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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas has "surpassed Jordan Brand" in the U.S. and now owns 13% of the domestic sneaker market, according to data from NDP Group cited by Jake Woolf of GQ. Adidas' 13% figure is "more than double what it had a year ago," and 1.7% higher than what was reported in June. Nike still holds the No. 1 spot with about 44% market share, down from 60% in '14, and most observers "agree on the major reason for Nike's decline: a lack of excitement for the basketball and running sneakers so essential to the Swoosh's business." NPD analyst Matt Powell said that Adidas' success has to do with the "popularity of its classic styles." Woolf: "But ask any hypebeast why they've been buying up Adidas sneakers recently, and you're bound to hear the name Kanye West." With Yeezys being produced in "limited runs, it's safe to assume that West's signature line of sneakers has had little direct effect" on Adidas' bottom line. However, there is something to be said for West's "halo effect" on the rest of Adidas' product line (GQ.com, 9/18). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted from January through August, Adidas had 11.3% of the U.S. market share by dollars, up from 6.6% over the same period last year. Jordan Brand essentially "stayed steady," going from 9.4% to 9.5%. Nike dropped from 39% of market share over the first eight months of '16 to 37% for the same period this year (ESPN.com, 9/18). Powell said on Twitter, "This is an achievement I never thought I would see in my lifetime." In Portland, Clare Duffy noted the announcement comes after a "period of major growth" for Adidas that saw the brand keep its North American HQ in Portland (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/18). Quartz' Marc Bain tweeted, "Lots of issues w/ Jordan brand helping Adidas overtake it. Lack of fresh ideas, too much on market, too much on sale." Sneaker News: "None of this is really surprising."

M&T Bank has signed a six-year sponsorship making it the official retail bank of the NFL Jets. Under the deal, M&T, which replaces Chase, will sponsor the Jets’ training camp. Other activation plans include co-branded Jets debit cards and checking accounts and a small business “Shark Tank”-like competition, with the winner receiving $100,000 of Jets sponsorship assets. M&T gained more than 130 branches in the N.Y. metro area through its purchase of Hudson City Bank in ’15. The bank will use the sponsorship to increase visibility and brand awareness. Maryland-based Aquarius Sports & Entertainment, M&T Bank’s longtime sponsorship agency, negotiated the deal. Other M&T Bank sports sponsorships include the Bills and Ravens, along with entitlement to the Ravens’ home stadium.

A search for NBA jerseys on Amazon brings a "mishmash of results," but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently indicated that "may change in the future," according to Jason Del Rey of RECODE. Silver: "From an NBA standpoint, we’re very much in business with Amazon." Silver said Fanatics Founder & Chair Michael Rubin is "entering into a relationship" with Amazon, and "if you’re thinking of Amazon as a place to go to get that [Kristaps] Porzingis jersey, you’re going to be led to Fanatics." Silver: "So in essence, we exist as part of that larger ecosystem." However, a Fanatics spokesperson said that the company "hasn’t held any talks with Amazon about such a deal." A source close to Silver said that the commissioner was "simply speculating about the way things seem to be headed." The "best guess" is that the NBA and Fanatics have "probably talked to each other about the right way to engage with Amazon." Maybe "they’ve agreed on a partnership that makes sense," but those talks "haven’t involved Amazon." It is "hard to ignore the revenue potential of Amazon as the biggest online shopping destination in the U.S." Yet there are still "many more questions about why an Amazon partnership would make sense -- especially since part of Fanatics’ pitch to sports leagues is that everything on its sites is licensed and approved apparel" (RECODE.net, 9/18).

Farmers Insurance "paid Hendrick Motorsports about $660,000 per race over the last six seasons in which Farmers was the primary sponsor for Kasey Kahne" in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, according to details from a lawsuit filed by Sports Marketing Consultants cited by Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com. Farmers was the "primary sponsor for Kahne for 22 races" in '12 ($13.5M), '13 ($14.04M) and '14 ($16.348M). It "decreased its total to 12 races for the next three years," paying $7.6M in '15, $7.8M in '16 and $8M in '17. The contract also shows that Kahne "had to do 16 two-hour appearances per year" from '12-14 and "nine per year" from '15-17. He had to do a "10-minute hospitality session each race weekend" that Farmers was a primary sponsor as well as "meet-and-greets." Kahne was "committed to three eight-hour production days per year." Team owner Rick Hendrick was "committed to one four-hour production day per year." The initial $43.88M, three-year deal also resulted in $3.38M in "commissions to the broker" (ESPN.com, 9/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg noted the lawsuit also puts NASCAR's entitlement deal with Monster Energy into "greater context." Some initial reports pegged the NASCAR-Monster deal as worth $20M annually, but details from the Kahne lawsuit show the brand is "paying more like" $25M in '17 and '18. It is "staggering to step back and think" that Monster is paying close to $25M to sponsor the entire NASCAR Cup Series -- a figure that would have been "less than a full season sponsorship" of Kahne’s car in '14. Bromberg: "It’s still crazy to think that roughly the cost of a full season sponsorship of a Hendrick Motorsports car not driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson could have netted you the rights to the entire racing series just three years later" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/18).

USOC sponsor Dick’s Sporting Goods is launching its '18 PyeongChang Games campaign this week, again emphasizing its “Contenders" program that employs Team USA members. More than 100 summer and winter sport athletes are currently in the program, which offers them flexible hours to accommodate training and international competitions. Dick’s launched Contenders when it first became a USOC sponsor ahead of the '16 Rio Games, where its employees won 23 of 121 total medals for the U.S. Some 43 employees are currently working to qualify for PyeongChang. The media campaign will be anchored by U.S. women’s hockey G Alex Rigsby, a Contenders employee, and figure skater Ashley Wagner, not part of the program but hired for her overall prominence. Several other employees will appear in the campaign, including slopestyle snowboarder Jessika Jenson and men’s Paralympic sledge hockey F Dan McCoy. Dick’s plans television, social/digital and in-store activations. Rigby and Wagner conducted a media tour on Monday. “We see this program as such a perfect fit for us, given that we’re able to support these athletes in a way that really makes a difference to them,” said Dick’s VP/Brand Ryan Eckel. “They tell us over and over, they need flexible jobs to train and compete and earn money to fund that competition. That program does it, and allows us to get these incredible human beings in front of our customers on a day to day basis." Rigby is represented by Brandon Swibel of Rubicon Talent. Wagner is represented by Lowell Taub at CAA Sports. McCoy and Jenson represent themselves. A USOC sponsor since '15, Dick’s contract expires next year. 

ESPN.com's Paul Lukas wrote the diagonal stripes on the Cavaliers "Statement Edition" jerseys by Nike "look like a tire tread, and tires just happen to be the product made by Goodyear, which has an advertising patch on the Cavs' uniforms this year." Lukas: "The season hasn't even started yet and we already have the worst-case scenario that everyone feared regarding the ad patches: They're not just cluttering up the uniforms, but they're driving the designs" (ESPN.com, 9/18).

SOUR TASTE: On Long Island, Aisha Al-Muslim noted locally based acai bowl business Long Island Super Bowls has made the decision to "change their brand name" to SoBol due to the NFL trademark on "Super Bowl." SoBol co-Founder Jason Mazzarone said, "It was really sad. It was not something we wanted to do" (NEWSDAY, 9/18).

WAY TO GO CHAMP: Louisiana Tech has signed an exclusive agreement allowing Learfield Licensing to represent the university and its licensing program (Learfield).