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Volume 24 No. 116

Marketing and Sponsorship

Yonex has agreed to re-sign tennis player Stan Wawrinka to a deal that is the "most lucrative contract in the Japanese company’s history," according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. A source said that the agreement "covers sneakers, apparel and racket," stretches through '18 and will pay Wawrinka nearly $20M. The "value of a tennis deal typically depends on the player’s performance, at least in part." But the source said that the money in this deal "is guaranteed." Wawrinka has "played with and worn Yonex the last four years" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/25 issue).

ROGER THAT: In N.Y., Stuart Miller examines whether racket manufacturers are selling products used by professional tennis players or those endorsed by them. Wilson recently unveiled its signature Roger Federer Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph racket, but the brand said that it is "offering more than a racket with Federer's signature on it." Wilson Global Product Dir John Lyons: "We want to be clear this is his actual racket, not a ‘signature racket’ or ‘racket of choice.’” Lyons was "referring to the many rackets sponsored by top players with vague phrases like the one put forth by the tennis company Head: 'Andy Murray’s racket of choice.'” On Head’s website, the "fine print for each player’s racket, like Murray’s or Novak Djokovic’s, says, 'Head Pro players may play with different rackets from the model shown.'” Federer said that the racket "coming to stores in October was 'the one I’m playing with.'” But amateur tennis players have "often been skeptical of such claims." Babolat last year "was sued in California by a customer, Payam Ahdoot, who asserted that the phrase 'racket of choice' meant the star used the racket in question." Babolat argued that this was “'irrationally literal' but decided to settle rather than slog through the courts." The company will "now use disclaimers stating that pro players may use a different racket from the one depicted" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25). 

In N.Y., Ravi Ubha writes Tomas Berdych is "the only tennis player sponsored by the Swedish clothing retailer H&M," and eyes are "sure to dwell" on his chatter-generating wardrobe at this week's U.S. Open. But when asked about what he will be wearing, Berdych "was not giving everything away." He said, "The main colors are going to be gray, white and orange." H&M and Uniqlo "appear to be making inroads" in the tennis sector, which is "traditionally dominated" by Nike and adidas. H&M as part of its push into sports "provided clothing to the Swedish Olympic team" at the Sochi Games, and will also "produce a line for Sweden’s team at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro" in '16 (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).

PONY UP: In N.Y., Ruth La Ferla noted designer Ralph Lauren is entering the "rapidly advancing world of wearable technology" by having U.S. Open ball boys wear new shirts that "monitor your heart rate, breathing and stress levels, collecting data that is displayed on a dashboard, phone app or computer screen." The form-fitting black athletic shirts will have the Ralph Lauren polo pony "emblazoned on the front." The brand claims that the shirt is the "first item of tech apparel to be introduced by a mainstream fashion label" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/24).

MURRAY'S MILLIONS: In Scotland, Colan Lamont reports Andy Murray "is about to sign the biggest kit deal in Scottish sports history." Industry experts believe that Murray’s new contract "will dwarf his five-year agreement with Adidas which runs out in November." Murray is "said to be keeping his options open with industry giants, including Nike, believed to be among those battling for his signature on a deal that could be worth" up to $83M (all figures U.S.). The adidas deal is worth $7.5M a year and was signed in '09, before Murray's Grand Slam victories in '12 and '13 at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, respectively (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 8/25).

WHAT THEY'RE WEARING: In N.Y., Marc Berman writes the comparisons between Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova "stem more from marketability than strokes." While Sharapova is a "pure power" player, Bouchard wears a tank top that reads "One Hot Drop Shot" (N.Y. POST, 8/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay notes Roger Federer has been "wearing a Nike T-shirt that says BETTERER, which seems to wink at his resurgence" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/25).

Louisiana-based hot-sauce brand Slap Ya Mama "will no longer get to splash its logo on television during preseason games" when the Saints reach the red zone, according to Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Slap Ya Mama parent company Walker & Sons said that the move was made "in light of domestic violence issues" facing the NFL. The red-zone ads "had been controversial for other reasons, with some viewers complaining that they were intrusive." Walker & Sons said that the NFL "sent a subsequent memo to league teams asking them to stop the red-zone 'virtual signage' ads during preseason broadcasts." The hot-sauce company "sent a press release criticizing the move before the Saints' third preseason game on Saturday." The company in the release said, "People who know our brand 'get it' but all of a sudden, after three years, the NFL doesn't. Maybe they just don't understand our culture. What a shame!" (, 8/23). All NFL teams were notified last week that no virtual signage will be permitted to appear on the playing field in any telecast for the remainder of preseason. Eleven teams had been using virtual ads in locally produced preseason games (THE DAILY).

