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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Skechers "doesn’t have much of a presence" in the $7B performance running shoe market, but it might get a boost after Meb Keflezighi won yesterday's Boston Marathon while wearing the company's shoes, according to Sara Germano of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Skechers is currently "on the upswing," as its sales "rose 18% last year" to $1.8B. The gain is a big one after the company paid $40M in '12 to "settle false-advertisement claims" with the FTC over its Shape-ups shoes. Keflezighi's contract renewal with Skechers in '12 was "distinctive in that it didn’t feature 'reduction clauses' that would allow Skechers to scale back his base pay if he didn’t perform well in races." Contract terms also stated that Keflezighi would "be able to wear logos of other corporate sponsors, another rarity in a market where most professional runners earn a substantial portion of their income from deals with shoe companies, which typically demand exclusivity." Keflezighi previously endorsed Nike, but did not renew his contract in '10 because he "thought Nike wasn't offering enough" (, 4/21). In Boston, Donna Goodison notes Skechers this year passed New Balance to "gain the fifth-largest share of the overall athletic footwear market." But Skechers remains ranked 17th among performance running companies with a 0.14% share of the market. Skechers Performance Division VP/Global Merchandising & Marketing Rick Higgins said Keflezighi's win yesterday is a "huge opportunity for us to elevate the brand's perception." Skechers last Friday in the Boston market "launched a new 'Go Meb, Go!' advertising campaign around the GOmeb Speed 3" shoe. The brand "likely will take another look at that campaign given Keflezighi’s performance yesterday." Higgins: "I’m sure that we will throw in a few mentions of his Boston win" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/22).

Chick-fil-A has reached a “new six-year agreement as title sponsor of Atlanta’s college football bowl game,” which is again being branded as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The QSR “substantially increased its financial commitment in order to strike the deal with ESPN,” which controls naming and media rights to the game. Chick-fil-A Exec VP & Chief Marketing Officer Steve Robinson “would not disclose financial terms.” But he said that the company is “very pleased" with the deal. Robinson said in addition to the initial six-year term, the deal gives Chick-fil-A “first option to renew” for another six years. Tucker notes in addition to the title sponsorship, the deal “calls for increased Chick-fil-A advertising across the ESPN family of networks and digital platforms, with an emphasis on college football programming.” Robinson: “Our agreement with the network is much broader than just the bowl entitlement. It involves our media buy and our media activation throughout the entire college football season and the bowl season.” He added, “It is literally a border-to-border, Kickoff weekend-to-championship game agreement, and it also includes some other assets in other parts of the year that we are very excited about.” Robinson said that it “took about a year to negotiate the new deal with ESPN,” and that once that was done, it “took about a week to negotiate a new deal with bowl officials about how the sponsorship would be activated locally” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/22).

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick has "signed on with the three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder motorcycle, and debuts this week in a tongue-in-cheek online campaign that features her as the go-to gal whom celebrities call when seeking instant-escape from paparazzi," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Patrick in the spot "shows up on the three-wheeled roadster dubbed 'The Paparazzi Escape Vehicle,'" and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler "calls and gets whisked away outside a restaurant." Can-Am filmed the creative late last month. By "linking up" with Patrick, Can-Am is "hoping for some serious celeb rub-off." However, Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer, whose company creates the Q Score, said that Patrick's popularity with the general public "has been fading -- to about half of what it was just three years ago." He added that her popularity has "held up very well with fans of sports and extreme sports -- who would be the most likely customers of this three-wheeled cycle" (USA TODAY, 4/22).

The Univ. of Arkansas, "one of three schools -- along with Florida State and Illinois -- selected to participate" in Nike’s Graphic Identity Group this year, last night "unveiled its latest look -- one complete with a new secondary Razorback logo," according to Robbie Neiswanger of the ARKANSAS NEWS. Athletes will wear uniforms that "feature the same primary colors and typography for lettering and numerals." The color and lettering will be "uniform on apparel as well to provide consistency for the program." The secondary logo is a "forward-facing Razorback." Arkansas said that the new logo will "not replace the well-known running Razorback, which has been the identity of the program for decades." Instead, Arkansas "intends to use it as an alternative." The forward-facing Razorback will "appear on the chest" of the '14 football uniforms above the lettering, while the running Razorback will "remain on Arkansas’ football helmets and will be on the left hip of the football uniform’s pants." Nike has outfitted Arkansas since '10 (, 4/21). In Little Rock, Matt Jones notes Arkansas "will wear red and white football helmets next season." The program "defined its primary colors as cardinal and white, with secondary colors including black, anthracite and dark steel grey." Arkansas Senior Associate AD/External Operations & Strategic Communications Mike Waddell during an appearance on the syndicated "Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly" said, "We've gone back to the classic, traditional look because that's what our fans want, that's what our students want. What works in Tallahassee doesn't work in Fayetteville. We're not going to have 75 different options for our uniforms. We have a very clean, traditional look that won't change" (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, 4/22).

Mizuno USA announced a one-year partnership as the official glove for Yankees P Masahiro Tanaka. Japan-based Mizuno has been the official glove of Tanaka since '11 (Mizuno)....The Rays signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Florida-based Vology to be the team's preferred IT solutions provider. The Vology logo will be "displayed along the rightfield wall of Tropicana Field." Terms of the deal were not disclosed (, 4/21)....Fantex yesterday announced that it anticipates closing the reservation period for its Vernon Davis IPO on Friday at 5:00pm ET. The company will stop allowing new reservations to be made on Thursday at 5:00pm. Trading is expected to begin on April 28 (Fantex).