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Volume 24 No. 134

Marketing and Sponsorship

Warriors F Kevin Durant's new colorway for his Nike signature shoes "showcase all the negative terms he’s been called as well as all of his accomplishments last season," according to Daniel Mano of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. The KD 10 Finals have "terms like 'snake' and 'cupcake' and 'traitor' inscribed on the insoles -- along with the reminder" that the Warriors went 16-1 in the playoffs en route to the '17 NBA championship behind Durant’s Finals MVP performance. The shoes are "clearly more for those who called him a quitter, weak, pathetic and a coward for leaving the Thunder" for the Warriors last offseason. That is "seemingly why Durant also featured the phrases '16-1' and '2017 champs' and 'Finals MVP' in yellow -- honoring one of the Warriors colors -- along with his statistics in each game" of the '17 NBA Finals (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/13). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said Durant is on a "vengeance" and "vindication tour" with his new sneaker line (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN, 9/13). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke said, “Everyone got on him for this move. If he wants to have the last word and have it on the soles of his shoe ... he could do that.” The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Woody Paige said the shoes “are fun,” featuring both stats and criticisms. Paige: “It’s entertainment and the shoes, from what I’ve heard, are already sold out” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/13).

TURN IT DOWN A NOTCH: FS1’s Skip Bayless said Durant is the "thinnest-skinned superstar I have ever observed closely in all my career." Bayless: "He cares so much that he cares too much what everybody says about him. ... I keep thinking, 'You showed them ... you shut them all up, all the critics and the doubters and the haters and the naysayers, all of them. All the trolls, boom, done, over!' But he couldn't live with that. He needs to say, ‘I told you so’ in the insoles of his new shoes. He's got to tell them 30 different ways” (“Undisputed,” FS1, 9/13). The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates said, “This is 10 pounds of petty in a five pound bag. Relax KD, you won the Finals MVP. You’re fine" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/13).

Furniture Row Racing Owner Barney Visser has confirmed that he will "shutter the No. 77" car for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in '18, barring a "miracle walk-on sponsor at the last minute," according to Jerry Jordan of racing blog KICKIN' THE TIRES. Visser: "Right now, we don’t have a sponsor lined up for the 77. There is no way we can run it without sponsorship, so we’re going to have to put it down." Visser said that any shutdown of the No. 77 car, currently driven by Erik Jones, would "hopefully not be permanent and his goal would be to bring it back." Visser downplayed losing Jones to Joe Gibbs Racing, who is "moving prematurely after Matt Kenseth announced his pending separation from the No. 20 team earlier this year." The goal was to "keep Jones for a few years and then have him transfer to JGR." However, when Carl Edwards retired in January, it "set off a chain of events that rippled across to Furniture Row Racing." Visser said that it "isn’t the first time a deal has gone bad but he stopped short of expressing disappointment in Toyota over the situation" (, 9/12).

PUT ON THE BREAKS: Danica Patrick will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing next year, and in Chicago, Madeline Kenney noted many people are "speculating that this could mean the end" of her racing career. But the 35-year-old "shot down rumors that she was retiring" yesterday. Patrick: "That’s just not the case. It really just means that I’m not going to be driving for that team anymore. ... If I feel like I have an opportunity to be in a car that’s going to give me the ability to have fun, which is run well, then that’s what I’m doing to do" (, 9/13). But's Bob Pockrass wrote Patrick's "chances of finding a ride are minimal at best." Any sponsor willing to "commit to Patrick would have to recognize it would likely be a one-year venture, or two years at the most." Patrick: "I've been on the good end of sponsorship and money for a very long time, basically my whole career. So this is definitely a different position. But it's the way it goes. It is just a business. If the money is there, then teams are going to move forward. Money is harder than ever to come by. ... It's a tough world" (, 9/13).

Tony Allen signing with the Pelicans earlier this week means his "days as a spokesman for the Memphis airport are over," according to Michelle Corbet of the MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Allen had been the "featured spokesman in airport ads and videos" for Memphis Int'l Airport for the past two years. While his contract with the airport ended back in April, it still "retains the rights to use his likeness indefinitely." As it became clear Allen "would sign with another team, the airport started to scale back" the use of his images and videos. It is now "working to change out any remaining artwork." The airport had "used Allen's likeness on billboard advertisements, in promotional videos, on cardboard cutouts for social media and more." Meanwhile, the airport "still has a year left of its $530,000 partnership with the Grizzlies and, while it does not have agreements with other individual players, it plans to work with the team to reach existing and potential travelers" (, 9/14).

WELL LOOK WHO IT IS: The Grizzlies will play the Pelicans in their home opener this season, and in Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote the team "couldn’t have been happy to learn that Allen will be back at FedExForum on opening night." It will be a "waste of a good crowd," as the home opener was "always going to sell out." Allen’s return following seven seasons with the team also "was always going to sell out." Combining the two "doesn’t help with ticket sales" (, 9/13).

Fans attending Sunday's Browns-Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium will receive "free DNA test kits" via a promotion from Boston-based biotech firm Orig3n, according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore SUN. It is an approach "stretching the usual giveaway model, and likely to generate fan buzz." It also "contains an element of public-relations risk: The value of direct-to-consumer genetic testing is the subject of scientific debate." Orig3n, which is sponsoring the event, said that fans who choose to participate "can learn about their genetic makeup." The procedure "begins when fans swab the inside of their cheek, drop the sample into a stadium bin and register with the company online." Promotional material prepared for the event "bears the logos of the company and the Ravens." It "depicts a DNA strand with the message: 'Purple and Black are in your genes -- now find out what else is.'" Orig3n is offering a "test of four genes" for free. Barker notes Orig3n has a sponsorship with "one other NFL team," the 49ers. But the company and the Ravens said that Sunday’s DNA test giveaway "is new." Ravens Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Business Development Kevin Rochlitz said, "They’re trying to enhance the fan experience at our home games. It’s a tool for consumers to have better access to information about their bodies." Orig3n "only recently began sponsoring the Ravens -- it set up an informational booth during the preseason" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14).

Alaska Airlines has been "selected as the official airline" of the MLB Giants. In San Jose, George Avalos noted the Giants "initiated a partnership" in '08 with Virgin America, an airline that Alaska Airlines bought in '16, and the new agreement "effectively extends that prior arrangement." Alaska Airlines as part of the deal "unveiled a design for a new Giants-themed Airbus 321 featuring the Giants logo and team colors, along with a Golden Gate Bridge image, that will begin flying early next year" (, 9/13).

BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING: In Portland, Jamie Goldberg notes footwear company Danner is teaming with the Timbers to release a "limited-edition Timbers-themed hiking boot called the Timbers 600." The boots are "designed to handle tough weather conditions and difficult trail hiking." Danner will be "celebrating the release of the new boots with Timbers mascot, Timber Joey, on Saturday at the club's official watch party for the Timbers-Real Salt Lake game." The Timbers 600 cost $225 and are "available in both men's and women's sizes." The boots "will be available for pre-order" starting today (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/14).

THE NEWEST COMMISH: In Michigan, Josh Slagter noted former NFLer Peyton Manning stars in a new spot with DirecTV, this time with him as a "fantasy football commissioner." Slagter: "It's as funny as you'd expect" (, 9/13).

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