Advertisers and networks "have differing opinions over the value of NFL games" for the upcoming season, according to sources cited by Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. Sources insist that the networks' "interest is robust." However, buyers "caution a reduction in overall volume committed by marketers for next season" and the addition of eight Thursday-night games on CBS "might create headwind in the sales process." One media buyer said, "Supply is certainly outpacing demand." Steinberg noted advertising talks "likely won’t ramp up until after the networks have completed the bulk of sales for their primetime entertainment schedules." A source said that networks in recent years "typically sought a 7% increase in CPMs for football" and estimated that advertisers this year "might press for a rate that is below what TV networks are getting for their primetime entertainment offerings -- something TV executives will likely refuse, given football’s popularity among viewers." Speculation in the market that GM and Toyota are "trimming their NFL ad budgets" is "adding some heft to the pressure from buyers." Nissan North America Product Communications Manager Josh Clifton said the company is "pretty much on par for our spend" for NFL in '14 with what was spent last year (VARIETY.com, 6/11).
Marketing and Sponsorship
American interest in soccer "typically spikes around the quadrennial World Cup, but it hasn't been strong enough for sporting-goods retailers to stock their shelves with jerseys of top players," according to Germano & Beaton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nike said that it "doesn't sell ready-printed player-specific jerseys to wholesale customers like sporting-goods stores," and added that it "makes a small quantity of preprinted jerseys to display in its own stores." Galaxy F Landon Donovan, who did not make the final U.S. roster, is one, while "another is that of team captain Clint Dempsey." Boston-based City Sports CEO Edward Albertian said that World Cup gear "is a 'dramatic commitment to inventory,' made all the riskier ... when there are a lot of moving parts, including Mr. Donovan's last-minute cut, the weakness of some traditionally strong teams like Mexico, and the uncertainty about who will advance." Albertian: "To have a shirt that says Brazil or Italia is better than having any name on it. That's a slippery slope." Other big chains "follow a similar strategy." Visits to Modell's and Sports Authority "yielded jerseys for countries such as Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the U.S.," but all the jerseys "were generic, without player names or numbers on the back." Modell's Sporting Goods Manager of Sports Marketing & PR Jason Karlowski: "We find that many of the fans are purchasing based upon their heritage, and that wearing their nation's colors proudly is more important than player preference." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that World Cup merch "is a small category in the U.S." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/12).
WHAT'S SELLING? In New Jersey, Andrew Wyrich reports both Sports Authority and Dick's Sporting Goods in Paramus, N.J., had "large sections devoted to World Cup replica jerseys, T-shirts, soccer balls and scarves." Sports Authority "was even offering a World Cup trivia board game as part of their display." Sports Authority Divisional Merchandise Manager Rob Will said that World Cup sales "have been strong ahead of the tournament, and he expects that to continue during the weeks after Father’s Day." Dick's Sporting Goods Community Marketing Manager Brian Hagerman said that jerseys "have been popular among customers at Dick’s in the weeks heading up to the international tournament -- with United States, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Mexico jerseys the top sellers." The jerseys "can range from $50 to more than $90." Will said that U.S. and Mexico jerseys "have been the strongest sellers at Sports Authority" (Bergen RECORD, 6/12). In Seattle, Nick Eaton noted Dempsey's jersey and "other merchandise are the best-selling among all soccer players" on Fanatics.com. Dempsey’s Team USA merchandise sales "have jumped" more than 300% in the past week. Trailing Dempsey in sales were Brazil F Neymar, U.S. MF Michael Bradley, Portugal MF Cristiano Ronaldo, and Argentina F Lionel Messi. Fanatics said that its top-selling national teams "were USA, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and England" (SEATTLEPI.com, 6/10).
Portugal MF Cristiano Ronaldo by most accounts already is the top global soccer player in terms of "sheer marketability," but his closest rivals "will be left in the shade" if Ronaldo makes the '14 FIFA World Cup his own, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Ronaldo's rise to the "unofficial face of Brazil 2014 has not happened by chance." It has been the "product of a carefully calculated strategy from the team behind him," led by long-time agent Jorge Mendes. Ronaldo has been pushed not only through "traditional forms of marketing space -- the billboards and television adverts -- but, crucially, on social media." He already is the "sports star with the most Facebook likes, with 83.3 million, while his Twitter account has attracted 26.6 million followers." While Ronaldo "reveals next to nothing" about himself on Twitter, the "endless endorsements of his various commercial partners and pictures of himself at sponsors’ events underline why he is considered such a precious commodity: this is a man who knows how to play the marketing game." Ronaldo counts Nike, Samsung and Emirates among his many endorsements. However, he is "savvy enough to know that nothing sells him better than his body." That was evident in both his recent Vogue cover with supermodel girlfriend Irina Shayk and his "carefully choreographed goal celebration after his penalty in the Champions League final." He ripped off his shirt and stood -- "muscles flexed -- just long enough for the cameras to get their fill" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/11).
THE WORLD IS HIS PITCH: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai reported Ronaldo is listed as the "world's most marketable soccer player, ahead of Argentina's Lionel Messi," on the latest Celebrity Davie-Brown Index. Spain D Gerard Pique is listed third. The DBI results show that Ronaldo is "the best-known soccer player in the world today," with 83.9% of people knowing of him. In "such markets as Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey and Argentina," this figure is above 95%. Ronaldo also ranks as "the most 'trend-setting' World Cup star," with 82.5% of people saying that he "reflects today’s trends in society." Ronaldo has had endorsement deals with the likes of Armani, Nike and Coca-Cola (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 6/11). Meanwhile, Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen notes "no sports figure can touch" Ronaldo when it comes to social media. The combined total of 110 million followers on Facebook and Twitter dwarfs Messi and Brazil F Neymar, who have the "next biggest social followings among athletes" (FORBES.com, 6/11).
At the U.S. Open’s "exclusive Tufts Village corporate hospitality area, business as usual for companies, their clients and guests includes gourmet golf and championship food," according to a front-page piece by Jeff Mills of the Greensboro NEWS & RECORD. The Tufts Village is "luxurious" and "expensive," with costs averaging $500-750 per person per day. The "air-conditioned, carpeted tents feature three good meals, open bars, high-definition TVs, Internet access, even a 'Gelateria' gelato bar." But "above all, it’s an investment." MSG Promotions President Mimi Griffin said, "It’s relationship building. And that’s the way business works. It’s crazy for anybody to think this is a boondoggle or an extravagance. Because it’s not." She added, "For the corporate client, it gives them a chance to get a lot of quality face time with their clients. If they were sitting at a Major League Baseball game, or an NBA or NFL game, there’s screaming at the action on the field and it’s, what, three hours?" Mills notes in all, U.S. Open corporate hospitality this year "includes the gigantic, 130-table Champions Pavilion, 44 private tents, 230 corporate clients and roughly 5,500 guests per day." Most corporate clients "bought for the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 6/12).
Maria Sharapova has signed with N.Y.-based Avon Products Inc. as the "face of Avon Luck, a pair of fragrances for women and men," according to Molly Prior of WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY. The '14 French Open winner on Monday took part in ad shoot for the fragrances "in the Northern England countryside." Sharapova said that she "collaborated with Avon on both the story and concept for Luck, which sports the tag line, 'Celebrate Life’s Good Fortune.'" Prior reported the women's version of the scent will retail for $30, with the women’s version going for $28. It will launch in Europe in September, "followed by North America in October and Asia-Pacific in November." Print and TV ads "will run in select markets, such as South Africa, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania." This is not Sharapova's first association with a perfume, as she "nearly a decade ago" introduced a signature scent with Parlux Fragrance, "which has since been discontinued" (WOMEN’S WEAR DAILY, 6/11).
INSTANT REACTION: In S.F., Ann Killion wrote Sarah Harbaugh "goes a long way toward making her nutty husband look a little more human" (SFGATE.com, 6/11). USATODAY.com's Chris Strauss wrote the couple "both prove to be extremely good sports" (USATODAY.com, 6/11). ESPN.com's Bill Williamson wrote Sarah Harbaugh "deserves a Clio Award for her role and although Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have any lines, he too scores a touchdown in the bit" (ESPN.com, 6/11). NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote Dockers "wisely assigned Jim a non-speaking role in the commercial," which makes a "lot of sense given what Harbaugh has put on tape" (NFL.com, 6/11). Meanwhile, in DC, Matt Bonesteel writes, "It is the 'This is Your Brain on Drugs' of its time" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/12).