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Volume 24 No. 132

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Warriors have signed the "largest of the NBA ad patch deals," selling the space on their jersey for the "next three years to Japanese tech holding company Rakuten," according to Darren Rovell of Sources said that the deal is worth $20M a year, "nearly doubling the second-highest deal" signed by the Cavaliers with Goodyear. The Warriors will "sport Rakuten's genuine logo with red and black on their white jerseys and a white version of the logo on the blue-and-slate jerseys." Warriors CMO Chip Bowers said, "We actually had multiple finalists. This was not the biggest deal that we were offered." Bowers said that the team "felt it was important for the deal to be done with a worldwide brand." Rakuten, which made S.F. its North American HQ in '15, was "aggressive in its bid to land the deal." Rakuten Founder & CEO Hiroshi Mikitani "reached out to the team and showed up in person at the first meeting."  Rakuten has "ratcheted up its sponsorship spend of late." In July, its name "started appearing" on La Liga club FC Barcelona's kit in a deal worth $235M over four years. Rovell reports the jersey sponsorship comes with "six other designations, which last longer than three years in length." Rakuten will be the team's "official ecommerce, video on demand and affiliate marketing partner." Its cash-back site ebates will become the team's "official shopping rewards partner, its messaging service Rakuten Viber will be official instant messaging and calling app, while its Rakuten Kobo will be the official e-reader partner" (, 9/12). The deal also includes naming rights to the team’s practice facility, which will be called the Rakuten Performance Center. The practice rights component of the deal runs for two years until the team opens the new $1B Chase Center in S.F. The practice facility will be on the grounds of the new venue. This marks the first time the Warriors have had a practice center sponsor. The Warriors said that CAA Sports worked with the team on the deal (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

Smithfield Foods will "leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the conclusion" of the '17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and "make the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing," according to Nick DeGroot of Smithfield has been aligned with RPM since '12, "winning one Cup race." The brand "confirmed the move and explained that their reasoning behind the switch had to do with a desire to be more competitive on the race track" (, 9/12).'s Bob Pockrass notes RPM had been "confident that it would continue a relationship with Smithfield and is now scrambling to find an anchor sponsor." Negotiations with driver Aric Almirola also "stalled as the team attempted to finalize the sponsorship deal." While RPM's future "appears in limbo, so does the SHR driver lineup." Both Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch "do not have set deals with SHR" for '18, and neither driver has sponsorship "solidified for next season." SHR has said that it is "trying to work things out with Busch." Almirola, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are also free agents for '18, and each are "possible replacements for Patrick or Busch at SHR." It is "unclear whether Smithfield could sponsor Almirola," as sponsorship contracts in NASCAR "sometimes contain clauses that prohibit a sponsor to move with a driver." SHR also has "open inventory" on Clint Bowyer's car. RPM was a "two-car organization up until this season when it downsized to one car focusing on Almirola" (, 9/12).

Panini, the exclusive trading card licensee of the NFL and NFLPA, is launching a marketing campaign supporting its NFL trading cards this week, featuring top rookies including Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette and Texans QB Deshaun Watson. The ad was shot at the '17 NFLPA Rookie Premiere in L.A. The spot focuses on the line that “we all collect something,” as told through the journeys of the rookies and their paths to the NFL. The ad breaks later this week and will run on ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and NFL Network. Targeting sports outlets is a change in strategy, as Panini’s NFL TV spots previously focused on kid networks. The campaign includes 15-second player-specific vignettes extending the campaign across social and digital platforms. Panini will produce more than 30 different NFL trading-card products this NFL season.

