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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

Gillette, one of MLB's oldest corporate patrons, will title-sponsor the July 14 Home Run Derby held the evening before the MLB All-Star Game and televised on ESPN. While its commercial relationship with MLB dates to '39 and it has used pro baseball players as endorsers since 1910, Gillette has not been an active sponsor in recent years. However, this year it will use the Home Run Derby to push the Fusion ProGlide Flexball, launched in late April as Gillette's highest-price razor ever. "The whole marketing premise around the Flexball technology in the new razor is 'maximum contact,' and obviously that fits well with Home Run Derby and with our baseball heritage," said Gillette Dir of Global Sports Marketing Greg Via, who held a similar position with Gatorade when that brand sponsored the event years ago. "It's just a good way for us to have meaningful conversations with the MLB fans who are our customers." Via said activation plans are to be determined, but will include ads during the ESPN broadcast, ticket giveaways, social and digital plays, broadcast integration, an on-field presence and marketing in and around the All-Star Game host city of Minneapolis. The deal is for one year, but with next year's All-Star Game slated for Cincinnati, Via said his company "is looking at it carefully." Principal considerations for a return will be awareness of sponsorship, the new razor and the audience size for the Home Run Derby, which is generally among the highest-rated cable sports offerings during the summer. Various involved parties met yesterday at Gillette's HQ in Boston to plan activation. Lead agencies are Grey Advertising, Carat Media and Ketchum PR.

PARTNERS IN TIME: After six years of sponsorship by State Farm, which included year-round sponsorship rights in the insurance category, this is the second consecutive year in which MLB pulled in a Home Run Derby sponsor from its existing base. Chevrolet titled last year's event.MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said, "For all kinds of reasons, we’re ecstatic that it’s Gillette. They are our oldest partner and we’re happy that one of their most important product launches is using Home Run Derby as a platform." Asked about the overall level of sponsor activation this year, Brosnan said he has lofty expectations. Referring to the site of last year's All-Star Game, he said, “We are going to have a level of activation akin to New York." He cited forthcoming efforts from Target, A-B and T-Mobile. Brosnan: "We also consider our community activations to be just as important and this All-Star Week will be the most intensive ever from a community project perspective."

Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Nike have "launched brand experiences for World Cup fans unperturbed by the protests," according to Julie Ruvolo of AD AGE. Just behind Maracana stadium, Coca-Cola has "unveiled a four-story house where visitors check out the view from the roof, peek in on the studio, strap into a virtual experience scoring the winning goal on the field, and of course, browse the gift shop and pick up a free Coke on their way out." Visitors are "let in 22 at a time and guided through the house from roof to gift shop in timed increments." The main attraction is "the locker room, where you buckle your seat belt, put on Coke goggles, and enter a virtual reality of cartoon soccer players heading onto the pitch to the roar of thousands of cheering fans." All this is "followed up by the requisite product placement," including Powerade during a break and bottles of Coke afterward. Meanwhile, Budweiser has "done a full takeover of the beachfront Hotel Pestana, installing massive flatscreens over the hotel entrance and rooftop pool, blanketing everything black and red, and building out lounges on three floors." The only people "allowed to join the party are guests of Budweiser, including all hotel guests over the 32 days of World Cup." The brand has "so far hosted parties featuring Fat Boy Slim, Nicky Romero and June's Playboy Playmate of the Month." Nike, which is not an official FIFA or World Cup sponsor, has "taken over a massive warehouse in Rio's port area for Casa Fenomenal, a hypercolor mish-mash of futsal tournaments, foosball, Xbox One FIFA14 games, dribbling competitions with a real-time scoreboard, passinho (dance craze) battles and live shows every Saturday night of World Cup" (, 6/17).

: Budweiser’s #ManoftheMatch hashtag on Twitter had its biggest day on Monday, with 2.3 times as many tweets as the previous four days of the World Cup, according to an analysis of social media by Atlanta-based consulting and marketing firm CSE. The largest volume of tweets with the Budweiser hashtag occurred during the Germany-Portugal match. Meanwhile, Degree, which is a sponsor of the U.S. men’s national team, used a live guest tweeter during the U.S.-Ghana match. Former USMNT player and current Fox Sports analyst Brian McBride was live tweeting throughout the match, and the company’s feed ended up with 75 tweets for the day. Prior to that, @DegreeMen had averaged around four tweets per day from June 1-15. Nike Soccer also was tweeting during U.S.-Ghana, and during the middle of the match tweeted out “#RiskEverything for redemption. #usmnt,” along with an image of U.S. F Clint Dempsey. The tweet generated over 15,000 engagements, more than double any other tweet from the feed since the start of the World Cup (CSE).

