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Volume 26 No. 201

Marketing and Sponsorship

A-B InBev's Bon & Viv brand is now the official hard seltzer of the NFL
Photo: A-B INBEV
A-B InBev's Bon & Viv brand is now the official hard seltzer of the NFL
Photo: A-B INBEV
A-B InBev's Bon & Viv brand is now the official hard seltzer of the NFL
Photo: A-B INBEV

NFL corporate sponsors are finalizing activation plans with the season now just a week away. Beginning with next Thursday’s Packers-Bears season opener at Soldier Field, 37 corporate sponsors will be activating in support of 50 brands. Those brands will combine for a total of 64 football themed TV spots, an increase of 35 additional spots, NFL Senior VP/Sponsorship Management Tracie Rodburg said. There will also be more than 109 digital spots from NFL sponsors (17 from A-B InBev alone), and the TV and digital ads will employ more than 100 active and retired NFLers. A-B, one of the NFL’s most active sponsors, is expanding its NFL portfolio with its Bon & Viv brand (now the league’s official hard seltzer) in the rapidly expanding spiked seltzer category. A-B Head of U.S. Marketing Nick Kelly said his company is selling Bon & Viv at many of the 28 team venues where it has sponsorships, creating team themed cocktails using Bon & Viv, and leveraging those with on premise events. LED signage and sampling opportunities will support the sponsorship at NFL stadiums. “In spiked seltzer, we are a challenger brand (behind Mike’s Hard Lemonade, White Claw and Boston Beer’s Truly brand), so this is all about driving trial,’’ Kelly said. A-B will also be using its newfound group player rights to support Bud Light across the country with groups of players in point-of-sale and out-of-home advertising.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NFL: Many other sponsors are activating around the NFL’s kickoff.

  • Campbell’s will continue its “Mama’s Boy” campaign, with TV ads including Giants RB Saquon Barkley and his mother; and others with Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and his brothers.
  • Visa will debut an NFL 100 themed ad about generational fandom.
  • Verizon will rely on the power of the NFL to help with its 5G rollout, with activations in 12 stadiums.
  • New sponsor Lowe’s has two national TV ads and will sell some NFL licensed products in store and online.
  • Gatorade, the league’s oldest corporate sponsor, has spots with Rams RB Todd Gurley and Texans DE J.J. Watt planned.
  • P&G is using the NFL to push its Tide, Gillette, Old Spice and Head & Shoulders brands; former NFLer Troy Polamalu and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who ranked as the NFL's second most marketable player, have filmed a spot for the shampoo.
  • Many sponsors will support the NFL’s 100th season platform, including Courtyard by Marriott, Campbell’s, Pepsi, A-B and other consumer packaged goods sponsors.

Knicks F RJ Barrett has signed a "multiyear footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma," according to Nick DePaula of ESPN.com. Barrett during his lone year at Duke "emerged as a top target for the brand, with executives strongly believing that he'll become the best player from his draft class." Puma also was "drawn to the appeal of the New York marketplace." It was the "first company to present their endorsement offer and future plans to Barrett," who wore Puma shoes both during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and during his "rookie photo shoot just weeks ago." Barrett will be one of just 15 NBA endorsers for Puma, giving him the chance to have "more personalized marketing and attention." That was on display yesterday when Puma formally announced the deal in N.Y. with a mural repurposing the "classic 'I Love NY' slogan ... painted along 31st Street." The sign read "NY ❤ RJ" and later included a "Puma cat logo atop the heart, alongside the 19-year-old's face" (ESPN.com, 8/28).

CAT FANCY: CNBC.com's Lauren Thomas reported Puma today opened a flagship store on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, a "massive 18,000-square-foot space, spanning two levels." This marks Puma's first brick-and-mortar location in N.Y. and the "first of its kind in North America." The store will feature Puma's "full breadth of assortment including basketball items, golf gear, motorsport merchandise, kids, lifestyle and soccer." Some items will be "only available" at the N.Y. store. There will be a "few interactive elements, including an F1 racing experience" and a TV wall where "shoppers can hang out and play NBA2K" (CNBC.com, 8/28).

Pro streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Adidas have agreed to a "'muilt-year' partnership," according to H.B. Duran of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. Neither Adidas nor Blevins "revealed details surrounding the partnership other than a tagline of 'Time In.'" A dedicated microsite has been "created that allows consumers to sign up for email alerts, although no specific merchandise has been revealed as of this writing" (ESPORTSOBSERVER.com, 8/28). ENGADGET's Edgar Alvarez noted Blevins had been seen "wearing Adidas outfits recently at different events, but not much was made of it until he teased a major reveal on his Twitter account, which featured a trippy video with an Adidas font on it." Adidas does currently "sponsor various professional esports teams," but the deal with Blevins is "significant because of the individual aspect of it." This announcement comes only a few weeks after Blevins "ditched Amazon's Twitch streaming service for Microsoft's Mixer" (ENGADGET.com, 8/27).

