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Volume 26 No. 45

Marketing and Sponsorship

New Balance was drawn to Leonard's reserved and even-keeled nature
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

New Balance has seen the benefits of its deal with Raptors F Kawhi Leonard during the team's NBA Finals run, but a New Balance official said that the brand does not "plan on rushing into new deals with additional NBA players anytime soon," according to Alicja Siekierska of YAHOO FINANCE. New Balance Global Dir of Consumer Marketing Patrick Cassidy said, "We will probably have at most five or 10 athletes over the next several years. But we want them to be athletes who are cut from a different cloth, who have that independent spirit and who want to follow their own blueprint." Siekierska noted in an NBA "full of loud and often outspoken personalities, Leonard is reserved and even-keeled, preferring to let his basketball prowess do the talking," which "appealed to New Balance." The first New Balance ad featuring Leonard, rolled out during All-Star Weekend, "emphasized Leonard's skills." Since that point, and "particularly throughout" the Raptors playoff run, New Balance has been "launching new products and unveiled splashy advertising in both Toronto and Oakland." One example was a "billboard above Toronto's Eaton Centre mall that showed a stern-looking Leonard with his arms crossed beside the caption 'fun guy.'" New Balance "ended up taking that moment and issuing a limited release of a 'Fun Guy' t-shirt, which sold out in select stores and online in mere minutes" (FINANCE.YAHOO.com, 6/7).

MAKING YOUR ONE SHOT COUNT: ESPN's Steve Coughlin while watching highlights of Leonard wondered, "Has anyone ever been this good whose worn New Balance?" Coughlin: "I was just asking, I've never seen them before." ESPN's Scott Van Pelt replied, "He's their one guy" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/7).

The Raptors have reached the 3-point threshold in 54 games total including the regular season and playoffs
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

McDonald's is "out more than two million medium size orders of french fries," nearly "three times the 700,000 orders the company projected" after negotiating a sponsorship deal with the Raptors to give away free french fries in Ontario every time the team made 12 3-pointers, according to Jake Edmiston of the FINANCIAL POST. The deal was struck just 18 days before the team acquired F Kawhi Leonard. McDonald's Senior Marketing Manager-Eastern Canada Chuck Coolen said that they "based the forecast model, in part, on a previous fry giveaway program" with the Canadiens, figuring the Raptors were "likely to hit at least 12 three-pointers in about half of the 82 games in the regular season." But the 3-point threshold was "reached 44 times in the regular season and another 10 -- so far -- in a much longer playoff run," equaling "two million free orders -- at an average menu price of $2.89" -- for a total of C$5.8M worth of fries. Ontario McDonald's owner Mike Forman said that the upside of the deal is it "attracts customers, who have to download and use the McDonald’s app to redeem their fries, which are only available the day after a Raptors game" (FINANCIALPOST.com, 6/7). In DC, Matt Bonesteel wrote under the header, "Thanks To The Raptors, Ontario Is Awash In Free McDonald's Fries." Bonesteel: "It seemed like a good idea at the time" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/7).

Phil Mickelson will remain in his role as an official ambassador of the tournament next year
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

PGA Tour Desert Classic Tournament Exec Dir Jeff Sanders is "convinced the event won't have a second unsponsored year in a row," but he "can't say when a new sponsorship deal will be signed," according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. The event has been "without a title sponsor since CareerBuilder withdrew its name from the tournament last November." Sanders said, "I'm bullish on the outcome here. Conversations are going on. We will have a sponsor, a great sponsor, for 2020." Sanders "feels the tournament is attractive to potential sponsors" with the pro-am experience, the golf courses used and the "traditionally strong weather for the tournament in January." Sanders: "This is a long-term commitment, a multi-year commitment, to be determined in years, but it is going to be multiple years. To find the right sponsor that really wants to embrace this tournament, make it great into the future, it takes time.” Sanders added that Phil Mickelson, who has been the tournament’s official ambassador for the last three years, will "remain in that role" for '20 and will again play in the tournament (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 6/10).