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Volume 6 No. 212

Marketing and Sponsorship

Premier League club Sunderland shirt sponsor Invest in Africa is reviewing its relationship with the club, amid claims that "the appointment of Manager Paolo Di Canio could alienate thousands of fans," according to John Reynolds of MARKETING MAGAZINE. Invest in Africa signed a one-year deal in '12 and is "reviewing whether or not to renew its sponsorship." Sport sponsorship experts believe the appointment of Di Canio, whose political views have caused controversy, will be "a huge factor in its decision to renew the deal." Brandrapport Managing Dir Andy Kenny said, "What is apparent is Di Canio's appointment has caused a media stir, and as a sponsor it can bring your brand into focus...As a sponsor you can be tarnished by a partnership with an organization whose brand and judgement is being questioned, but it's also important to ensure that you don't get caught up in the media frenzy." (MARKETING MAGAZINE, 4/2). In London, Andy James wrote Invest in Africa refused to discuss the effect Di Canio's appointment could have on the sponsorship deal when contacted, but a spokesperson said, "It (Di Canio's position) is a football-related matter and under the remit of the club" (DAILY MAIL, 4/2).

A NEW PARTNERSHIP: In London, Sam Munnery wrote Di Canio met Monday with an exec from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, "with which Sunderland has struck a new partnership that sits well alongside its relationship with Invest in Africa." The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory CEO Sello Hatang said that the partnership with the club is a commitment to "human rights and anti-racism" before adding, "Sunderland reaffirmed its commitment to these values" (LONDON TIMES, 4/2). REUTERS' Toby Davis wrote Di Canio described the controversy over his appointment as "ridiculous and pathetic" and refused to answer questions about whether he held fascist beliefs in his first news conference on Tuesday. Di Canio: "I don't have to answer any more this question, there was a very good statement from the club, (with) very, very clear words that came out from me" (REUTERS, 4/2).

CONTROVERSIAL PAST: The BBC reported Di Canio "has talked in the past of his fascist views." He is reported to have said in an interview with Italian news agency Ansa in '05 that his straight arm salute when playing for Lazio was aimed at "my people," who he defines as members of Benito Mussolini's fascist movement and "was not intended to incite racial hatred." Sunderland insist claims Di Canio has racist or fascist sympathies are insulting to both the "integrity of the club" and its new manager (BBC, 4/2). In London Mark Ogden reported a Facebook site has been set up with the title “Sunderland Against Fascist Di Canio,” and "a petition calling for the manager’s removal has been started by supporters." However, a poll on a fans’ website, which generated more than 650 responses, shows "approximately 60 per cent in support of Di Canio" (TELEGRAPH, 4/2).

Turkish Airlines will sponsor ESPN's new global documentary series called "Basketball Capitals presented by Turkish Airlines," which profiles the culture and passion for basketball within the world's most iconic cities. The new partnership takes viewers through four premier destinations that Turkish Airlines serves: Madrid, Berlin, Istanbul and Athens. Basketball Capitals is developed and executive produced by ESPN's Int'l Marketing Solutions. Basketball Capitals will premier on May 14 (ESPN).

Adidas believes that FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi is "such a transcendent star, it would be silly NOT to try” to promote him in the U.S., according to Brian Shactman of Messi is “the best soccer player in the world but he's virtually unknown” stateside. Adidas America Soccer Dir Ernesto Bruce said, "Soccer in the U.S. has lovers, and it has haters." Adidas just “launched a global retail brand of shoes and apparel that are all about Lionel Messi.” Bruce said, "Our goal with the Messi line is to make him globally recognized as one of the best ever -- and that includes the U.S." He added, "This is only the second time we've ever done a global line like this. David Beckham was the first." However, Shactman wrote the “problem in America isn't just that soccer is fifth fiddle,” it also is that Messi “doesn't possess a star's persona.” Bruce: "We struggle with that at times because we want to use him in other disciplines. But what's great about it is that he's authentic." He added, "We are launching now because we think the 2014 World Cup will be historic for Messi” (CNBC, 4/1).

Team India cricketer R. Ashwin and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting unveiled Nike's new cricket shoes in Bengaluru, India Tuesday. There are two varietes of the white, blue and orange colored shoes: Nike Lunardominate for batting and Nike Lunaraccelerate for bowling (Nike). ... Airline Air India has joined Indian Premier League teams Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians "as their official airline partner" for the sixth edition of the IPL. The players of these two teams "would be flying by Air India during the franchise-based Twenty20 league to be held at different venues around the country from April 3 to May 26" (PTI, 4/2). ... