Repucom and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced a global research partnership on Friday to assist UFC in its global expansion plans. Stamford, Conn.-based Repucom will track the impact and effectiveness of the UFC brand around the world, including global fan research, broadcast auditing and sponsor evaluation for the entire UFC schedule, which includes more than 30 live events, and more than 300 hours of original programming annually, in approximately 145 countries and territories. UFC's parent company, Zuffa, is headquartered in Las Vegas with offices in London, Toronto and Beijing. Repucom has 20 global offices and a presence on every continent. There have been 225 UFC events held in 84 cities, within 12 countries and 32 U.S. states or territories, including a Jan. 19 bout in Brazil broadcast on FX. The property has events scheduled in Stockholm, London and Saitama, Japan in '13. The deal does extend to include some video game and online research, however a Repucom spokesperson would not confirm specifics.
WORLDWIDE EXPANSION: UFC just completed the first year of a seven-year broadcast agreement with Fox Sports Media Group, which included the broadcast of four annual live events on Fox, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on Fox's FX and Fuel TV. Repucom's research will also include programming such as the UFC reality series "The Ultimate Fighter," which is the longest-running sports reality show on TV. The show is in its 17th season in the U.S., with int'l versions in Brazil and Australia and additional countries expected to debut it this year. According to Nielsen, Fox's four bouts in '12 averaged 3.47 million viewers, FX's 13-episode "The Ultimate Fighter 16" series concluded in December and averaged 866,000, and UFC.com averaged 700,000 unique visitors during the season.
The Scottish Rugby Union is "celebrating the most lucrative shirt sponsorship in Scottish rugby history" by inviting supporters to design the kit they want to see their heroes wear, according to Roddy Duncan of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Scotland is the first major Test rugby team to be fully kitted out by Italian sportswear manufacturer Macron. Scotland specialist coach Paterson said, "Scots the world over take great pride in the team jersey. It’s so much more than a piece of fabric. It symbolizes Scotland and all our heritage and tradition. For me there was always a duty to fill the jersey and enhance that pride." Edinburgh Managing Dir Craig Docherty will quit his post to manage the relationship between the SRU and Macron (DAILY RECORD, 1/25).
Insurance company AIG said that "it has already got business benefits from its sponsorship of the All Blacks," New Zealand's men's national rugby union team, according to Bradley & Grant of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. AIG NZ CEO Cris Knell said that the firm "had got a number of leads" since announcing the five-year deal in October. Although the All Blacks deal is AIG's "big international sports sponsorship, in New Zealand it hopes to use it to build brand recognition and move beyond its mainly small business and corporate focus." Knell said, "We really felt that as an organization we had a lot of pride in coming through the challenges that we were faced with and we wanted to be able to associate with this [team]." AIG Dir of Global Branding Mark Clowes said that the company "worked for almost a year before taking the plunge with the All Blacks." Clowes said, "We looked at a lot of different sports properties and did a lot of research and due diligence on this and in terms of an iconic prestigious franchise -- and by most measures with the winningest record in sport -- we viewed that as a winning combination" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 1/26).
Supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda have been criticized for stocking an energy drink "promoted by convicted rapist Mike Tyson which uses the slogan 'sex energy,'" according to Simon Neville of the London GUARDIAN. But despite the complaints, "all three retailers have no plans to remove Black Energy," Poland's best-selling energy drink, from their shelves. Black Energy chose to use Tyson for its marketing campaign, which includes a series of advertisements where he is "surrounded by scantily clad women." The issue was first raised with Tesco last year when an online petition was set up, calling for the company to stop stocking the drink. A spokesperson for Tesco said that it was a "popular product among Polish customers." The spokesperson added: "We have worked hard with the supplier to alter the packaging of the product." Sainsbury's said: "We are closely monitoring this and will pass on these concerns to the owner of Black Energy." Asda said that it was "reviewing the situation" (GUARDIAN, 1/25).
Chilean football club Universidad Católica has renewed its shirt sponsorship deal with DirecTV. The company will sponsor the club in all domestic and int'l competitions (Universidad Católica). MAQUINA DO ESPORTE noted the deal is for two years and will see the DirecTV logo on the front and upper back of the team's jersey. Terms of the agreement "were not disclosed" (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 1/25).
Ligue 1 club Toulouse has agreed to a one game shirt sponsorship deal with tourism company So Toulouse. The team will have the company's logo on its jersey for Friday's home game against Paris St. Germain (LA DEPECHE DU MIDI, 1/26). ... Serie A Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi has agreed to a sponsorship deal with adidas (ANSA, 1/24). ... The bet-at-home Cup, the ATP tennis tournament in Kitzbühl, Austria has partnered with sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media. Infront will support the sale of sponsorship packages for the event (Infront). ... U.K. car dealership Benfield Motor Group has agreed to its first major group level sponsorship deal in the county, with a new partnership with '12 Super League champions Leeds Rhinos. The sponsorship is its biggest deal to date in Yorkshire and follows existing partnerships in the North East with rugby Championship side Newcastle Falcons, British Basketball League club Newcastle Eagles and Durham County Cricket Club (Benfield Motor Group). ... The Super League revealed that Heinz BIG Soup has extended its partnership with the league for the '13 season (Super League).
GERMAN DEALS: Bundesliga club FC Augsburg has extended its title sponsorship deal with automotive supplier AL-KO Kober AG until '15. In addition to having its logo featured on the team's jerseys, the deal includes ad space on boards in camera view and on cam carpets. The deal was brokered by sports marketing company SPORTFIVE (FC Augsburg). ... Bundesliga club Hamburg SV has signed on Swiss watchmaker Eterna as the club's official watch partner. The new two-and-a-half-year deal includes the branding of the unique HSV-Bundesliga-Uhr at the Imtech Arena, as well as logo presence on sponsorship and partnership boards in the VIP entrance area and inside the club's publications (HSV). ... German 3rd League club Alamannia Aachen has agreed to a new title sponsorship deal with electric car manufacturer StreetScooter GmbH (Alemannia Aachen). ... German 3rd League club SpVgg Unterhaching has signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with charity foundation Stars4Kids (SpVgg Unterhaching).