MARKETPLACE CONFUSION: MARKETING magazine's Ben Bold cites GlobalWebIndex research as showing that 38% of U.K., U.S. and Brazilian consumers "mistakenly think MasterCard is a World Cup sponsor, with rival credit card brands Visa scoring just 4% higher recognition at 42%." Non-sponsor Pepsi, which has "been running football-themed advertising, scored the highest awareness as a World Cup 'sponsor' among US consumers." Nike, which last week launched "a humorous five-minute animated epic, was selected as a sponsor by nearly a third of UK and US consumers." Meanwhile, "a fifth of UK consumers also thought that Samsung is a FIFA sponsor" (, 6/18).

Under Armour "plans to open its first Chicago retail store on the Magnificent Mile next March, and it will be the athletic-wear retailer’s largest 'brand house' to date," according to Alexia Elajade-Ruiz of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. UA has "leased 30,000 square feet at 600 N. Michigan Ave." for the new retail location. The company in a release said its retail concept has been “successfully executed” in other locations, including N.Y., Baltimore and McLean, Va. The store will "offer men’s, women’s and youth apparel, footwear and equipment, including outdoor and hunt gear and specialized shops dedicated to running and training." It will also sell "Chicago-specific products" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/18). UA in January signed a 10-year deal to outfit Notre Dame athletics (THE DAILY).

MARKET REPORT: CNBC's Brian Sullivan noted UA shares are up 25% in the past month, "crushing the competition, including Nike." MKM Partners Exec Dir & Chief Market Technician Jonathan Krinsky said there are no signs UA will slow down "in the long run." Krinsky: "We're in the middle of the World Cup, as you know. We could say that Under Armour's been the Lionel Messi of retail stocks." Krinsky said in terms of acquiring shares of UA, he is in the "near term a little cautious, but I think there's more room to go in the long term." S&P Capital IQ Equity Chief Investment Officer Erin Gibbs said UA "has some really high expectations." Gibbs: "Currently it's expecting about 25 percent EPS growth year-over-year. Now they achieved that last year and they're looking for the same type of growth rate this year, but the problem is it's trading at about 62 times earnings versus its competitor, Nike, ... which tends to trade more around 25 percent. So there's a lot of this growth that's really built in" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 6/16).

EA Sports "will showcase" female UFC fighters Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate "in digital ads" for its new UFC video game that hit stores yesterday, according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. EA Senior Marketing Product Manager Jeff Sharma said that this "will be the first time EA Sports has featured female fighters" in an MMA game. The female fighters' video likenesses "will appear in U.S. ads" along with UFC Light Heavyweight champion and cover athlete Jon 'Bones' Jones, former UFC fighter Chuck Liddell and the late Bruce Lee. Sharma said the strategy of adding female fighters to both the game and the campaign is a "differentiator between us and the other companies that had the license before." Ad agency Heat, S.F., is "creating the digital ads" starring Rousey, Tate and other fighters. Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, is "handling media planning and buying." However, the female fighters "will not be seen in the TV ad promoting the game." The spot features Lee, Liddell and other male fighters "going at" each other. Only male fighters "will appear in ads for overseas markets like Europe, where women's MMA hasn't taken off yet" (, 6/18).

MusclePharm today announced that it has signed Tiger Woods to an endorsement deal that includes sponsorship of Woods' golf bag. The partnership formally begins July 1. Woods will be featured in MusclePharm ads and will further support the brand with appearances and social media promotion. The golfer joins a roster of MusclePharm endorsers that includes Jets WR Eric Decker, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and Arnold Schwarzenegger (MusclePharm). The deal with the nutrition company is for four years "with a two-year option" (, 6/18). See the rest of the MusclePharm endorsement portfolio at Resource Guide LIVE.

: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie notes Martin Kaymer did not have a sponsor logo on his golf bag during his U.S. Open victory last weekend, but that will be "addressed in time." Sportyard Founder Johan Elliott, Kaymer's manager, said, "There's no rush, as with everything that Martin does." Elliott added that a "short list for the bag does exist." Kaymer currently has deals with Rolex, TaylorMade, Hugo Boss, Mercedes-Benz and Etihad Airways, "all strong worldwide businesses" (GOLFWEEK, 6/20 issue).

GOLF DIGEST STIX' Mike Stachura notes four top amateurs golfers -- Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Rodgers, Cameron Wilson and Bobby Wyatt -- have all "turned pro this week" and each begins his new career "with corporate support." Wilson will be sponsored by Callaway, and Rodgers will be a "Nike staffer." Wyatt signed with Titleist, and "makes his pro debut with Wilson and Rodgers at the Travelers Championship." Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick, who "wore Under Armour clothes while earning low am honors at the U.S. Open, is expected to unveil his sponsors soon" (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 6/18 issue).

BE OUR GUEST: The AP's Pat Eaton-Robb noted Travelers Championship organizers "left two gift packages" at a hotel for Bubba Watson's family. The gifts are part of a "carefully designed recruiting package targeting the families and caddies of PGA Tour players." Tournament Dir Nathan Grube said that the idea is "to make the tournament an attractive destination for them, and therefore more attractive to the players, who might otherwise want to take a break the week after the U.S. Open." Once they are here, the "caddies receive wind jackets, free dry cleaning all week, and a party in their honor." The players' wives "get a beach bag filled with wine and chocolate and a spa day in West Hartford" (AP, 6/18).

THREE'S COMPANY: In St. Paul, Joe Bissen noted Minnesota-based 3M yesterday announced it has "extended its contract as title sponsor" of the Champions Tour 3M Championship "for four more years" through '17. This year's roster will "include a 'Big Three' of legendary golf figures: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus." The trio will "take part in the tournament's Greats of Golf competition Aug. 2, the Saturday of tournament week" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/17).

Panasonic yesterday announced that it has signed a new multiyear agreement with Hendrick Motorsports that includes a primary sponsorship of the No. 24 car, driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon. Panasonic will be featured as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in two Sprint Cup races annually and as an associate-level partner in all other events. The agreement covers the '14, '15 and '16 NASCAR seasons. Gordon’s No. 24 Panasonic Chevrolet SS will debut this weekend at California’s Sonoma Raceway and will again appear Aug. 31 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Panasonic).

HE'LL NEVER TIRE: In Denver, Mike Klis reports Broncos DT Terrance Knighton recently "spent three days" in L.A. filming a national Bridgestone tires commercial in which he stars "alongside a French bulldog." Knighton "is enjoying the recognition and will take more endorsements if they come, but he also understands he's lucky to be in this position" (DENVER POST, 6/18).

An image of Harper recently tweeted by Under
Armour features "Transformers" imagery
HARPING ON SOMETHING: In DC, Scott Allen noted Under Armour recently tweeted an image of company endorser and Nationals CF Bryce Harper "as a Transformer." The ad "labels Harper as one of the athletes of the NEXT generation." UA "has a line of 'Alter Ego' gear, which features graphics of various Transformers and superheroes such as Batman, Superman and The Flash" (, 6/17).

LOCKERDOME'S DOMINION: Social media site LockerDome said that its monthly user count "has doubled since a major redesign in December." In St. Louis, Dave Nicklaus notes the site "now counts 40 million unique monthly visitors, up from 20 million before the redesign." Several major publishers -- including the London Telegraph and U.S.-based political site The Daily Caller -- "have begun sharing content on LockerDome since the redesign" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/18).

EXTRA INSURANCE: Symetra Life Insurance yesterday announced that it has expanded its national consumer advertising platform this month with a new TV and digital media campaign on ESPN. The company’s "I Just Want to Fly" spot will debut on June 23 during ESPN’s Wimbledon coverage. Symetra’s ESPN campaign will feature on-air advertising in high-profile televised sports events and programs, including Wimbledon and the tennis U.S. Open, MLB, the British Open, and "SportsCenter." Advertising will appear prominently on as well as on WatchESPN during its live coverage of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open tournament (Symetra).