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Volume 6 No. 212

Marketing and Sponsorship

La Liga club Atletico Madrid wants online betting provider Bwin to become its title sponsor next season and the "negotiations are under way," according to GOAL. For this season, the Madrid-based club has a main jersey deal with Azerbaijan’s tourism authority worth €12M ($15.6M). The team has "maintained contact with a number of different companies over the past weeks," but Bwin has been the most convincing "and has the best possibility" of being chosen as the title sponsor. Bwin currently sponsors Atletico rivals Real Madrid, but the deal expires at the end of the season (GOAL, 3/22).

More than four in 10 people say it is "time to ban alcohol sponsorship in sports, a number alcohol control advocate groups see as encouraging," according to Steve Deane of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. A Herald-DigiPoll survey asked whether alcohol sponsorship of sports bodies "should be made unlawful along the same lines as tobacco sponsorship," which was banned in the early '90s. National Addiction Centre Dir Doug Sellman said, "I don't think you would have got that number two years ago. There has been a real shift in public opinion around alcohol." While some alcohol advisory groups do not believe such a ban would go far enough, breweries argue the industry is "already heavily regulated and that banning sports sponsorship would do little to alleviate binge drinking, while harming sports bodies by limiting their revenue." New Zealand Rugby Union public affairs GM Nick Brown said that commercial support of a wide range of products and services was "vital to help grow and promote the game." Brown: "New Zealand rugby is an advocate of sensible decision-making around alcohol by adults." Lion Breweries, which makes Steinlager, said there was "no evidence to suggest banning sponsorship would lead to a reduction in binge drinking." External relations Manager Liz Read said that rules around promotion of alcohol "were already strict" (NZH, 3/25).

Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt "is expected to sign a new title sponsorship deal with Italy-based car manufacturer Fiat," according to Ralf Weitbrecht of the FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG. Reports suggest that the deal "has not been officially signed yet, but will definitely happen." Eintracht Frankfurt Chair Heribert Bruchhagen only confirmed that "we are in promising talks." The new deal "will be the most lucrative title-sponsorship deal in the club's history, as it is expected to be worth €6M ($7.8M) per season." Eintracht's current sponsorship deal with brewery Krombacher brings in €5.5M ($7.1M) a year. The title-sponsorship deal with the brewery "is limited to the current season and will be transformed into a premium partnership." Eintracht Frankfurt and Fiat "are expected to sign a three-year deal" (FAZ, 3/22).

STUTTGART: Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart will wear a special jersey for the introduction of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA. Between Saturday and April 21, the club's jersey will feature the three letters "CLA" on the chest (VfB Stuttgart).

Li Ning launched its newest brand at a gala event in Texas last month with U.S. basketball player Dwayne Wade "showing off sports shoes he helped design," according to Kwok & Jourdan of REUTERS. But his fans "can't buy them yet." Li Ning has no stores in the U.S. and "recently shut the e-commerce section of its U.S. website." It has left analysts "puzzling the logic of splashing out on an expensive NBA superstar with no apparent U.S. retail strategy in place." Sports industry analysts said the Wade signing was "more about marketing to Chinese consumers than trying to build brand recognition" in the U.S., where Nike and its Jordan brand control 90% of the basketball shoe market. Colorado-based sporting goods research group SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said, "The primary idea here is to say to the Chinese consumer, 'One of the best players in the NBA is wearing our shoes and you should too.'" The Chinese firm is "paying top dollar for an elite athlete" just as Nike and other established sportswear brands are scaling back on big-name endorsements because of disappointing returns. Haitong Int'l Research analyst Elyse Wang  in Shenzhen said, "It (the Wade deal) has a positive effect in boosting Li Ning's image ... but it doesn't necessarily generate more sales. The deal is not justified as for sure it's offering a very high price" (REUTERS, 3/23).

Swiss luxury watch brand Hublot announced NBA L.A. Lakers player Kobe Bryant as its latest brand ambassador. To commemorate the partnership, Hublot will release Bryant’s signature timepiece, the Hublot King Power Black Mamba, worldwide (Hublot). ... Kent Cricket office technology partner Balreed has agreed on a three-year partnership. The Kent-based document and print-based company is a sponsor of the Club's LV County Championship team, the partnership includes the playing and replica shirts being branded with the Balreed logo (Kent Cricket). ... National Rugby League club Manly announced a new corporate partnership with electronics and TV manufacturer SONIQ. The SONIQ brand will be displayed under the number of the NRL and NYC jersey, with the Sea Eagles set to launch the partnership against the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park on Saturday afternoon (Manly).