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Volume 25 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

Fanatics has signed a deal "granting it wide-ranging merchandising rights for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, the second-largest global esports property," according to Fischer & Lefton of SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal makes Fanatics "master licensee and worldwide retailer" for the OWL. Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues CRO Brandon Snow said of Fanatics, "What they really do is allow us to scale this on a global basis quite quickly, to get fan gear to all our teams around the world." Fischer & Lefton note Fanatics’ rights "include manufacturing and distribution across wholesale and retail for e-commerce and brick-and-mortar locations." Notably, it "excludes South Korea and China, the most developed esports markets that are home to five OWL teams, though Fanatics could acquire those rights in a later deal." Previously, licensing and merchandising was "handled in-house by Activision Blizzard." A Fanatics-run dedicated site, shop.overwatchleague.com, is "slated to be operating by mid-January, with around 20 SKUs for each of the league’s teams, a number that’s expected to double before the end of the season next summer." OWL merchandise also "will be available on Fanatics.com early next year" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/3 issue).

Woods has used a black Monster Energy water bottle during rounds dating back to '16
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tiger Woods recently extended his "multi-year endorsement deal with Monster Energy and is in talks for a licensing deal to produce his own drink," according to Dan Kilbridge of GOLFWEEK. Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, said, "There's been talk about potential of a licensed deal with Tiger and Monster. What that looks like and tastes like, we haven't flushed that out yet, but we're at least in discussions about it now." Kilbridge noted the two sides are trying to "get something done 'in the next few months,' for a Woods-licensed drink, one which he would have serious influence on from a flavor and concept perspective." Woods debuted the Monster logo on his golf bag during the '16 Hero World Challenge, and it has stayed on the bag "over the past two years, as well as the black water bottle he uses during competition." Additionally, caddie Joe LaCava "often wears polo shirts with the Monster Energy logo on the sleeve" (GOLFWEEK.com, 12/2). Gatorade launched a Woods-branded flavor in '08 as part of its endorsement deal with him. The drink was dropped in the aftermath of his '09 sex scandal, though Gatorade claims it made the decision to cease production prior to the scandal breaking (THE DAILY).

Arris has been in talks to sponsor a sizable chunk of Suarez’ season next year
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Arris is expected to leave Joe Gibbs Racing this offseason and is in talks to follow driver Daniel Suarez to Stewart-Haas Racing, according to sources. The global telecommunications equipment company has sponsored JGR’s No. 19 in the Cup Series since ’15, and it also sponsored Suarez in the Xfinity Series before he graduated to Cup to replace Carl Edwards in ’17. The company’s precise spend was unclear but was likely around low eight figures annually. Suarez’ tenure with JGR ended this season -- he is being replaced next season by Martin Truex Jr. -- and sources said Arris is expected to leave the team as well in order to continue backing the Mexican driver. Arris' deal did not expire this year; it was unclear whether JGR was agreeing to release the company early or whether Arris will buy itself out. Suarez has not yet been confirmed to be joining SHR but his management team has been in advanced talks with the team. It was not known whether a deal with Arris had been officially signed yet, and it is possible the negotiations could end without a deal. But the company has been in talks to sponsor a sizable chunk of Suarez’ season next year. Moreover, Mexico-based businessman Carlos Slim Domit, who backs Suarez, was at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month, as were several Arris execs and an exec from CommScope, which recently acquired Arris for $7.4B. An Arris spokesperson said that it is not yet clear whether Arris will remain a separate brand or fold into CommScope as part of the acquisition, but the spokesperson declined all comment on its possible move in NASCAR. JGR has not commented.

STAYING LOYAL: Domit last month told the AP that he will continue to back Suarez next year, and Arris is a major vendor to the telecommunications company that Domit helps oversees, a B2B relationship that further reinforces the expectation that Arris will continue backing Suarez next year. The company had considered a full exit from NASCAR after it became clear that Suarez was being ousted in early September, but it appears that Domit has been able to get Arris to consider reversing that decision. Whether Arris’ spend on NASCAR will be reduced or continue at the same rate was unclear. Arris, which also has become a vendor to NASCAR and its teams, works with MKTG on its motorsports marketing.