The Ducks have named Toshiba the team’s official documents solution provider, marking the company's latest sports partnership after striking a deal with the Tigers in July. The key to the Ducks partnership is Toshiba’s new Elevate technology, which will allow the franchise to have its Toshiba equipment customized to its needs. The Elevate technology, which Toshiba has been developing for a couple of years and released in July, emphasizes efficiency and security, reducing the number of steps to complete a function to as few as one. Toshiba America Business Solutions Chief Marketing Exec Bill Melo said this customization factor is “making what can be a complicated device less intimidating and friendlier.” Administrating the equipment, of which the Ducks have 17 units, is cloud based and allows for customizable messages to be placed on equipment display. Ducks Chief Commercial Officer Bill Pedigo said, “The efficiency part of it will really help with regular 365 business operation as well as on gameday and the needs that we have.” Toshiba is able to customize the equipment so that functions can take on their own personality. The Ducks’ interface can include the team logo as well as images of pucks and players. Pedigo compared the impact of the Toshiba’s product to that of player equipment. He said, “The goalie pads have changed, the materials of hockey sticks and padding continues to change and get better, lighter, stronger. … It allows our staff to perform better." The deal was negotiated by Melo and Ducks Director of Corporate Partnerships Graham Siderius.

Ten NBA stars "pop up around an otherwise typical city neighborhood" in CP+B, L.A.'s "fun launch film" for NBA 2K18, which drops Sept. 19, according to David Gianatasio of ADWEEK. The spot "promotes the 2K Sports franchise’s new 'Open World' feature, which lets gamers explore different aspects of the broader basketball experience, including visiting various local haunts." The spot features Nets G D’Angelo Russell, Thunder F Paul George, 76ers C Joel Embiid, Cavaliers G Isaiah Thomas, Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, Basketball HOFer Bill Walton, Raptors G DeMar DeRozan, Suns G Devin Booker, T'Wolves C Karl-Anthony Towns and Celtics G Kyrie Irving. CP+B Creative Dir Barnaby Blackburn said, "We liked the idea of this perfect basketball neighborhood, a place with all the venues you’d expect to find in an everyday neighborhood and with all the regulars you’d expect to bump into. The difference being that these regulars, from the barber to the tattoo-shop owner to the guy playing cards on the steps, are NBA superstars, and that everything in this neighborhood exists to serve basketball." The spot was filmed over two days in South Central L.A. and Long Beach in June. Gianatasio wrote this "marks another notable marketing push for the NBA 2K franchise from CP+B, following its work for NBA 2K17, which featured a Fitbit tie-in encouraging gamers to get more exercise" (, 9/11).

WNBA teams and players' upcoming appearance in EA Sports' "NBA Live" is a "publicity grab," and "given the state of women’s sports today, there’s nothing wrong with that," according to Shira Springer of the BOSTON GLOBE. The WNBA’s video game debut comes 20 years after the league's launch and is a "classic win-win." By adding WNBA players to "NBA Live," EA Sports "gets the kind of buzz companies crave prior to a big release." And the WNBA "gets credibility with a bigger, broader audience." It "promotes the league’s quality of play and entertainment value." It also "normalizes female professional athletes." It is about the WNBA being "welcomed into pro basketball and sports culture in a way that hasn’t happened before." EA Sports saw the addition of the WNBA as "good for business." It is figuring out "how to expand its reach, produce a more competitive 'NBA Live' game, and make money." And there is "nothing wrong with that, either" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).

MORE TO COME: The AP's Doug Feinberg notes WNBA teams and players can "only be used in exhibition mode this year, and users can't create new female players yet, either." But the plan is to "add new features for the women in future versions of the game." Members of the N.Y. Liberty were still "impressed by some of the details programmers got right, including their choice of shoe and hairstyle" -- C Stefanie Dolson's purple hair even "made the cut." Phoenix Mercury C Brittney Griner has "all of her tattoos." There is even the WNBA's ''Watch Me Work'' campaign "on the video boards and the WNBA Pride logo on the scorer's table." However, Liberty G Sugar Rodgers noticed that players in the game "tended to use their left hand more than in real life." That may be because San Antonio Stars rookie G Kelsey Plum, who is left-handed, was "one of the main people used by EA Sports for motion capture" (AP, 9/12).