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Volume 27 No. 35

Marketing and Sponsorship

Sports drink brand BodyArmor in a new ad campaign "mocks what it sees as Gatorade’s lack of innovation over the years," according to Jeff Beer of FAST COMPANY. Gatorade has "long used its heritage as a point of pride and athletic bona fides," but in BodyArmor's new ads, Rockets G James Harden, Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis, Angels CF Mike Trout, and WNBA Wings G Skylar Diggins-Smith "equate it with an aging star on the way out." BodyArmor Chair Mike Repole said that the campaign’s "primary aim is to bring attention to the fact that while sports, training, and athletes have changed dramatically over the past few decades, Gatorade’s formula is stuck in the past." The concept of the campaign is "simple, the message clear: BodyArmor is the future, Gatorade is the past." The campaign is a "throwback to the cola war-style taste test and direct competitor call-out model perfected during that era" (FASTCOMPANY.com, 4/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Mike Oz writes people do not normally think of Trout "as a funny guy," but that might "change after people see" his BodyArmor spot. The ad campaign debuted today online and "will be featured on TNT during the NBA playoffs." Trout said, "I had fun with it. To use the stuff we used, was pretty funny and pretty incredible. I had a great time shooting it." Kobe Bryant "owns a stake in BodyArmor and also wrote and co-directed these spots." Trout said, "I had a conversation with Kobe about it and the guys from Body Armor. The stuff behind it, behind the scenes. To get the point across. Like I said, it’s different. To bring humor involved. To see the activities that I did during the spot" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/18).

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted the ads feature Porzingis "writing a letter to his parents to be delivered by carrier pigeon" and Diggins-Smith "leading a step aerobics class." They also include Harden "entering the arena like a soldier from the renaissance era" and Trout "using a pulsating ab exerciser from the 1970s." Repole said that Bryant "hasn't been afraid to assert himself on the creative side." Repole: "He has done an amazing job. I had one idea and he squashed it in two seconds. I said to myself, 'OK, I'll go back to running the company'" (ESPN.com, 4/18).

Stephen Curry and the Warriors topped the NBA's list of jersey sales and team merchandise for the third consecutive regular season. Rankings are based on NBAStore.com sales since the beginning of the '17-18 season. Rounding out the top five players are Cavaliers F LeBron James, Warriors F Kevin Durant, Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo and Celtics G Kyrie Irving (NBA).

MOST-POPULAR PLAYER JERSEY SALES ON NBASTORE.COM ('17-18 SEASON)
RANK PLAYER RANK PLAYER
1 Warriors G Stephen Curry 8 76ers C Joel Embiid
2 Cavaliers F LeBron James 9 Rockets G James Harden
3 Warriors F Kevin Durant 10 76ers G Ben Simmons
4 Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo 11 Spurs F Kawhi Leonard
5 Celtics G Kyrie Irving 12 Lakers G Lonzo Ball
6 Thunder G Russell Westbrook 13 Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard
7 Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis 14 Warriors G Klay Thompson
    15 T'Wolves F Jimmy Butler
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FREAK THE MIGHTY: Antetokounmpo's 4th place finish is the highest by a Bucks player to finish a season, and is four spots higher than his 8th place finish in '16-17. That marked the first time a Bucks player was in the Top 15 of jersey sales since Basketball HOFer Gary Payton ranked 15th in '03 (Bucks).

MOST-POPULAR TEAM MERCH SALES ON NBASTORE.COM ('17-18 SEASON)
RANK TEAM RANK TEAM
1 Warriors 6 Bucks
2 Cavaliers 7 Thunder
3 76ers 8 Knicks
4 Lakers 9 Bulls
5 Celtics 10 Rockets
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TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS: In Indianapolis, David Woods writes another player whose jersey is selling well is Pacers G Victor Oladipo, who is "checking in at No. 7" on Dick's Sporting Goods list of jersey sales. Heading into the All-Star Game, Oladipo jersey sales "ranked 18th." For the longest time, "consumers could not get their hands on Oladipo's No.4." One Indianapolis retailer said, "Christmastime, you could not even get a Victor Oladipo jersey. You might be able to find a few, but Nike could not keep up with the high demand." Another local retailer said that Oladipo's jersey sales had "'gone up slightly' since the playoffs began." XL and XXL were "the only sizes he had left in stock" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/18). 

