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Volume 10 No. 24

Marketing and Sponsorship

Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa "lost his major sponsor" when electronics manufacturer Panasonic announced it would not renew a deal with him next month, according to the AFP. Panasonic, forecast to "book a mammoth $9.6B net loss in the current fiscal year in the process of overhauling its business, also said it would stop sponsoring a domestic golf tournament after next year." In a statement the company said, "Our company has supported golfer Ishikawa for five years with the aim of backing young people in their global challenges." Ishikawa signed a five-year sponsorship deal with the company in Jan. '08. The value of the deal was estimated at 500M yen ($6M). The company also said that it would end sponsorship of the Panasonic Open after its sixth annual edition next September as the company is "undertaking various streamlining efforts" to rebuild its business. Panasonic has also "stopped bankrolling" women's badminton and men's basketball teams (AFP, 12/13).

Oakley has "sued golfer Rory McIlroy and Nike, saying they breached the world's top-ranked golfer's existing contract" when he signed with Nike, according to Lester Munson of ESPN. A lawsuit filed Dec. 10 in federal court in the U.S. alleged that Oakley "tried to use its 'right of first refusal' to match the Nike offer, but McIlroy and his agent, Conor Ridge, ignored the counteroffer, thereby breaching the Oakley-McIlroy contract." Oakley claims in its lawsuit that its "contractual rights for McIlroy's endorsements of its eyewear and performance apparel would be 30% of the Nike package." If reports of a $200M deal with Nike "are accurate, then Oakley offered about $60M to continue its deal with McIlroy." The key to any resolution of the dispute is "in a string of emails between Oakley and Ridge that began in September." As negotiations for a renewal of the Oakley deal seemed to be "falling apart," Oakley VP/Global Sports Marketing Patrick McIlvain "sent an email to Ridge." The email read, "Understood. We are out of the mix. No contract for 2013. Pat Mac." Ridge's Horizon Sports Management called the lawsuit "baseless," and said the golfer "has fulfilled all of his obligations to Oakley." McIlroy and Nike will "assert in court that McIlvain's email was a waiver of Oakley's contractual rights to renew with McIlroy." But McIlroy's agents and lawyers, after the supposed waiver, then "continued to bargain with Oakley and gave it the dollar amounts that Oakley would be required to match" (ESPN, 12/14).

With less than 100 days to go before the London Games, Coca-Cola VP of Global Partnerships and Experiential Marketing Scott McCune set a lofty goal for the company’s Olympic marketing program. McCune said, “Our benchmark is that our annual report for 2010 said that the FIFA World Cup drove our business in the second and third quarter. I would love for our 2012 annual report to say the Olympic Games drove our business.” The annual report won’t be released until next month, but results from this summer suggest the Olympics will be mentioned. Marketing around the London Games helped boost Coca-Cola’s case volume worldwide and reduced the company’s promotional expenses by more than $30M in the third quarter. The results came on the heels of the company’s largest, single marketing program around an Olympic Games. Coke, which spends $100M every four years to sponsor the IOC’s The Olympic Partner program, had 110 markets use its multiplatform “Move to the Beat” campaign featuring British producer Mark Ronson, who made a song from the sounds of Olympians training. The participation of 110 markets nearly doubled the 60 markets that activated around the 2008 Beijing Games.

INCREASING GLOBAL VOLUME: Coca-Cola also credited the Olympics with increasing case volume 5% in Latin America, 2% in North America and 1% in Europe. Those increases came despite uncertainty in the European and global economy. Markets that activated heavily such as Mexico, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, China and Japan saw significant increases in volume. McCune: “Volume was up in the markets activating, and it was up more in the markets activating than the ones that didn’t. We also look at consumer metrics. Do we move people in Brazil from being monthly drinkers to weekly drinkers? Do we move weekly drinkers to daily drinkers? All of those were moving that direction, especially in emerging markets” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

German second-tier hockey club Heilbronner Falken "has found a replacement for its insolvent sponsor Gaukel," according to Stephan Sonntag of STIMME. On Friday evening, fans "were surprised when they saw 'City of Arabia' written on the back of the players' jerseys." The team "has signed a sponsorship deal with Dubai-based billionaires Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari." City of Arabia "is the brothers' signature project" in which they want to build a new city district in Dubai, UAE. The current deal between City of Arabia and Heilbronner Falken "runs through the end of the season." Talks about an extension of the deal "are currently underway" (STIMME, 12/16).

EPL Norwich City FC signed a three-year consulting agreement with Comcast-Spectacor subsidiary sports and marketing firm Front Row Marketing Services. Comcast-Spectacor will attempt to help the club expand its brand globally and identify new sponsorship opportunities. This is Front Row's first partnership with an EPL team (Norwich City). ... Liga ACB club Bilbao Basket has agreed to extend its sponsorship with insurance company Surne (ACB). ... Swiss home improvement retail chain Bauhaus will become the new main sponsor of the Vierschanzentournee. The contract was closed with Infront Sports & Media, the official marketing partner of the ski jumping series, and guarantees Bauhaus comprehensive advertising presence at all four of the event venues in Oberstdorf (Germany), Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria) and Bischofshofen (Austria) (Infront). ... Australian Football Leauge club Greater Western Sydney Giants agreed to a new three-year partnership with property development company Dyldam as their official shorts partner from '13. Dyldam initially joined the Giants in '12, supporting the club through corporate hospitality and match-day signage and have committed long term to the club’s future (GWS Giants). ... Ducati Australia & New Zealand has revealed its sponsorship of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Surf IronMan Series and IronWoman Series, with winners of both series riding away on an iconic Monster 659 ABS motorcycle. The IronMan and IronWoman Series will see Australian athletes compete in the ocean-based competition (Ducati Australia & New Zealand). ... Australian Rugby Union and beverage company Lion Co. announced the renewal of their decade-long partnership for a further three years. Lion also revealed Hahn Super Dry and Hallett Wine as the official beer and wine of the Quantas Wallabies (ARU).