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Volume 25 No. 27

Marketing and Sponsorship

As part of a recent extension with Michael Jordan, Gatorade and Jordan Brand are "unveiling a 'Be Like Mike' collection" that will "feature four different Gatorade Jordans, two of which will be sold starting Dec. 16," according to Darren Rovell of The Air Jordan XXXII "Like Mike" will "feature 'Mike' with the brand's familiar lightning bolt taking the place of the 'I' on the outsole, with some of the words" to the '91 "Like Mike" commercial "stitched on the inner tongue ($160)." The Air Jordan VI "Like Mike" is a "nod to the shoe he wore in the commercial but in Gatorade's orange and green colors and a lace lock in the shape of a Gatorade bottle ($190)." A Gatorade Jordan I and an additional Jordan VI, which is being "kept under wraps, will be revealed and hit stores later in December." An entire apparel collection is "already on the market." Gatorade "abandoned five trademarks to 'Be Like Mike' in recent years but recently filed for two more this year to protect the phrase on the new merchandise" (, 11/15).

OUT IN FRONT: Jordan Brand President Larry Miller on Wednesday said that brand's "biggest problems at the moment" are "maintaining its relevance and pulling back the number of shoes on the market." Miller: "We have to figure out how to keep the brand connected to young consumers as well as consumers that have been with the brand for a while. ... How do we continue to make the brand relevant with today’s consumers. The further Michael gets from the basketball court, the more challenging it is" (, 11/16).

Nike is "rolling out custom uniforms and footwear" for teams playing in the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational next week in Portland that are inspired by Knight's "penchant for all-black outfits and sunglasses," according to Jim Meehan of the Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW. Signature icons -- arena, mascot and pattern -- will be "incorporated into each respective program’s uniforms." The jerseys and shorts "create a striking on-court dynamic: color versus color matchups." Gonzaga's special-edition uniforms will "include a unique zig-zag pattern running down the right side of the uniform with an oversized Bulldog logo on the left leg" (Spokane SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, 11/17). In Michigan, Kyle Austin notes Michigan State's uniforms will be "green with bronze lettering and numbers." The sides of both the jersey and the shorts "have black stripes on them." The team has "worn several different alternate uniforms in recent years, but the Phil Knight Invitational uniforms will mark the first time" since '13 that MSU has "worn bronze numbers" (, 11/16).

GOING BIG: In Portland, Kerry Eggers wrote the Phil Knight event is the "biggest regular-season college basketball tournament ever." It will be a three-day, 16-team, 24-game event played at Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum that "should knock the socks right off the college hoops junkie." Duke, North Carolina, UConn and MSU are among the schools playing. An "ode" to Knight also is planned, as he turns 80 in February. The tourney is the "brainchild" of MSU AD Mark Hollis. Trail Blazers Senior VP/Venue Operations Chris Oxley said, "Mark has done a lot of innovative things. He thought it would be a great opportunity to honor Mr. Knight and all he has meant for college basketball. When Mark came to him with the idea. Mr. Knight told him, 'If you can pull it off, go for it.'" He added, "We were able to pull it together because the coaches and ADs know what Phil has done for college basketball. They want to be part of this celebration. Is it something they'll do on an annual basis? Absolutely not" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 11/16).

FILLING THINGS OUT: In Portland, John Canzano wrote Knight is the "most influential sporting icon of this time, and has done so much that he deserves a basketball tournament in his honor." Canzano: "But the more I look at the PK80, the more I wonder if the aim of the event wasn't so much to recognize Knight but to create another event to fill empty television slots on a national holiday." Lots of tickets "remain available," and they are "good seats." More Canzano: "Unless they're planning a late marketing push, I'm wondering if Knight is going to show up to his 80th birthday party and --- surprise!! -- learn that not that many people decided to join him" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/16).

