Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

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” (, 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” (, 6/18).

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 (, 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" (, 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" (, 6/18).

While TV will "reap most of the benefit" of advertising dollars around the '14 FIFA World Cup, publishers "both online and off are fighting for their share of the windfall, not only covering the matches but also introducing websites, digital magazines and branded-content campaigns" dedicated to the event, according to Michael Sebastian of AD AGE. SI "bumped up its soccer blog Planet Futbol to become a new section on the magazine's website." SI reps said that brands "including Degree, Edge Shave Gel and Canon have signed on as sponsors." Elsewhere, Men's Health has "simultaneously published its first single-topic digital edition, a guide to the World Cup." The issue is "free on the iTunes store," with Rogaine as the "sole sponsor." The digital edition "has been downloaded 30,000 times." But the stakes "might be highest for publishers that already focus on soccer." ComScore data showed that "attracted 1.4 million unique U.S. visitors from desktop and mobile devices in May, up 42% from May 2013" and has a "significantly larger audience globally." has "inked ad deals with Puma, Sony, Samsung, Hyundai and Gatorade around the World Cup." Sporting News Media Division CRO Rich Routman, whose company owns, said that the site "filmed, produced and distributed soccer videos to support Gatorade's 'Unreal Around the World' campaign." Meanwhile, Brazil F Neymar "arrived on a number of magazine covers in the U.S., including WSJ, a monthly magazine inside Wall Street Journal weekend editions." He also "appeared on The New York Times Magazine, which put out three separate soccer-themed covers the week of June 6." The other two editions featured Portugal MF Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina F Lionel Messi. Bloomberg Businessweek "put out two of its own World Cup covers in May," featuring either Messi or Ronaldo (, 6/19).

EA Sports' new ad starring Galaxy F Landon Donovan for the '14 FIFA World Cup Brazil videogame "is generating a lot of social media buzz," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The spot, produced by Portland-based Cinco Design, "appeared on Monday" before the U.S.-Ghana match in which Donovan did not appear after being left off the World Cup squad. In the video, Donovan "pokes fun at his status as a player watching the USA team from his home." Cinco Design "spent time with Donovan last week" in L.A. and "produced the YouTube video over the weekend at a rapid pace." EA had "called the agency seeking an ad featuring Donovan ... who is still prominently featured" in the game. The spot "went from concept to finished product in three days" (, 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" (, 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).

Knowledge is Power: Become a Better Sports Marketer

SportsBusiness Journal/Daily’s Resource Guide LIVE, an invaluable industry database and business development resource, is a must-have for every sports marketer. With exclusive corporate sponsorship data, valuable insights on naming rights and athlete endorsements, Resource Guide LIVE is trusted by hundreds of teams, agencies, brands and other sports properties around the world.

Take a look for yourself by visiting or scheduling an online demo today.