Oklahoma City-based Adventure Enterprises filed a lawsuit “claiming that it consulted” with LeBron James’ Uninterrupted platform about the idea for the barbershop-themed series “The Shop” before being “cut out of the production,” according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The suit claims that over a period of two years, Adventure “engaged in ‘numerous talks’” with Uninterrupted “in order to ‘flesh out the idea and figure out a strategy for pitching it to various networks.’” The lawsuit is “seeking an injunction that would cease the production of future episodes of ‘The Shop,’ as well as ‘serious’ monetary compensation.” Adventure is "also suing" Uninterrupted CEO Maverick Carter (ESPN.com, 4/16). In Birmingham, Creg Stephenson noted Uninterrupted in recent weeks "sent a cease-and-desist letter" to Alabama's athletic department, arguing that the school's "Shop Talk" web series "could have infringed on copyrights and intellectual property from James' 'The Shop'" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 4/17). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt cited a source as saying that the lawsuit filed against James is a "publicity stunt" (USA TODAY, 4/17). ESPN's Trey Wingo said of the lawsuit, "I'll be curious to see whether or not there were conversations and what legal protections this Adventure Enterprises did to protect themselves because LeBron and staff do have a patent on this" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 4/17). ESPN's Michelle Beadle: "There are no new ideas" ("Get Up!," ESPN, 4/17).

JUST A KID FROM AKRON: In Akron, Craig Webb notes photos yesterday "were leaked on nikelebron.net -- a website dedicated to all things pertaining to James' shoes -- showing a version of his signature Soldier line that pays homage" to James' alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School. It would "not be the first basketball shoes to honor" the school, but it would be the "first ones in recent memory to be made available to the public." The "SVSM Home" basketball shoes "feature the school's signature green as an accent along with its mascot name, the Irish, on the front." However, there is "no timetable from Nike of when, or even if," the shoe will ever be released (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/18).

YAHOO SPORTS' Daniel Roberts noted Galaxy and Sweden national team F Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the "global face of Visa's marketing campaign" for the '18 FIFA World Cup. Financial terms of the deal "were not publicly disclosed." In a new Visa promo spot, Ibrahimovic "holds up a jersey on which he has changed the 's' in VISA to a 'z,' and says, 'Zlatanized'" (FINANCE.YAHOO.com, 4/17).

THE GOOD STUFF: In Minneapolis, Jack White noted Minnesota United has signed a 10-year partnership with Bell Bank, which will "provide a $1,000 check to a player each match -- home and away -- next season." The bank, which was also "named a gate sponsor at United's new Allianz Field, gave a $10,000 check" to GK Matt Lampson's LampStrong Foundation as it officially announced the partnership. Each game's "man of the match" will "donate the check of $1,000 to a charity of his choice" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/18).

TEEING OFF: GOLFWEEK's Brentley Romine notes top-ranked amateur Joaquin Niemann will "make his pro debut this week at the Valero Texas Open, and he will do so playing Ping equipment and wearing Adidas apparel and footwear." He will "carry a Ping staff bag" as part of a multiyear agreement, and he is the "first 19-year-old to sign" with Adidas since Sergio Garcia did so in '99. Niemann "will wear Adidas headwear, apparel and footwear" (GOLFWEEK.com, 4/17).

THE TAKEDOWN: Ohio-based wrestling apparel company Rudis signed former Ohio State wrestler Kyle Snyder as an endorser. Rudis President Jesse Leng said Snyder has a "long-term deal" and added that he will "have a clothing and shoe line that launches online in two weeks." Snyder is the "only wrestler to win NCAA, World and Olympic championships as a college athlete" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/17).