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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Nature’s Bakery on Thursday announced intentions to countersue NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing over its Danica Patrick sponsorship issue. SHR sued Nature’s Bakery earlier this month for breach of contract after the Nevada-based fig bar maker sent a note to SHR in mid-January saying it was going to terminate its three-year sponsorship deal worth $15.2M annually. In a sharply worded press release, Nature’s Bakery called SHR’s suit a “false legal complaint.” Nature's Bakery CEO Kelly Allin said, "They now are threatening scorched earth litigation against a multi-generational family company. We’re obviously not going to let them bully us." The loss of Nature’s Bakery has left SHR with around 20 races to fill heading into the season, but that effort was helped with this week’s announcement that Aspen Dental was stepping up its commitment with Patrick’s No. 10 Ford from four races to at least 10 (Adam Stern, Staff Writer). The AP's Mark Long noted Nature’s Bakery "took issue with Patrick using Instagram to promote Six Star Pro Nutrition protein powder, Purely Inspired protein, homemade energy balls, a homemade spinach smoothie and other home-cooked items including ice cream and grilled cheese." SHR "maintained that none of those items competed with Nature’s Bakery products and that the company had 'liked' most of the Instagram posts." SHR said that Nature’s Bakery "had not complained about the Instagram posts until it began missing payments" (AP, 2/16). 

It has been "nearly a year" since the NBA gave teams the green light to place ads on jerseys, but so far only five teams "have secured deals," according to Ahiza Garcia of CNN MONEY. The 76ers were the first team to sign a deal -- in May with StubHub -- but then "nothing until October," when the Kings signed with Blue Diamond Growers. Since January three teams have "announced deals -- the Celtics partnered with GE, the Nets teamed up with software company Infor" and the Jazz signed a deal with software company Qualtrics. The three recent deals "may be a sign that more are on the way, but the slow pace is a sign that it's been hard to put a value on the new ad space." It is also a "newer concept for American sports teams, making it harder for advertisers to determine what they'll get for their investment." The patches are "not a long-term guarantee -- they're part of a three-year pilot program in the NBA." And most of the companies that have "agreed to buy the jersey ad space have done so as part of a larger marketing deal" (, 2/14). The Cavaliers reportedly have a jersey patch deal with Goodyear, but it has not been confirmed by the team or the NBA (THE DAILY).

RALLYING POINT: In Salt Lake City, Gordon Monson wrote fans "can handle" logos from Nike or adidas on jerseys. But in leagues already making millions and billions of dollars, "making a few more with corporate patches on uniforms seems downright greedy." However, the Jazz' addition of a "5 For The Fight" patch to promote cancer research "was heartening." Monson: "How can anyone complain about that? Not me, that's for sure. And not you. ... So credit to the Jazz, credit to Qualtrics." Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith said, "This is the right thing to do. As much as I would love to put Qualtrics on it, this idea of raising $50 million for cancer research was something we couldn't stop thinking about. The Jazz were open to our ideas and how we wanted to use the patch. ... We just didn't go with the highest bidder. It's something we all can rally around" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/16).

Cavaliers F LeBron James is "without debate, the most powerful athlete in entertainment today," according to Pablo Torre of ESPN THE MAGAZINE. James founded SpringHill Entertainment and produced its first show "Survivor's Remorse," and has been involved in NBC primetime game show "The Wall" and "Space Jam 2," which is still in the early stages. He also had a hand in the feature-length documentary about Muhammad Ali coming for HBO and a comedy in "development for New Line Cinema about a guy who pretends to be an NBA draft pick." NBC President of Alternative & Reality Programming Paul Telegdy said James will have "one of the most exciting careers to be a part of for the next two decades." Torre notes James is a "globally recognizable brand that attracts eyeballs," as he has "more than 60 million followers between Twitter and Instagram." James can "create viral marketing." Comedian and director Neal Brennan, who has worked with James on commercials, said, "LeBron is a bridge to black programming. The impetus for picking up a show may start off stupid, even embarrassing: LeBron's a guy executives just want to meet. But then white people get access to a smart black dude who has them spend time around other smart black people." Torre notes while it is true that SpringHill has "consistently leveraged the magnetic pull" of James, LRMR Management Founder Maverick Carter, James' business manager, does "not want to be known only for merchandising his friend's image." While James "helps sell the shows, he isn't all over them."

STAR OF THE SHOW? James was "lauded by critics" for his performance as himself in the movie "Trainwreck," but the movie "wasn't James' film." Carter said, "He's not even on the poster." Additionally, as much as James "overdelivered, his character was, yes, himself." James has "committed to sitting down each offseason in L.A. ... and reviewing offers for his next movie role," and the offers "are coming." James was asked if at some point he "might want to be what every blockbuster-starved producer is truly craving" -- a superhero --a role that can be the "most lucrative in modern entertainment." James: "I love comedy, but I've always wanted to be a superhero" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 2/27 issue).

Cubs 3B Kris Bryant in a new video for sponsor Red Bull "gets pranked" by Baseball HOFer Greg Maddux, according to Tim Nudd of ADWEEK. Bryant thinks he is "shooting a workout video, and Maddux -- in full disguise, including a beard and a beer belly -- is the sound guy working the shoot." When the person throwing batting practice "leaves unexpectedly, Maddux asks to fill in." Viewers can "imagine what happens next." Nudd: "Very fun stuff from Red Bull, and a great way to kick off spring training" (, 2/16). In Chicago, Tony Andracki wrote it is a "marketing gimmick, of course, but it's still legitimately pretty funny." Maddux "gets out there and starts snapping off some curveballs, prompting Bryant to say, 'He might actually be better than the other guy'" (, 2/16). Bryant says in the video, "This sound guy's got a good curveball. What is this?" (, 2/16). In Chicago, Phil Thompson writes Maddux "let Bryant in on the gag" when he asked him to "autograph his bat for 'Greg Maddux.'" It is "only fair, seeing as last year Bryant pranked a community college team by posing as a transfer student." Previously he "posed as a Lyft driver in Chicago" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/17).

LIVING THE DREAM: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes Bryant is a "corporate sponsor's dream with his stardom, striking looks and clean-cut image." He is "already a sponsor for Adidas, Red Bull and Rawlings, does magazine-style shoots for [fashion retailer] Express and in November signed the most lucrative Topps baseball cards deal in company history" (USA TODAY, 2/17). 

In Chicago, Colleen Kane notes White Sox SS Tim Anderson took part of Wednesday to take part in a photo shoot for adidas, where he "modeled some of their gear, including Jackie Robinson Day tribute apparel for the event in April." Anderson "switched" to adidas from Under Armour this year (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/17).

JULIAN, TAKE THE WHEEL: Patriots WR Julian Edelman is appearing in a commercial for Massachusetts-based Prime Motor Group, driving a "black Porsche Cayenne SUV." Edelman was "plugging the Mass. chain of automotive dealerships with a parody" of Ryan Gosling’s '11 movie "Drive" -- with "leather gloves and all" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/17).

TEA TIME: On Long Island, Ken Schachter notes Long Island Iced Tea will be the official tea at the renovated Nassau Coliseum, "giving it exclusive rights at all concession stands and luxury suites" (NEWSDAY, 2/17).