BEEN HERE BEFORE: THE VERGE's Jay Peters noted apparel companies signing deals with gaming stars is a "relatively new phenomenon," though Blevins' partnership with Adidas is "far from" his first with a brand. He has "long partnered with Samsung." Blevins also "makes money from a number of other deals, including a long-running Red Bull sponsorship, YouTube ads, and he gets paid to play certain games," including a reported $1M for playing EA’s Apex Legends at its launch earlier this year (THEVERGE.com, 8/27).

TWITTER REAX: Twitter Head of Gaming Content Partnerships Rishi Chadha: "This is a big move for Adidas & the gaming industry at large, and I'm excited to see more sportswear brands jump into gaming & esports with partnerships like this and more." Bidstack CMO Simon Gosling: "@Nike has @Cristiano @adidas has @OfficialRunDMC. Whilst Nike is Performance and athletes, Adidas is Street and cultural icons. No surprise Adidas signed Ninja. Esports are more their thing." Esports logo designer Owen Roe: "Ninja has proven himself to be the absolute gold standard for how sponsorship activations should be done. This Adidas partnership is huge." Complex Associate Editor Matthew Welty: "I totally understand why Adidas would sign someone like Ninja, but I always assumed that the majority of people play video games without sneakers on their feet."

Wentz is an avid outdoorsman, and his Amazon store features plenty of hunting gear
Photo: AMAZON
Wentz is an avid outdoorsman, and his Amazon store features plenty of hunting gear
Photo: AMAZON
Wentz is an avid outdoorsman, and his Amazon store features plenty of hunting gear
Photo: AMAZON

Eagles QB Carson Wentz is the "latest athlete to launch a branded online Amazon store," and his storefront is a "hunter's paradise," according to Rob Tornoe of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Wentz, an avid outdoorsman, has his shop "filled with everything from a fake buck archery target ... to a case of beef strips that appears to have customers divided." A promo video shows Wentz "decked out head-to-toe in hunting gear." Wentz joins Phillies RF Bryce Harper as Philadelphia-area athletes to have an Amazon store, though Harper in his is "pushing Rawlings gear and Under Armour apparel." The pages for both Wentz and Harper are "part of a larger celebrity storefront the tech platform launched late last year, populated by actors, musicians, and personalities." Serena Williams, Cam Newton and Dwyane Wade are among other athletes to have their own Amazon stores (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/27).

Reaction continues to come in regarding Tom Brady topping THE DAILY's NFL Most Marketable Player survey, with Fox Sports Radio's Christian Arcand saying Brady's spot at No. 1 on the list shows a "real lack of marketable talent" in the NFL. While Brady and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes occupying the top two spots "makes sense," Brady being ahead of the reigning MVP is "not a great thing for the league" because he is 42 years old. Arcand: "He's not going to play that much longer." Fox Sports Radio's Adam Jones noted a list of the most marketable MLB players a few years ago would have included Derek Jeter and David Ortiz, which "ended up being very poor foreshadowing for that sport." Jones: "Not a great sign when a 42-year-old is the 'Most Marketable' in your league, because how much longer could you possibly expect for that to be the case?" ("The Adam Jones Show," Fox Sports Radio, 8/28). However, FS1’s Nick Wright said it "wouldn’t make sense for anyone else to be at the top of this list” other than Brady (“First Things First,” FS1, 8/29). Boston-based WEEI-FM's Dale Arnold noted Brady has a number of endorsement deals, but he is "not taking on every single thing." Meanwhile, despite Brady only joining Twitter earlier this year, he has "become this social media butterfly and is all over social media, using it extensively" ("Dale and Keefe," WEEI-FM, 8/28).

TOO BLAND TO BE NO. 1? FS1’s Shannon Sharpe wondered what there is "not to like if you just look" at Brady. Sharpe: "I could see if he had poor teeth, but he's married to a super model. He seems likable. He's very measured in his words. He never speaks out of turn. He's always speaking positive. We like that.” FS1's Skip Bayless: "What has he ever done wrong except some people thought he illegally deflated footballs?” ("Undisputed," FS1, 8/29). But Fox Sports Radio's Rob Parker said there is "no way, no how" that Brady is the most marketable player in the league, in part because he "says nothing." Parker: "He's a boring Captain Obvious quote." He added Brady is not on top of the list because of his "personality or because people are hanging on his every word." Rather, it "just has to do" with the Patriots' on-field success. Fox Sports Radio's Chris Broussard pointed out Brady's endorsement portfolio is extensive and includes "some of the biggest companies in the world." But Parker rebutted by calling Brady "milquetoast" and said he "doesn't move the needle." Parker: "He might be the dullest athlete we've ever had." Broussard responded, "I'm not saying he's the hippest, but the dude is marketable and the endorsement deals prove it. And on top of that, he wins" ("The Odd Couple," Fox Sports Radio, 8/28).