Roush Fenway Racing on Friday announced a multiyear deal with home, lawn and garden pest control product company Ortho to serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford driven by Greg Biffle. Ortho will debut on the No. 16 car during the Aug. 31 Oral-B 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will appear on the car for two more races this season before becoming the car's anchor partner in '15 (RFR). In Charlotte, Jim Utter noted 3M has "been Biffle's primary sponsor but they are leaving Roush to move to Jeff Gordon's No. 24 car at Hendrick Motorsports next season" (, 8/22). The AP noted Ortho will sponsor Biffle for "roughly half" of his races next season. The new paint scheme "features images of red fire ants and the words 'fire ant killer'" (AP, 8/22). 

GOOD NEWS: The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Utter noted it "seems like the sponsor news in NASCAR as of late is taking a more positive overall turn." Joe Gibbs Racing's addition of Arris is "one of the largest investments from a new sponsor to the sport in years." Leavine Family Racing over the weekend "debuted the addition of Thrivent Financial, a Fortune 500 company making its first venture NASCAR" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/23).

Female LLWS P Mo'ne Davis "has a trip planned for a round of talk show appearances," and one of the questions already being asked is whether Davis should "try to cash in on her celebrity," according to Longman & Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. Sports marketing experts "agree that Davis and her family must decide quickly." But "few athletes face such significant decisions at such a young age," and estimates on Davis' earning potential "vary widely." It is also "unclear whether the acceptance of money would compromise Davis’s amateur status and eligibility to play high school sports at the private school she attends in Philadelphia." Davis' stepfather Mark Williams said that he "had rebuffed an inquiry about a potential book deal." Burns Entertainment President Doug Shabelman said that Davis "might be able to earn $5,000 to $25,000 from a sports drink deal." Shabelman: "It was a great little run, but there’s not going to be vast money from this unless she gets a movie done about her or a TV show, which is very unlikely." But other experts "estimated that Davis’s earning potential could be much higher, perhaps $100,000 a year alone from a shoe and apparel deal, and that, in the right circumstances, she might be able to pay for college without needing an athletic scholarship." Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said that he thought Davis "could earn up to $500,000 as a teenage role model endorsing products from sports drinks to cellphones, computers, school supplies and fashion" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23). MLB Network’s Dan Plesac said Davis' autograph and signature have "some value," and this "isn’t a little thing.” MLB Network's Chris Rose noted a Davis-signed baseball recently sold on eBay for $510. Rose: "The unfortunate thing is she can't capitalize financially. ... Because she eventually wants to play baseball or basketball somewhere down the road, she would lose her eligibility if she were to go to college. She can’t reap the reward, and that’s the unfortunate thing" (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 8/22).

FEMALES' 15 MINUTES: In DC, Sally Jenkins wrote for "all of the American male self-congratulation for treating Davis as an 'athlete' instead of a girl, the fact is that Davis’s ability to command sports media attention post-puberty, and thus ever make a living on her talent, is highly in doubt and subject to their apathy." Davis appeared on the cover of SI "because a man deemed her unrepulsive enough to put her there." But had she been playing "against other girls, instead of boys, they never would have wasted a thought on her" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/23).

Jacksonville-based supermarket chain Winn-Dixie last week announced it will be the “official and exclusive” supermarket sponsor for both the Univ. of Florida and Florida State Univ., according to Drew Dixon of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The move comes "more than a year after Winn-Dixie ended its longstanding sponsorship" with the Jaguars. The new sponsorship deal "coordinates advertising and promotions with about 400 Florida-based Winn-Dixie stores." The partnership calls for a “prominent presence” of Winn-Dixie at both Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and Doak Campbell Stadium. The company also gets "use of both schools’ logos in advertising and promotional materials." In addition, the deal will "involve Winn-Dixie advertising at pre-game tailgating events outside the stadiums." The accord also includes a "Winn-Dixie presence inside basketball and baseball venues and will feature advertisements in radio broadcasts." Terms and monetary value of the sponsorship deal were not disclosed (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/23).