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Volume 24 No. 179

Marketing and Sponsorship

P&G and Kellogg's, two of USA Gymnastics' largest corporate partners, "have not renewed their sponsorship deals" with the governing body amid "one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in American sports history," according to Scott Reid of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. P&G Associate Dir of Media Relations and Social Media Tressie Rose said, “Our previous partnership terms with USAG have been fulfilled. We will evaluate whether to renew our partnership next spring, in light of our longer term priorities and continued actions on their part" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/15). A Kellogg's spokesperson said its deal ended at the end of '16, and "at this point, we have not renewed but will assess the USAG for 2020 Summer Games. Our focus right now is on activating our Winter Olympics sponsorship” (WASHINGTON POST, 12/15). Reid notes the moves come against the backdrop of former USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar "pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges and state sexual assault charges in Michigan." USAG in a statement said, “Although our contract for the last term with Kellogg’s and Procter and Gamble ended in 2016 and 2017, respectively, we are exploring opportunities with both companies about joining with us in further building a culture of empowerment.” Reid notes NBC, AT&T, Under Armour, Hershey’s and Chobani yogurt "continue to be listed as corporate sponsors" by USAG. But P&G and Kellogg’s, along with NBC, "were the corporate sponsors most closely identified with USA Gymnastics." P&G "replaced Visa as the name sponsor for the sport’s national championships" prior to the '13 season. Kellogg’s sponsored the “Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions” in '16 and the similar nationwide tour in '12 featuring U.S. Olympic champions and medalists (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/15).

Cavaliers G J.R. Smith became the second NBA player this week to don an accessory from fashion company Supreme when he wore the brand's "shooting sleeve on his left arm" for Thursday night's nationally televised game against the Lakers, according to Joe Vardon on the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Smith after the game said, "I thought it looked dope and matched our uniforms." Wizards F Kelly Oubre Jr. on Tuesday wore a Supreme leg sleeve and was told to remove it at halftime. However, Smith said that "no one with the Cavs told him to do the same." He added that he "didn't know if he'd be fined by the NBA" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 12/15). THE SCORE's Alex Wong reported Supreme has "evolved into the most popular streetwear brand in the world," and it was valued at $1B when The Carlyle Group "bought a minority stake in the company in October." It is "popular among NBA players," as Lakers G Jordan Clarkson, Lakers F Brandon Ingram and Suns G Devin Booker are among those that wear Supreme "on a regular basis." Raptors F OG Anunoby has used a "dark teal Supreme backpack for most of the season, and sported a Supreme x Playboy rugby shirt at a team social event in November." Wong noted it is "next to impossible to buy Supreme apparel at retail price," and products put for sale online often "sell out in seconds." Knicks F Kyle O'Quinn: "I wish there was more availability. Sometimes you lose interest when you just can't get it" (THESCORE.com, 12/14).

U.S. Bank’s name "will be everywhere" during the week of Super Bowl LII, played at U.S. Bank Stadium, even "without a high-priced commercial during the game," according to Nicole Norfleet of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. U.S. Bank will "take advantage of the Super Bowl being played in its hometown to connect with the 1 million people who are expected to visit the Twin Cities and the millions more who tune in to watch the game Feb. 4." U.S. Bank is a "sponsorship partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, but not of the Super Bowl itself." The company "purchased TV commercials that will run locally during the Super Bowl pregame show, but it is not running national ads during the game." U.S. Bank will "partner with Visa to take over the McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks restaurant on the ground floor of its corporate office." The restaurant will be "turned into U.S. Bank’s Possibilities Lounge, extending its 'Power of Possible' marketing campaign, and will be part of the Super Bowl Live experience along Nicollet Mall." In the football-themed lounge, visitors will be "given scannable stickers that can be used to 'buy' items like mittens and hats at a vending machine and coffee bar." There will also be "retired athletes at the lounge, which will be open on the Wednesday to Saturday before the Sunday game." At the Super Bowl Experience, U.S. Bank and Visa "will have a presence at the entrance of the NFL Shop." U.S. Bank will also "wrap some of the light-rail stations in advertising" and "already has done so at the station closest to the stadium" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/15).

LOOKING FOR INSURANCE: U.S. Bank CMO Beth McDonnell said, "We really want to take advantage of that opportunity -- when all eyes are going to be not only on Minneapolis and Minnesota, but also U.S. Bank Stadium -- and really try to continue to tell our brand story." In Minneapolis, Nick Halter noted U.S. Bank is "taking steps to ensure that its name and logo are featured prominently during the Super Bowl broadcast." Halter: "How many times will Al Michaels say, 'Welcome back to U.S. Bank Stadium?' How many times will U.S. Bank Stadium signage be shown after a timeout?" U.S. Bank "isn’t leaving that up to chance." McDonnell said, "We have a partnership with NBC. We are working with them on those exact things. It’s a science. They don’t just happen to show U.S. Bank X number of times. We work with them to make sure they show it the number of times we want" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/13). 

The Colts are 3-11 this season, and the team's "habit of loss has brought a hushed sense of disappointment to local retailers" that carry Colts merchandise, according to Fatima Hussein of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Hussein notes "few people are buying, especially jerseys." Matt Hamlon, GM at Indianapolis-area sports memorabilia store Collector's Den, said that sales of Colts merch are "way down this season." He added that if consumers are interested in buying anything, it is the "jerseys of former players: Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne." Hamlon said that "no one cares about current players these days." He has sold "one Andrew Luck jersey this season." Hussein notes Luck has "not played this season" due to injury. Luck ranked 16th in NFL jersey sales last season at Dick's Sporting Goods but has "plummeted to 37th this season." Tickets are "fetching less interest, as well." As recently as Monday, tickets for the Colts' Thursday night matchup with the Broncos were listed on StubHub for "as low as $6." Genesco, the parent of Indiana-based Lids, said that same-store Q3 sales for Lids fell by 6% "compared with the previous year" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/15).

The virtual jerseys and arenas featured in the NBA 2K League "will be sponsored," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The Cavaliers announced that their team "will wear Cavs Legion Gaming jerseys within the game with a Hot Pockets logo on it." The Knicks' sponsor Chase and new jersey sponsor SquareSpace "will have presence in the virtual arena that the Knicks Gaming team will be in, which will not be called Madison Square Garden." Teams can "sell patches on their virtual jerseys within the game, a logo on the team's basketball court and signage around the arena." Each team "will be responsible for controlling its own virtual signage, but the league does have to approve of the sponsors within the game." In some cases, a team's real jersey patch sponsor has "secured digital rights to the jersey patch" in the team's 2K League, but for many, it is a "new revenue stream." The Bucks, for example, who have Harley Davidson on their actual jerseys, are "currently in the market to sell the virtual patch on their Bucks gaming jerseys for games" (ESPN.com, 12/14). SportsBusiness Journal first reported this in August.

HEAT AND EAT: The Cavaliers earlier this week announced a deal making Hot Pockets the first founding partner of Cavs Legion GC, and NBC’s Seth Meyers said, "Oh good, finally people who play video games will find out about Hot Pockets. That’s right, the logo for Hot Pockets will appear on the Cavaliers jerseys in the video game ‘NBA 2K18.’ Incidentally, ‘2K18’ is also the number of calories in a Hot Pocket” (“Late Night,” NBC, 12/15).

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