Many observers thought Nike’s departure from the golf equipment business would "pave the way for others such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and Ping to lock in endorsement contracts with players who suddenly were free agents," but it "hasn’t worked out that way," according to David Dusek of GOLFWEEK. Instead of "all-encompassing deals in which players agree to wear a company’s branded clothing and swing its clubs, many players are taking an à la carte approach to their gear." With the "absence of Nike and the split between TaylorMade and Adidas, these kinds of deals are likely to become more common." There are "fewer manufacturers capable of signing players to all-encompassing deals the way Nike and Adidas (with TaylorMade) could." A few players, like Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka, have "put off equipment deals altogether and are playing without club contracts." Finau is an example of players "showing a willingness to mix-and-match equipment brands." Finau this season has "played Ping woods and irons, along with a Callaway driving iron, Titleist Vokey Design wedges and a Scotty Cameron for Titleist putter." He might "sign an equipment deal in the months ahead." For equipment-makers, the "diversification in endorsement deals is a double-edged sword." While it is "great having more pros use a company’s gear and it costs less to sign golfers to equipment-only contracts," the downside is that it can be "challenging to get the brand’s logo noticed on TV and have the company associated with the player" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/15).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Basketball player Guo Ailun, who in the spring signed on as Jordan Brand's first Chinese endorser, is set to become the "first international athlete to have his own Jordan signature sneaker," according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com. Negotiated by Wasserman, the shoe deal will pay Guo more than $3M annually "after incentives." Guo previsouly had a personal deal with China-based brand Li-Ning, which also had an "exclusive footwear rights deal" with the Chinese Basketball Association, where Guo is a guard with the Liaoning Flying Leopards. That deal "just expired, and the league is now going through a series of options for the upcoming season." It is "expected that the league will go back to allowing all brands to have logo visibility on court, as no company has stepped up with interest in paying" the $60M per season that Li-Ning had been paying. Despite "varied talents and tuned-in audience," the NBA's influx of big men from China, including HOFer Yao Ming, "never made an impact on the footwear industry." Guo aims to "break that mold" and as their partnership "continues to grow, Guo and Jordan Brand are also hoping to impact the game and his local community." Guo said, "I want to start some training camps in my hometown with Jordan. I want to go to some rural and poor areas in China and donate courts and do a lot together." As it stands, Jordan Brand "didn't sign him with the expectation that they'd be getting in early on one of the sport's next crossover stars in America." The brand signed Guo to "further entrench the brand in China, regardless of the league in which he plays" (ESPN.com, 8/17).
A-B's Bud Light brand on Thursday announced that it will continue its tradition of NFL team-themed packaging for '17. This season, Bud Light will be available in team-specific cans and aluminum bottles. In total, there will be 28 team designs -- the Cowboys, Bears, Packers and Vikings are not included -- and a special 36-pack with all 32 NFL teams represented. This year's can/bottle designs prominently feature each team logo as well as a catch phrase or rallying cry for each NFL franchise (Bud Light). In Phoenix, Jeremy Cluff noted the Cowboys, Bears, Packers and Vikings "have deals with MillerCoors" (AZCENTRAL.com, 8/17).
WHAT TIME IS IT? WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY's Mimosa Spencer noted Louis Vuitton-owned Swiss watch brand Hublot has added Patrick Reed to its "list of professional golfing brand ambassadors." Reed joins golfers Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose in "partnering with the brand." Hublot "welcomed the partnership with Reed by throwing a cocktail party Tuesday at the Woodlands Country Club in Houston." Hublot also counts Usain Bolt, Pelé and Diego Maradona as brand ambassadors (WWD.com, 8/16).
DRIVING IN RUNS: Illinois-based online grocer Peapod has signed on to become an official partner of the Yankees. Peapod’s logo will be displayed at Yankee Stadium and area customers will begin seeing Peapod drivers in Yankees caps as they make deliveries. Peapod will also sponsor the Yankees’ Healthy Home Plate Program (Peapod).