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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

Georgia Tech today announced that Adidas will be the school's "official supplier of team uniforms, apparel, shoes and accessories" through the '24 season, according to JuliaKate Culpepper of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The six-year partnership is set to take effect July 1, 2018. The only Power Five school under contract with Russell Athletic, Georgia Tech announced in June it would "not renew its contract with its current athletics sponsor" after the '17-18 academic year (AJC.com, 8/22). RIVALS.com's Kelly Quinlan wrote the Adidas partnership is GT AD Todd Stansbury's "first big move." Sources said that Adidas "outbid Nike" for the GT account, offering a "good deal for Georgia Tech athletics going into the next decade." GT joins Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, Mississippi State, NC State, Nebraska and Texas A&M as "major programs with an Adidas sponsorship" (RIVALS.com, 8/21). Adidas North American President Mark King said that the deal "was vital to the company's strategy of gaining a stronger foothold in the South." The company is "planning a new footwear production facility in Atlanta" (AP, 8/22).

PUSHING AHEAD
: BARRON's Avi Salzman wrote Adidas is "on the way up and Nike is on the way down, and some analysts don’t see that trend changing in the near future." Amid the "overall slowdown" of sneaker sales in the past few months, some companies are "faring better than others." Adidas, which "surged last year as the public latched onto its retro brands like Stan Smith, continues to post strong sales gains in the U.S. and has leveraged that success to sell other kinds of sneakers." Web traffic is also "accelerating at Adidas, and slipping at Nike" (BARRONS.com, 8/21).

ESPN has tapped Droga5, N.Y., to "support a new brand campaign as it grapples with changing behaviors in TV viewing," according to Alexandra Bruell of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. ESPN hired Droga5 to "handle a new campaign for its overarching brand and 'SportsCenter.'” The campaign is "aimed at today’s more diverse and distracted sports fan." Droga5 is tasked with "helping ESPN create a brand that resonates across audiences and on various media platforms," but it "won’t be easy." Wieden+Kennedy, N.Y., worked with ESPN for "over two decades before parting ways late last year," and was behind the net’s longtime "This is SportsCenter” campaign. ESPN President of Global Sales & Marketing Ed Erhardt said that despite its plans for a "marketing revamp, ESPN won’t completely abandon the ad" (WSJ.com, 8/21). ADWEEK's Patrick Coffee noted Droga5 has "produced notable work for athletic brands" such as Under Armour. Its "most recent new business wins" include China-based streaming platform Tencent and Dos Equis. Data from Kantar Media shows ESPN in '16 spent "approximately" $26.3M on measured media (ADWEEK.com, 8/21).

M&T Bank will give fans a "closer look into the personal life" of Ravens QB Joe Flacco as part of the bank's effort to "ramp up its marketing effort as football season gets set to begin," according to Holden Wilen of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. In "two upcoming television ads," M&T Bank, which also entitles the Ravens' stadium, will feature Flacco and his family. The first ad will run on Saturday during the Ravens' last preseason game and depicts Flacco "baking pancakes with his wife and four children at their home in New Jersey." He explains that M&T Bank "helps him spend less time banking and more with his children." The second ad, which will debut Sept. 4, features Flacco "discussing how he thinks of Baltimore as his home and how he has enjoyed partnering with M&T Bank at various community events." Flacco "teamed with M&T Bank last year" after having previously been a spokesperson for First Mariner Bank. M&T Bank VP/Advertising & Promotions Rick Carter said that the company "started coming up with the ideas for the TV spots about three months ago." Crowley Webb, Buffalo, "helped create the spots." The bank will also be "offering a free insulated Ravens water bottle to people who open a new account" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/22).

Smithfield Foods is working toward a return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team Richard Petty Motorsports, according to sources. The Virginia-based company is in a contract year with RPM, and the company has been pursued by several competing teams. While a deal with RPM is not finalized, Smithfield is said to be in talks to return there. Team co-Owner Richard Petty has expressed mixed messages in his public comments about trying to keep Smithfield. He told NBC Sports last month that he was “confident” about it, but that came just a week after he told Racer magazine that the team was “struggling” to earn the renewal. Smithfield has been linked with moves away from RPM, most notably with Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Ford that is currently driven by Danica Patrick. The company signed a three-year extension with RPM in ’14 through this season, and it is believed to be spending in the $10-12M range annually as the team’s most visible sponsor. Sources said that the company is looking at recalibrating its spend next year in the form of cuts to the program. Retaining Smithfield would be a vital development for RPM, which industry execs have feared could land in financial trouble if it lost the company. Smithfield has turned into one of the sport’s most active brands, securing media buys on both Fox and NBC, as well as initiating an at-track activation presence. The company has heavily leveraged working with Petty, the sport’s most winning driver of all time. RPM declined comment; Smithfield did not return a request for comment by presstime.

GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS: The No. 43 Ford sponsored by Smithfield is driven by Aric Almirola, and the Cuban-American driver’s contract is up after this year. RPM has said that it is working to find additional sponsorship for a full-season effort in the No. 44 car for Bubba Wallace, who drove the No. 43 four times earlier this season while Almirola was recovering from injury. Sources said that it is possible that Wallace could end up replacing Almirola in the No. 43. A source close to RPM called such a possibility premature but did not rule it out. Meanwhile, RPM’s manufacturer deal with Ford is also up after this year, and sources said it is possible that the team could switch to Chevy next season. Chevy declined comment, as did Ford.

The Raiders have "already cut a one-year business sponsorship agreement" in Las Vegas for a "six-figure deal to allow the Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers chain to use the famed Raiders logo on its items," according to Alan Snel of LVSPORTSBIZ.com. Signs with the Raiders and Raising Cane's logos have "sprung up around the Vegas Valley." The message reads, “Coming 8/30/17 #Impatiently Waiting.” The deal is "significant because it shows the NFL team is already securing business partnerships with Las Vegas businesses" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 8/21). Henderson-based Galleria at Sunset Mall Marketing Dir Jamie Lamphere said that the Raiders will "plant their next visible roots in the valley with the opening of official merchandise stores" at the shopping center. Lamphere said that the store will open in "late October or early November." In Las Vegas, Adam Candee notes in two months, the Southern Nevada locations will be the 10th and 11th in the team's portfolio, joining stores in Northern and Southern California (LAS VEGAS SUN, 8/22).

USA Gymnastics sponsor Procter & Gamble yesterday said that it "supports implementing steps to prevent the sexual abuse of girls who compete in the sport," according to Barrett Brunsman of the CINCINNATI BUSINESS COURIER. P&G Associate Dir of Media Relations & Social Media Tressie Rose said, “The safety of athletes is paramount. We’ve expressed this to them." Bronze Medal-winning gymnast Jamie Dantzscher last week ahead of the P&G Championships "called for the removal of some members of USA Gymnastics senior leadership" following the abuse scandal involving former team physician Larry Nassar. Dantzscher, who was on the '00 Sydney Games team, urged P&G to "help bring about change." Rose said P&G supports USA Gymnastics taking action, “including accepting the recommendations by an independent expert and hiring a new safe sport director.” P&G brand ambassadors include Gold Medal-winning gymnasts Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/21).