Pacers F Paul George is "navigating the choppy waters of stardom," and in his fourth year in the NBA, he is "expected to be the leader of a championship contender and build his brand from scratch," according to Candace Buckner of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. George said of his budding stardom, "All of this is what I wanted from growing up watching guys have their own commercials, own sneakers, being on cereal boxes. All of that was something I definitely dreamed of. But now, it's like, it's a lot of work. It's probably more work than being on the court, some of the stuff you've got to do off the court." Buckner reports during the Pacers' final road trip to L.A. this season, George "had to do his first national spot as a Gatorade spokesman, but he had no clue it would last eight hours." He also "wavered on accepting invitations" to appear on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and participating in the Slam Dunk contest. Pacers assistant coach Nate McMillan: "I said to him, 'I've never been in your shoes. I've never been an All-Star or a superstar so there's much more on your table, but you can't eat all of that. You got to pick your spots.'" Buckner noted George in March had "intimate selfies he had taken ... splashed across the Internet." George: "This is just really my first year getting my feet wet and dealing with big-time businesses. Having Papa John's on deck, Gatorade on board, Nike on board, New Era on board. So it did make me nervous and it did make me just shut down from everybody on the outside world but again, it sped up the process to where now I really watch my surroundings and watch who I'm talking to" (INDINAPOLIS STAR, 5/1).
Marketing and Sponsorship
UA Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank sat down with CNBC's Jim Cramer at the company's new SoHo store in N.Y., which opened last Thursday. Cramer opened by saying UA stock has "been under a huge amount of pressure, a victim of Wall Street's sudden turn against expensive, fast-growing momentum names and their high-priced earnings ratios.” Cramer: “But Plank's a fighter, and you need to be thinking about buying stocks like this when they're going down, not when they're flying high." Plank said of the new SoHo store, "Eighteen years to get to this point, but you don’t walk into New York City in year one. We've earned it." Plank said he likes “the trajectory" UA is taking, as it cuts into market share from other companies and "we think we have the opportunity to be the No. 1 brand in the world." Cramer: "Is that 'Kevin Hubris' speaking? Because I know you're a competitor, but you're underestimating the competition. That's not like you." Plank: "I would never do that, but what we'd say is that this is not a zero-sum game, so one person doesn't have to lose for another one to win. There's lots of room for competitors. That doesn't make us like anybody any more, but we like the way that we're positioned” ("Mad Money," CNBC, 4/29).
WHERE’S THE GROWTH: Cramer said, "As of late in this quarter, you are getting beaten" UA's share price is down 20% from its 52-week high of $62.40. Plank said UA is a "long play" and the company "and its metrics are delivering on everything. We continue to see that type of hyper-accelerated growth for the year." Plank said, "We love the direction we're heading. … This is a $10 billion brand currently doing just under $3 billion in revenue. So how many companies can really think of that kind of outlook?" Plank: “These things take time. But the good news is our growth story, it's not coming from one particular place." Plank noted cracking Nike's domination of outfitting the top college football teams, "We've got some teams out there, (along with) our recent announcement with Notre Dame. We'll take assets as they come, but the assets we're looking for today are much more global assets. … Our goal is using our North American growth drivers and cash creation to help us fuel our global ambition as a company" ("Mad Money," CNBC, 4/29).
In Houston, Joy Sewing noted Basketball HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon "has teamed up with Etonic to re-issue" his '84 "Akeem the Dream" signature sneakers. The limited-edition collection ($75-120 each pair) will "be available in June." Olajuwon also will "collaborate with Etonic to develop a Brand Dream footwear, apparel, and accessory" line (CHRON.com, 4/30).
AUTO TUNED: IndyCar team Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Tuesday announced that Klipsch Audio will be its primary sponsor on the No. 67 entry for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race on Saturday, May 10. Driver Josef Newgarden will drive the car, and Klipsch will use his image on a full-size ad at Indianapolis Int'l Airport as part of the deal (SFHR).
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