Pepsi gets nearly double the amount of men's hoops tickets that Coca-Cola did under their previous deal
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Pepsi gained "more football and basketball tickets" than Coca-Cola had when the Univ. of Kansas switched its campus-wide soft drink partnership in July '17, though Pepsi "gained fewer Late Night in the Phog tickets," according to Asbury & Shaw of KU student newspaper the UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN. Coca-Cola got 20 football season tickets, though Pepsi now gets a total of 120 tickets -- 10 "season club experience tickets, 10 season tickets between the 40-yard lines, 50 single-game tickets and 50 tickets for a football game against in-state rival Kansas State played at Memorial Stadium." Coca-Cola also received 20 men's basketball tickets, while Pepsi gets nearly double that. Pepsi has "four lower level tier-one season tickets, eight tier-two season tickets, four general admission season tickets, 10 general admission tickets to the K-State game and 12 single game general admission tickets upon request two weeks following the release of the schedule." KU Associate AD/Public Affairs Jim Marchiony indicated that Pepsi has "acquired $18,580 worth in tickets." Ten women's basketball season tickets were directed to Coca-Cola, but Pepsi "did not have any negotiations in the contract specifically" for that sport. Marchiony said that the ticket agreement "was handled through the University's negotiations, not through Athletics" (UNIVERSITY DAILY KANSAN, 12/3).

Photo: MILB

Minor League Baseball has a signed a sponsorship agreement with organic meat provider Applegate Farms LLC. The New Jersey-based company, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods, will become the official natural and organic meat of MiLB, opening up a new sponsorship category for the affiliated minors. Financial terms were not disclosed. Activations will include signage at many MiLB parks, availability of Applegate’s “The Cleaner Weiner” natural hot dogs at select facilities, a series of team-level deals to add to the national-level pact and exposure on various MiLB media extensions, including the in-stadium digital signage effort created last year with ISM Connect. The deal continues a run of recent activity for MiLB that also includes a recent deal with outdoor power tool company Echo to sponsor the Hispanic outreach program, Copa de la Diversión. Other food sponsorships for MiLB include Bush’s Beans and Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips.

AD AGE chose Nike as its '18 "Marketer of the Year" for its Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. Depending on "who you asked, Nike was either a crusader for social justice or an unpatriotic agitator making a hero out of the man who started the movement of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a means to bring attention to racial inequities." Either way, Nike "ended up right where it needs to be: in the middle of a debate that drew attention, admiration and -- most importantly -- sales from the urban millennials it needs to keep the swoosh strong" (ADAGE.com, 12/3).

ON ISLAND TIME: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis noted the Hawaii Bowl has "ended a four-year absence without a title sponsor for its postseason college football game by becoming the SoFi Hawaii Bowl." Hawaii Bowl Exec Dir Daryl Garvinhe said that the title sponsorship agreement with the S.F.-based online personal finance company is "for two years," but he "declined to say how much the sponsorship was worth." It is the "third title sponsorship in the bowl’s 17-years of operation." ConAgra Foods was the "original title sponsor" in '02 and was "replaced by Sheraton Hotels" from '03-13 (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 12/1).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted the Facebook Portal “empty nest” ad featuring Fox’ Howie Long and his family that aired during Saints-Cowboys on Thursday "took three shoots in three different cities (Philadelphia, Chicago, Scottsdale) to get the commercial done." Two of Long’s sons "currently play" in the NFL: Chris Long with the Eagles and Kyle with the Bears. It is "nice to see" Fox execs "helping an advertiser by partnering them up with their talent" (N.Y DAILY NEWS, 12/2).