The NFL is "rolling out new guidelines for its alcohol sponsorship policy, easing restrictions on the use of team and player likeness in ads for beer, distilled spirits and wine," according to Mark Burns of MORNINGCONSULT.com. The league announced the new policy Tuesday via an email sent to team presidents, marketing and sponsorship executives and counsel. The email said that beer brands who partner with teams "will be able to use images of players to market their products," which includes A-B InBev's Bud Light -- the NFL's official category sponsor -- as well as "other brands who have existing team relationships or wish to seek one." Under the new guidelines, only active players "can be used; creative materials cannot imply that players are endorsing the product; and if brands want to use more than one player's likeness, they have to use a minimum of six." This new policy is in effect for the upcoming season, and sources said that it is a "multi-year test that will be re-evaluated annually." A source said that teams also will be "permitted to form partnerships with makers of distilled spirits that allow the brands to bill themselves as the 'official' product for those clubs." The source added that wine companies can also "have a similar relationship with teams." For the "first time, liquor brands will be able to use team logos" on their materials, "including primary and secondary packaging, albeit with some restrictions" (MORNINGCONSULT.com, 5/29).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The Raptors are rolling out a series of sponsor activations ahead of their first NBA Finals appearance tonight. Among the notable promotions is a new digital/social Finals campaign rolled out by McDonald’s this morning, which sees the company creating a new temporary logo that takes out the gold -- the Warriors' primary color -- and turns their famous golden arches white. Meanwhile, Air Canada will fly 14 fans to Oakland for Game 4, after the company had pilots and flight attendants toss T-shirts to fans in Jurassic Park as part of a promotion after the Raptors won Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Within some of the shirts were boarding passes for fans to travel to California to watch Game 4. Coors Light also is offering fans a viewing experience in Jurassic Park on top of the mobile Coors Light Mountain that is in Maple Leaf Square next to Scotiabank Arena. Tim Hortons will have Raptors' branded donuts available at Toronto locations throughout the Finals, while a Tim Hortons coffee truck will be serving fans in Jurassic Park throughout the Finals.
The Clippers are said to have "quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights" to Raptors F Kawhi Leonard's "Klaw" logo that is still owned by Nike, according to Marc Stein of the N.Y. TIMES. Such an acquisition would "theoretically enable them to bestow full control of the logo upon Leonard as part of their anticipated free-agency pitch meeting" with him this offseason. However, Nike is "intent on rebuffing all approaches and retaining its rights to that logo for as long as it can -- to assure that it would not appear on gear made by Leonard's new contract partners at New Balance." What makes the Clippers' possible maneuver noteworthy, is the fact that sources who passed along the information "found it completely normal -- natural, even -- for the Clippers to consider hatching such a scheme" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/30).
DOING HIS OWN THING: THE RINGER's Brian Phillips wrote Leonard is the "basketball star for everyone who missed out on an invitation to life's red carpet." During the Raptors-Bucks Eastern Conference Finals, Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo was seen as a "natural face for the league: telegenic, charismatic, at ease in his own skin, a player people loved to talk about." Leonard, by contrast, had a "kind of unreadable contrariness, a quality of being somewhere else even when he was standing right in front of you." From a "marketing standpoint, he was a nightmare." He "did his own thing without seeming to care whether it rubbed anyone, or everyone, the wrong way." He had "no evident interest in crafting a narrative or explaining himself" (THERINGER.com, 5/30).
Chipotle Mexican Grill is "trying not-so-subtly to connect its brand to the NBA Finals through ambush marketing," while Taco Bell returns as an "official sponsor with its own promotional plans," according to Jessica Wohl of AD AGE. Chipotle will run a promotion where "each time an announcer says 'free' during the main TV broadcast," it will "disclose codes on Twitter that are good for chances to score free burritos." However, since Taco Bell is the "chain with official ties to the NBA, Chipotle had to be somewhat clever about the way it worded its offer." Rather than "saying NBA Finals in its press release, Chipotle used phrases such as 'the official coverage of the men's professional basketball championship series.'" Chipotle's offer is "only valid for the first 20 times the word 'free' is uttered by the announcers during each game, with up to 500 giveaways for each utterance in the first half and up to 1,000 giveaways each time it's said in the second half." Chipotle is working with Day One Agency, N.Y., on the promotion. Meanwhile, Taco Bell's official NBA partnership is "entering its ninth year." The chain is "back with its 'Steal A Game, Steal A Taco' offer for the fourth consecutive year," where if a "road team wins a game, fans win free Doritos Locos Tacos" (ADAGE.com, 5/29).
U.S. Soccer and Visa have signed a five-year deal that will provide increased investment around both the USMNT and USWNT. The deal was facilitated by SUM and fills a category that had been vacant for U.S. Soccer. The payment tech brand will launch a U.S.-based marketing campaign focused on the USWNT ahead of next month's FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. A new ad focuses on USWNT stars Mallory Pugh, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Jessica McDonald, Abby Dahlkemper and Adrianna Franch. Visa also will become presenting partner of the SheBelieves Cup -- a four-team women’s international event that started in ’15 and is played in the U.S. The brand earlier this month launched a new global campaign dubbed “One Moment,” which concentrates on female empowerment and acceptance. That effort features a series of short personal documentaries around Visa ambassadors Lucy Bronze (Great Britain), Kim Little (Scotland) and Nadia Nadim (Denmark) (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). FORBES' Robert Kidd reports while Visa is not disclosing financial terms of the deal, it is ensuring that "'at least 50%' of the investment would fund the USWNT and women's soccer programs." Visa also announced that USWNT F Megan Rapinoe has signed as an endorser for the company and that it will be the "first brand partner of the Player of the Match" at the Women's World Cup (FORBES.com, 5/30).
DREAM MACHINE: ADWEEK's David Cohen reported Nike last Friday promoted the USWNT by "displaying their names, photos and game highlights" on 16 screens throughout Times Square. The team was in town for a match on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, and all 23 team members "arrived in Times Square via a double-decker bus branded with Nike's 'Dream With US' message." Nike "shared social assets" of the visit on its @NikeNYC Twitter handle. The company prior to last Friday also "took over billboards" in other parts of N.Y. and other cities across the country (ADWEEK.com, 5/29).
In Birmingham, Sam Blum noted Auburn F Danjel Purifoy's mother, Waukesha Blevins, has "posted on Facebook multiple times about selling T-shirts with Purifoy's image," in which he is "wearing an Auburn jersey." Blevins' post on May 16 read, "This is the picture that's going to be on the shirts with (Home Town Hero) on the back so if you would like to place an order please do so at this time." There were then "several follow-up posts relating to the T-shirts," all of which "refer to collecting T-shirt money" (AL.com, 5/28).
KIND OF A BAG DEAL: GOLF.com's Jonathan Wall noted golfer Harold Varner III has signed a "metalwoods, putter and staff bag deal with Callaway Golf." He was recently "seen at the PGA Championship with the brand's staff bag" and other equipment. Varner will "continue to wear Jordan Brand apparel," which he has done since the beginning of '18. The move is an "intriguing one for Callaway, who has historically signed players to full staff deals" (GOLF.com, 5/28).
ONE-STOP SHOP: Walmart will be "selling jerseys for the 10 teams in the League of Legends Championship Series" through the retailer's online LCS Fan Shop. Walmart recently "began selling esports merchandise from We Are Nations, which serves as the merchandise partner for the LCS." This announcement comes after Walmart said last year that "five of its stores will host Esports Arena venues" (ESPORTSOBSERVER.com, 5/29).