The college football postseason game played at Tropicana Field for the next three years will be known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl "as part of a sponsorship deal between bitcoin payment processor BitPay and ESPN Events,” according to Michael Casey of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The arrangement “marks one of the most high-profile marketing initiatives yet for a bitcoin-related business” and is the currency's first sponsorship for a “televised U.S. sporting event.” Tickets, which will “start at $40 each,” and associated merchandise also will be “available for purchase with bitcoin.” The bowl game “previously bore the name of the Beef O'Brady's chain of sports-themed restaurants” (WSJ.com, 6/18). In Tampa, Susan Thurston noted BitPay "approached ESPN about the title sponsorship after a fan held up a sign asking his mom to send bitcoins during the broadcast” of ESPN's “College GameDay” at Auburn last year. Bowl officials expect BitPay's involvement will “generate interest in the game beyond sports” (TAMPABAY.com, 6/18).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Acura yesterday announced a multiyear sponsorship deal to become the official vehicle of the Tiger Woods Foundation. The automaker will have a significant presence at all three pro golf tournaments supported by the foundation: the Quicken Loans National, Deutsche Bank Championship and World Challenge. Acura will provide more than 180 vehicles for use at this month's Quicken Loans National (THE DAILY). Acura National PR Manager Jessica Fini in an e-mail wrote that despite the company's sponsorship of the foundation, Woods "will not be wearing Acura-logo apparel at foundation events or tournaments" as of now. She said that Woods "may make appearances related to Acura events at the foundation, but nothing contractual has been inked yet." AUTOMOTIVE NEWS' Mark Rechtin noted Woods "previously had a nine-year personal-services endorsement relationship with Buick, which ended" in '08 (AUTONEWS.com, 6/18).
IT'S ON THE BAG: The AP's Doug Ferguson reported nutrition company MusclePharm's endorsement deal with Woods to place its logo on his golf bag replaces that of Fuse Science. Woods had endorsed Fuse since '11, but the company "never gained much traction, and it was rare to see a sponsor have such prime space without any television commercials, or significant marketing campaign." A logo on the bag "rates behind the cap, shirt front and shirt sleeve or collar in exposure." MusclePharm becomes "only the fifth corporate brand to occupy that space on the bag behind Titleist, Buick, AT&T and Fuse." Woods' deal with MusclePharm is the "first significant endorsement deal" he has signed since Fuse. Excel Sports Management Partner Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, said that there was "potential for Woods to have his own line of products" with MusclePharm. He added that Woods will "be promoted in print and electronic ads, as well as through social media" (AP, 6/18).
Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman in his NBA Finals Sports Marketers’ Scouting Report called Spurs F Kawhi Leonard the "breakout star of the postseason" and wrote his NBA Finals MVP award "could be worth as much as $1M a year in new off-the-court income opportunities." However, Leonard is "one of the NBA's shyest and quietest players, which could limit his marketability." Dorfman notes Leonard may be "best-suited for non-speaking roles" until he "comes out of his shell and gets more friendly with the camera" (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt reported the "demands on Leonard's time will increase" following his MVP performance, as late-night talk shows "want him as a guest, and the Spurs are taking hundreds of calls for interview requests." The exposure also "could open endorsement possibilities for Leonard, who has regional sponsorship deals with McDonald's, AT&T, BBVA Compass bank and Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B." He also is "transitioning from Nike to Jordan Brand and received a congratulatory text message from Michael Jordan after Game 5" (USATODAY.com, 6/18).
BUT AT LEAST IT LOOKS COOL: Leonard makes his first appearance on the cover of SI this week, shown about to dunk over Heat C Chris Andersen, However, ESPN's Keith Olbermann noted Leonard "missed that shot ... at the end of the third quarter of Game Four" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 6/18). DEADSPIN's Tom Ley wrote, "Now poor Chris Andersen is going to have to spend the summer explaining to his friends that he didn't actually get posterized by Kawhi Leonard. Magazines are liars" (DEADSPIN.com, 6/18).
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and the Northern California Toyota Dealers have signed a multiyear agreement to continue as co-title sponsor of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway. Toyota has served as co-title sponsor of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 since '07 (Sonoma Raceway).
RIFF RAFA: Madrid-based communications company Telefonica announced that tennis player Rafael Nadal, who is currently No. 1 in the ATP rankings, "will be the company’s new global ambassador" until '20. Nadal will "represent both the institutional brand and the commercial brands -- Movistar, O2 and Vivo -- in Spain, the UK, Germany and the Latin American countries where the company operates" (TELECOMPAPER.com, 6/18).
SALES SLIDE: Omaha-based DiGiorgio's Sportswear Dir of Sales Chris Tribulato said that he has "heard from other vendors around TD Ameritrade Park that merchandise sales have been down overall" at the College World Series. Pro Image Store Manager Howie Brewer said, "Ole Miss has been our top seller for sure. It’s not even close. We had to reorder a lot of their team gear." In Omaha, Kody Pedersen noted UC Irvine players opted to "design and print their own shirts" at DiGiorgio's. The players' "no-frills design featured an image" of actor Leonardo DiCaprio from "The Wolf of Wall Street," with a microphone "planted on his temple with an accompanying slogan, 'No Prisoners'" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 6/18).
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