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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

adidas, following FIFA's decision today to suspend Uruguay F Luis Suárez for nine int'l matches and four months of int'l football activities for biting Italy D Giorgio Chiellini, "says it has pulled all advertising" featuring him during the World Cup, but is "keeping him under contract," according to's Darren Rovell. adidas said, "We will again be reminding him of the high standards we expect from our players" (, 6/26). Suarez also has a deal with 888 Poker, and CNBC's Sharon Epperson asked, "What's going to happen to the endorsements that he does have?" CNBC contributor Nathan Bachrach said, "It's hard to imagine that this guy keeps any endorsements at this point." Noting Suarez has been involved in two other biting incidents in his career, Bacharch said, "As they say, the guy's got a history." CNBC's Kelly Evans: "I don't think it's one that any company really wants to be associated with" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 6/25). Meanwhile, the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sara Germano writes adidas' promotional materials for its Battle Pack collection of soccer cleats "can only be called unfortunate" in light of this week's biting incident. adidas "unveiled the materials earlier this spring" ahead of the World Cup. One image "includes Suárez baring his teeth" (, 6/25).

GOING ALL IN: MASHABLE's Sam Laird wrote adidas at its FIFA World Cup HQs in Rio de Janeiro "is pulling out all the stops to extend its brand reach, imprint the three stripes in consumers' minds and generally make Brazil 2014 a [smashing] success." Its efforts "start at Adidas Posto, a temporary command center and workspace the company has set up" at its HQs. During the World Cup, "social, digital, PR, marketing and event managers" from several countries will "all run operations from the temporary mothership." The facility's epicenter "is a centrally located room full of desks, TVs and more gadgets than you can count." There, digital-content teams "from around the world tune in to every game -- Photoshop and Twitter at the ready -- to fire appropriate reactions out to fans." It is "all in the name of Adidas." adidas North America Soccer Senior Brand Communications & Digital Marketing Manager Pashington Obeng: "The big questions are what content we have to celebrate our key players, whether it's for a goal or a hat-trick or any other cool events that we know our fans are looking for." Laird noted this means "leveraging Adidas' status as a chief World Cup sponsor to provide content from vantage points to which other brands aren't allowed access." They "include views from the pitch, the tunnel and team locker rooms." Another key element "is finding creative ways to promote the players and teams that Adidas sponsors." adidas endorsers "have been performing well in this World Cup." As of last night, the company's "signature F50 cleat was used to score more goals (33) than any other boot worn by players" (, 6/25).

While the FIFA World Cup is "one of the largest sports fashion catwalks in the world," there is a temptation regarding jerseys to "exaggerate or be overly 'creative' with what is available, and as fashion often demonstrates, therein lies a slippery slope to sartorial disaster," according to a fashion & style piece by Vanessa Friedman of the N.Y. TIMES. For example, while Croatia's "giant red-and-white checkerboard home shirt (and away trim) may be eye-catching," it only is "in the 'Hey, is that a Formula One flag?' kind of way." On the opposite extreme "is Cameroon, which has fallen victim to heritage ikat overload, and France, where the away jerseys, in faded stripe and Henley collar, and the navy-with-white-polo-collar home jerseys both telegraph a days-of-yesteryear nostalgia that seems at odds with a sport synonymous with future promise." The U.S. "went for a polo neck with three-button placket for its home jerseys, as did Greece -- though the net effect, especially when buttoned, was to make the player look like a small boy dressed by his parents." Still, the "biggest statements, speaking literally, tend to be made in color and print, with varying degrees of success." The "single-shade shirt-’n’-shorts combo, for example, while it does make a team easy to identify, is also disturbingly reminiscent of a child’s romper suit -- or, in the case of Ivory Coast’s yellow-orange, a bag of tangerines run amok." Though the "dress-like-the-flag approach of the United States away jersey, with its giant red, white and blue stripes" is "not necessarily better." Ghana's white jersey "with bright ikat neckline decoration; Japan’s subtle tone-on-tone sunray inlay; Argentina’s graphic home vertical and away horizontal stripes; and Russia’s wash of blue on the shoulders" of its white home jersey "single out their teams without distracting attention from the talent" (, 6/24).

The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Luciana Magalhaes wrote Brazil F Neymar and Nike "aren’t missing their golden chance to cash in on the soccer player´s World Cup notoriety." Neymar on Saturday "will debut a new pair of cleats for Brazil’s second-round match against Chile." The gold-colored boots, a special version of the Hypervenom Phantom, "have a stinging price to match: $545 in Brazil." Even admirers "wonder if his pricey new cleats may be overreaching in a country where the monthly minimum wage is ... about $328" (, 6/25). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Brooks Peck noted FIFA has reportedly launched "an investigation into Neymar's underpants," as the governing body is focused on the "protection of its high-paying sponsors' exclusivity." The "underwear alarm went off at FIFA headquarters when Neymar's were partially exposed after he swapped shirts following Brazil's 4-1 win over Cameroon" (, 6/25).

SPONSOR RECALL: YouGov Omnibus yesterday released poll data showing that, when Americans were asked which brands they thought were official sponsors of the World Cup, they correctly recognized Coca-Cola 21% of the time, and McDonalds 19% of the time. adidas was identified by 16% -- the same number who incorrectly identified Nike. Hispanics had higher sponsorship recognition with 36% of Hispanics correctly identifying Coca-Cola, and McDonalds (27%). Total sample size was 1,079 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between June 23-24. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+) (YouGov).

CONSOLATION PRIZE: In London, Antony Barrett reports members of the England national team were given Xbox One consoles by Microsoft despite being eliminated from the tournament. A Football Association spokesperson said, "It was a sponsorship deal for the tournament. The players were given them whilst they were away by the manufacturer, free of charge" (LONDON TIMES, 6/26).

Evian has "created a music video by the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks" featuring tennis player Maria Sharapova as the "centrepiece of a new Wimbledon-themed viral marketing campaign" in the U.K., according to Ian Griggs of CAMPAIGN LIVE. Including the original video, the campaign also comes with "outdoor screens, print ads and social media, as part of the Danone-brand’s ongoing 'live young' activity." The three-minute music video of the song "Tell her" shows the Rizzle Kicks duo "hot on the trail of their teenage crush, Sharapova, using Wimbledon village as a backdrop." Evian is the "official bottled water of the Wimbledon tournament and Sharapova is the brand’s global ambassador." The campaign will be "supported by a dedicated microsite within" The campaign also will use social media "as well as display and point-of-sale units in retail outlets such as Tesco, Boots and WHSmith" (, 6/24).

HITTING THE SWEET SPOT: Sharapova's agent, Max Eisenbud, said that her Sugarpova candy brand "sold 1.4 million units" in '13. In London, Ben Machell noted that figure is "set to double by the end of this year." Machell: "Having met her, I'm not that surprised. She could probably make millions from Maria Sharapova car de-icer if she put her mind to it." She is the "best-paid sportswoman on the planet." Sharapova is "loaded, basically, and after five minutes in her presence you can see why." With fans she is "sweet and giving, but when she talks about business and branding decisions, it's with a crisp self-confidence" (LONDON TIMES, 6/25). 

Beyond Meat, a California-based health-food company, is using sports sponsorships to help “convince red-blooded Americans to eat more plant-derived protein,” according to Sarah Nassauer of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The company recently "paid the Mets for access" to players to act as "taste-testers for a new plant-based protein burger" before a game against the Brewers at Citi Field. Mets P Jon Niese after tasting the burger asked, "So this has zero beef?" Mets C Anthony Recker wanted to know if it was "all naturally derived.” The company also “shelled out for ads in Citi Field and to pass out sliders to fans outside the stadium before that night's game.” Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said that the company hopes “using pro athletes to market its new burger appeals to both younger consumers and health-conscious boomers.” Nassauer reports through “personal connections,” the company has approached the Warriors, Seahawks, Clippers, NFL Giants, Yankees, and Patriots, hoping to “arrange taste tests similar to the Mets event or get players to try samples.” The taste test may even "produce an athlete sponsor.” Brown said that Mets 3B David Wright “plans to sign on as a spokesman in exchange for a small amount of Beyond Meat stock.” Brown added that a personal connection between a Beyond Meat employee and Wright's wife also “helped spur the deal” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/26).