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Volume 6 No. 194

Marketing and Sponsorship

Luxury watchmaker Rolex revealed that "it will become F1's official timekeeper starting with the '13 season," according to Norman Fischer of MOTORSPORT TOTAL. As a result of the deal, the Rolex logo "will appear at all racetracks and at several turns during F1 races." Rolex CEO Gian Riccardo Marini said, "Over the last 50 years both Rolex and Formula 1 have grown into world-leading aspirational brands, and there will be many fantastic opportunities that we can enjoy together." F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone was also delighted about the deal and said, "Without question Rolex is the partner of choice for a world class sporting series like Formula One." Former F1 driver Jackie Steward, who has been working with Rolex for more than 40 years, said, "I am delighted that Rolex, a very unique brand that chooses its relationships very carefully, and Formula One have entered into a partnership." In addition to becoming F1's official timekeeper, Rolex "will also replace Hublot as F1's official timepiece" (MOTORSPORT TOTAL, 12/5). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported South Korean electronics group LG, which "signed a five-year deal in '08 to be the official data processor," has had its "branding on timekeeping systems in recent years" (REUTERS, 12/5).

Chinese Basketball Association players are “continuing to complain about the mandatory call” to wear league partner Li-Ning’s sneakers and “being fined for violations,” according to Sun Xiaocheng of CHINA DAILY. Li-Ning, which has spent $321M in a five-year endorsement with the CBA, "requires all local players to wear its sneakers in games although foreigners can wear other brands, with the logos covered.” Li-Ning has “allowed other brands on court if they pay a fee of $80,200 per player,” which is “five times the price" former CBA sponsor Anta asked for last season. Players have been “complaining about the league's over protection of the sponsor's rights.” Beijing Ducks G Stephon Marbury said, "Every player has his right to wear what shoes are right for his feet to protect his body and well being while playing on the court." Xiaocheng noted Marbury, despite his complaints, “followed the league's order and covered his 361 Degree sneaker's brand with tape" (CHINA DAILY, 12/4).

STIFF COMPETITION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Fiona Law reported Li-Ning has “struggled in the face of competition from foreign rivals such as Nike and adidas, as well as lower-cost local brands.” The company’s shares have “tumbled 86% in Hong Kong from their peak in '10, and are down more than a third since January.” Li-Ning CEO Jin-Goon Kim said, “Five years ago, sportswear brands in China were wholesalers, not retailers. The focus was on growth, as opposed to merchandising and brand DNA and understanding customers. Chinese retailers need to be more focused on brand. Before, you had to be good at opening stores and taking care of channels. Now, it's a different game.” Kim added the company's endorsement deal with NBA Miami Heat G Dwyane Wade "speaks to the most important sports segment for China's younger generation” (WSJ, 12/2).

Sportswear company Warrior Sports has made its first move into Spanish football with a five-year kit deal with top-flight club Sevilla. The agreement will go into effect in July and will allow Warrior to design the official jerseys of the club, as well as the training uniforms for the next five season. Warrior Football Global Sports Marketing Manager Ben Haworth said, "With a presence in La Liga, we have the ability to connect with a new legion of football fans, enabling us to continue fulfilling our pledge to take the Warrior brand further and deeper into the global football market" (Sevilla).

Bundesliga club Bayern Munich has extended its sponsorship deal with German financial institution HypoVereinsbank for another three years" until June 30, 2016 (FC Bayern Munich). ... Sports marketing agency BR Sports has signed Brasileiro Atlético-MG player Bernard to its "portfolio of athletes." The company will be in charge of managing the 20-year-old's image (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 12/4). ... The Emirates Western Force and Rugby Western Australia have renewed their partnership with rugby brand Gilbert for the 2013 Super Rugby season. The new agreement will see Gilbert become the official and exclusive ball and equipment supplier across all representative levels of RugbyWA for the '13 and '14 seasons (RugbyWA). ... National Rugby League club South Sydney Rabbitohs have signed a partnership deal with Capital Training Institute for the '13 season. Capital Training Institute is one of Australia’s fastest emerging registered training organizations specializing in a wide range of vocational education and training (South Sydney Rabbitohs).