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Volume 6 No. 212

Marketing and Sponsorship

Golf's world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has signed a deal with Nike that could earn him $250M and make him the second-highest paid British sportsman behind Major League Soccer L.A. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, according to Malcolm Folley of the London DAILY MAIL. McIlroy has "already earned the first slice by filming a commercial" with world No. 2 Tiger Woods, who "helped broker the deal." Starting in January, the 23-year-old "will replace Woods as the future of Nike's no-money-spared marketing machine." The 10-year contract, which starts at $200M before bonus clauses, rivals Beckham, "who is a leading figure for Nike's rivals adidas and makes roughly $46M annually." Nike "conducted a forensic search" of McIlroy's personal life and found nothing to fear. His romance with tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, a former world No. 1, "only adds to his appeal." News from American sources claimed McIlroy, in the company of Woods, has "shot his first TV advertisement for Nike to broadcast in the new year after the Irishman's current deal with Titleist and Footjoy has expired." The commercial also features two other top golfers who have switched to Nike: Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley (DAILY MAIL, 11/3).

The New Zealand Rugby Union sponsorship deal with insurance group AIG is "understood to be worth" around NZ$80M ($66M), according to Bevan Hurley of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The 5-year deal, worth approximately NZ$15M ($12.4M) a season, was "divulged at a meeting with the All Blacks senior leadership group before being made public without the dollar amounts last month." In New Zealand sports, the agreement is second in value only to the NZRU's contract with adidas. Both AIG and the NZRU are "bound by strict confidentiality clauses" and refused to discuss what the deal was worth. AIG New Zealand CEO Cris Knell said that "age-group and woman's rugby could be the top beneficiaries" of the extra cash flowing through the NZRU's coffers (NZH, 11/4).

Big Bash League Brisbane Heat revealed that it had signed with retailer Betta Home Living to be its major sponsor in the KFC T20 Big Bash League. The company will join principal sponsor Linc Energy as the major backers of the Heat, with both occupying prominent space on the playing and training apparel as well as an at-match presence. Betta Home Living will be making its first sponsorship commitment with cricket. Brisbane Heat Chair Jim Holding said, “It is particularly pleasing to note that our two leading sponsors, Linc Energy and Betta Home Living, are both new to cricket, which is an area where the Big Bash League has provided our sport with new markets and opportunities to work with" (Brisbane Heat).

India's I-League, on paper, "is the equivalent of the EPL or Spain's La Liga," but in reality, "it suffers from a fraction of the frenzy associated with these tournaments," according to Binoy Prabhakar of the ECONOMIC TIMES. The I-League is India's "biggest football contest," featuring 14 of the country's biggest clubs, which this season spent a combined Rs 170 crore ($31.6M) on player salaries. However, those that are not traditional supporters must "look hard to notice the I-League." The league is a "shining example of India still holding out against the magic of football." U.K.-based Editor Nick Harris said that if football is to become mainstream in India, it needs "a national league that is properly funded and properly run over many years." Two years ago, the All India Football Federation signed a 15-year deal with IMG Reliance for Rs 700 crore ($130M). As AIFF's commercial partner, IMG Reliance's mandate is to "radically restructure and promote the game, but progress has been painfully slow." Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay said that there is "no clarity where Indian football is going." Gourlay: "We heard about the agreement AIFF signed with IMG Reliance. There seems to be some confusion because nothing really has happened" (ECONOMIC TIMES, 11/4).

The IOC secured nearly $1B from its worldwide sponsorship program in the four-year cycle ending with the London Games, according to Vanessa Kortekaas of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The number is the highest in the organization's history. Marketing agency Brand Rapport Dir Nigel Currie said that for an event that "does not offer branding on the field of play, this marketing coup was 'unimaginable' just a few years ago." The appeal of sponsoring the Olympics and the way companies activated their campaigns were "partly a reflection of wider changes in the sports sponsorship landscape in recent years." Mainly, the reasons companies sponsor an event, and how they measure their return, has "become more sophisticated." Currie said, "Historically and primarily [sponsorship] has been about brand exposure and media exposure." He added that companies have started to develop other reasons for partnering with an event, "including driving sales or building client relationships." Rights holders, such as teams or sports governing bodies, have also become "more savvy about what they offer sponsors and how they divide up their property." ManU, for example, has "both a main team sponsor and a reserve team sponsor." Currie said, "It’s a realisation that the premiership has become so big and so popular, and such a global property that you’re now getting certain clubs thinking, well actually we don’t want to just give it all to one brand or one sponsor" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/1).

The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee revealed that Chinese company Tencent has become the latest tier one sponsor in the category of Internet services. The company already has a strong influence among young fan bases in China and aims to leverage on these audiences to help support and promote the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. As an Internet service partner, Tencent will develop the official Nanjing 2014 website (Nanjing 2014). ... German 2nd Bundesliga club 1860 Munich "will have to look for another shirt sponsor as its current sponsor British car company Aston Martin will end its sponsorship deal with the club at the end of the season." Club President Dieter Schneider said, "It is a fair move by Aston Martin to inform us early that it will end its current sponsorship deal. This provides us with enough time to find a new title sponsorship deal before the start of the next season" (SID, 11/2).