Harley-Davidson's jersey patch deal with the Bucks has been what team President Peter Feigin called a "fun rebirth" for the motorcycle company's association with the franchise. Feigin noted on a podcast that Milawukee-based Harley-Davidson "had always been a sponsor," but the company had "gone dormant" in recent years. He said, "They are a phenomenal Milwaukee heritage brand, they have invested a lot of capital in re-engineering themselves for the next generation, and the NBA is an unbelievable platform for them to do that on." Feigin noted the idea of approaching Harley-Davidson about the jersey patch came from a meeting "in a Milwaukee CEO forum." The company's CEO was talking "about how they have to re-engineer their customer base, how they’ve got to be more diverse, how they’ve got to expand in China." Feigin: "Every little element was a bullet point in our presentation for selling patch rights. Our head of business development grabbed him after the presentation and said, ‘We should talk’" ("SportsMoney Podcast,", 11/16).

Visa will be releasing a new ad with Starbucks this weekend featuring Panthers RBs Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. This marks the first national spot for McCaffrey, who is in his rookie season. The creative involves a series of payment options, all of which are available at Starbucks. Visa is an official partner of the NFL and the Panthers (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer).

LET'S TOAST: In Chicago, Madeline Kenney reported Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews posted online a "hilarious commercial -- that gives off a 'Masterpiece Theatre' vibe -- of him sitting in a large leather, wingback chair while promoting a toaster that seriously brands his face into a piece of bread." Toasters that "brand bread with Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid's faces are also available" (, 11/16). Also in Chicago, Chris Hine noted the "Toews-ters" are "being sold by Canadian Tire," which sponsors Toews, and "will benefit the company's Jumpstart Charities, which helps makes sports accessible for kids who may not have the resources to participate" (, 11/16).

PROFESSOR STEPH:'s Chris Haynes noted Warriors G Stephen Curry is partnering with education brand MasterClass to "embark on his first online courses in which he'll teach, in a video component, the fundamentals of what makes him one of the most skilled, creative players in the NBA." Curry is the "company's first basketball player" spokesperson. The enrollment fee is $90 for an individual class and $180 for a "year of unlimited access to all classes taught by their professionals." Curry will "occasionally pop in for Q&A sessions" (, 11/16).

EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT: Patriots QB Tom Brady is promoting Under Armour's new "'athlete recovery' bed sheets and pillowcases," a follow-up to the company's "performance pajamas." The "bedding and sleepwear employ technology based on research into the effects of far infrared radiation." The bedding set costs $250-350 (, 11/16).

MLB has named the Rockies its Club Retailer of the Year and the D-backs its inaugural Hard Goods (non-apparel) Retailer of the Year. The awards were given at MLB's annual hard goods retail summit, held earlier this week in Las Vegas. The Rockies were credited for devising a traffic-building gift-with-purchase program with licensee That’s My Ticket, and for an effective multimedia marketing campaign. Both were said to increase store traffic and sales (Terry Lefton, Editor-At-Large).

BEEN CAUGHT STEALING:'s Thomas Barrabi wrote Under Armour "experienced the wrong sort of brand exposure on Wednesday when its logo was prominently displayed while UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill apologized for shoplifting during the university’s trip to China." UA is paying $280M over 15 years to "secure shoe and apparel sponsorship rights for UCLA’s sports team." It is "unlikely that the incident will have discernable impact" on UA’s sales. But brand experts said that the incident marks an "inauspicious start to the most lucrative apparel partnership in college sports history." All three players wore UA logos "while acknowledging their mistakes" (, 11/16).

DIGIDAY's Ilyse Liffreing writes there is an argument that Colin Kaepernick "could be the ideal ambassador for certain brands, especially given how he gets the power of speech and imagery." Marketing consultancy firm Prophet Chief Growth Officer Scott Davis said that brands that "take strong stances like Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch or Urban Outfitters would be 'natural landing places.'" Experimental agency Fake Love Dir of New Business Sam Ewen said that he "could see the quarterback starting his own clothing line or launching one through another brand like Levi’s." He added that brands like Amazon and Ford "wouldn't fit." But Kaepernick himself "might not want to partner with a large brand" (, 11/17).