Nissan has signed U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka as its next brand ambassador, "tapping the tennis star's youth, drive and Japanese roots to appeal to younger customers," according to Tajitsu & Foster of REUTERS. Osaka attended a contract signing event at Nissan's Yokohama HQ, and the automaker said that she will "appear in global promotions and advertising in its three-year contract." Adding Osaka is something of a "branding departure for a firm whose popular GT-R sports car attracts men aged 40 and older." Usain Bolt promoted the GT-R from '12-16. Nissan joins a "growing number of companies" in Osaka's portfolio, including Adidas, Yonex, Nissin Foods, media company Wowow and Citizen Watch. Having Osaka as a "face of Nissan gives it an edge in appealing to younger drivers as it looks to boost sales of its Leaf all-battery electric car, and promote automated and connected-driving technologies" (REUTERS, 9/12).
ISLAND TAKEOVER: The AP's Wade & Yamaguchi writes Osaka's "mixed-race profile, her appeal in the huge Asian market, and her links to Japan's world-wide brands should drive her long-term earning potential." Tokyo-based Nissin is "launching a new noodle cup to commemorate her victory." A spokesperson for Windsor Corp., which operates tennis shops in Tokyo, said that customers are "asking to buy the same racket that Osaka uses" (AP, 9/13). In Japan, Joel Tansey notes Osaka has been on the cover of "newspapers and magazines across the country, been the subject of TV specials and had every aspect of her life dissected by talk-show personalities." The fervor around Osaka has "rapidly spread across the nation and people involved in the sport are witnessing that firsthand." She has also "appeared on 'Today' and the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show'" (JAPANTIMES.co.jp, 9/13).
The Jaguars "filed an application for the trademark to 'Sacksonville,'" but former LB Dan Skuta has "filed an opposition, saying he came up with the phrase, has been using it for years and the Jaguars have been supporting it," according to Frank Schwab of YAHOO SPORTS. Skuta "played eight NFL seasons," including the '15 and '16 seasons with the Jaguars. Skuta "started using 'Sacksonville' before it got popular last season," when the team became "one of the best defenses in the NFL and it became a popular hashtag on social media." According to the filing, Skuta "started the Instagram account @sacksonville" in July '15. His @DefendDuval Twitter account "uses Sacksonville as its name." Both accounts have a "custom Sacksonville logo," and Skuta "seems to have branded it well." Skuta's complaint said that he "wanted to sell merchandise to benefit his 'sack lunch campaign' to donate school lunches to children in need." Skuta said that the Jags were "aware of his use of 'Sacksonville' and even promoted it." Court documents show that the team tagged Skuta's posts and "liked 'Sacksonville' on its Instagram account." Skuta's problem is that the Jags have "started to sell merchandise with the hashtag #Sacksonville on it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/12). In Jacksonville, Andrew Pantazi notes Skuta "tried to trademark the term" in '15 before his first season with the Jags. However, he "abandoned the application" in the middle of '16. Jags DT Calais Campbell's wife also "filed a trademark application asking for the rights to 'mayor of Sacksonville,'" a title given to Campbell by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. The trademark office said that Campbell's wife "just needed to show that he was associated with the applicant's goods and services" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/13).
Putnam Investments is out as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard sponsor after eight years, declining to renew a contract with the NGB that expired in April. That opens up the mutual fund category for USS. “We are still talking to them. There’s a chance we could do something in the future,” said USS Chief Commercial Officer Dan Barnett. “They know it, but we are speaking to others as well.” Putnam got into the sport with an individual deal with Gold Medal-winning alpine skier Ted Ligety in '09 and enthusiastically activated around the ’14 Sochi Games. Its signage was a common sight at USS events and it had title rights to a freestyle world cup event last January. “Putnam has really enjoyed its partnership with the U.S. Ski team and US Snowboarding, and we’re talking together about the next evolution of our relationship,” Putnam Head of Corporate Communications Jon Goldstein said. Its financial arrangement was not known, but Putnam was at a tier generally believed to be worth roughly $1M annually.
Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt made it clear the school's apparel deal with Under Armour at least partially extends to his life outside of Lubbock. Hocutt yesterday during his weekly radio show on KTTU-FM relayed a story from his time on the CFP selection committee when fellow member Condoleezza Rice invited everyone to play a round of golf at famed course Cypress Point. Hocutt said Rice approached him after he arrived at the course and said, "Kirby ... you cannot wear shorts and play Cypress Point. You need to get back on the bus and go to Pebble Beach and buy yourself a pair of pants.'" Hocutt said, "I went to Pebble Beach -- it's just right down the hill there -- and bought a $300 pair of Adidas pants because they were the only ones in my size. I haven't worn them since, they're still hanging in the closet. I'm not going to wear Adidas" (DOUBLET973.com, 9/12). Texas Tech first signed an apparel deal with Under Armour in '09 and re-upped in '15 to extend the agreement through June '20 (THE DAILY).
In Chicago, Phil Thompson cited Fanatics data as showing that Bears LB Khalil Mack has had the NFL's "top-selling jersey and other gear since Sunday." Mack's new Bears merchandise, which also includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, accessories and other items, had "more sales in the first hour" after his "eye-catching first-half performance against the Packers" than any other player's gear sold for the entire day. Sunday's was Mack's first game since being traded to the Bears on Sept. 1 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/13).
KINGDOM COME: In Denver, Matt Schubert noted Colorado-based Appliance Factory & Mattress Kingdom has "vowed to reimburse any Colorado resident who purchases a qualifying appliance or mattress" between yesterday and Saturday if the Broncos "shut out" the Raiders this Sunday. There is a "minimum purchase of $475 and a maximum of $3,000." If both teams "fail to score a point, then fans will not be reimbursed for their appliance purchase" (DENVERPOST.com, 9/12).
SHOCK THE WORLD: In Kansas, Taylor Eldridge notes '18-19 will be the first season the Wichita State men's basketball team "wears Under Armour after previously wearing Nike." All three of the new uniforms will "feature the player's last names this season," after last season's uniforms "didn't have the player's last names." The other "biggest difference" is the introduction of the "Flying W" logo that "previously only the baseball team has worn." The logo will "appear only on the alternate yellow uniforms, replacing the traditional Shocker logo on the side of the shorts" (WICHITA EAGLE, 9/13).
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