TOO MUCH, TOO SOON? FS1's Bayless said he was "stunned" and "offended" that Brady only barely edged out Mahomes in the rankings. He said while Mahomes seems like a really good kid, he doesn't say a whole lot, he’s not a big force on social media." Bayless: "He's vaulted off that all the way to second to marketability in the league? It's just wrong. ... Can Patrick Mahomes live up to this? His marketability is being overmarketed while Brady's is being undermarketed." Sharpe added, “I'm a little surprised that Mahomes is this high. ... He doesn't have that voice, that powerful pitch. I'm surprised he finished that high” (“Undisputed,” FS1, 8/29).

BATTLE OF THE YOUNG GUNS: ESPN’s Max Kellerman noted Mahomes is the player best suited to succeed Brady atop the most marketable list, saying, “Put your money on the blue chipper." Kellerman: "Whoever you think is going to be the best, is in the most successful situation, and just performs at a high level, that's the one who will eventually be the superstar. That beats personality and everything, success." He added, "There is no one better to watch than Patrick Mahomes. When you have the superstar flash to go with the substance on the field, then it really is going to come down to your success over time.” However, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith promoted Browns QB Baker Mayfield chances, saying, “This dude does not shut up. He's as real as it gets. He's going to have something to say." Smith: "When we think about Patrick Mahomes, you know when we're going to talk about Patrick Mahomes? The day before the game and the day after. When are you going to talk about Baker Mayfield? All week long." He added Mayfield, who came in fourth on the list, is "risqué” (“First Take,” ESPN, 8/29).

SMITH-SCHUSTER SHOCKER: WEEI's Greg Hill said of Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster making the top 10 of the survey -- he finished tied with Texans DE J.J. Watt at No. 7, was "interesting." He said it was "curious" that Raiders WR Antonio Brown "isn't there but JuJu Smith-Schuster, who takes over as the No. 1 wide receiver for the Steelers, is in the top 10" ("The Greg Hill Show," WEEI-FM, 8/28). WEEI's Arnold said Smith-Schuster's inclusion on the list was the "biggest surprise" for him. WEEI's Rich Keefe: "He's a good social media guy ... and he's also a big personality, and you see him getting into it ... on Twitter with different guys" ("Dale & Keefe," WEEI, 8/28). Smith-Schuster's appeal to marketers was on display earlier today, as video game accessory maker HyperX renewed his endorsement deal with the company.

In K.C., Pete Grathoff notes locally-based CommunityAmerica Credit Union aligning with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has "proved to be a good business decision." The credit union said that it "saw a boost from last year's commercial" with Mahomes, "surpassing the company's target goal for new checking account customers" by 16%. A new commercial with Mahomes, who finished second in THE DAILY's list of the most marketable NFLers, began airing earlier this month. The spot, called "A New Day," shows Mahomes "addressing his teammates, while cutting to scenes of big life events, such as a couple moving into a home, a woman opening a coffee shop and a man beginning retirement" (K.C. STAR, 8/29).

NEW DIGS: Browns QB Baker Mayfield and his wife, Emily, star in a new "series of vignettes called 'At Home With Baker Mayfield,'" set with FirstEnergy Stadium as the couple's home, as part of his new deal with Progressive. Two spots have been released so far. In the first, the Mayfields "struggle with something that flummoxes just about every home buyer: the poorly labeled breaker box." In the second spot, Baker Mayfield is shown "preparing for the intimidating task of trimming his new lawn with a reluctant mower" (ADWEEK.com, 8/28). Mayfield, who finished fourth in THE DAILY's survey, said that his wife was "reluctant at first but then agreed to film the 20 commercials" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/29).

SKOL BOWLS: The AP's Barry Wilner notes Vikings WR Adam Thielen, through a partnership with Hormel Foods, will be "hosting 'Thursdays With Thielen.'" The partnership is a "chili-fest across the nation" focused on the cuisine of cities whose teams are playing in the "TNF" game. In the series, Thielen will sample "unique chili recipes created by notable chefs." It starts with the Sept. 5 Packers-Bears game. Thielen's campaign also will "have a charitable tie-in." Hormel will "donate a yard of chili -- equivalent to eight 15-ounce cans -- to Second Harvest Heartland in the Twin Cities for every yard Thielen gains on the field" (AP, 8/29).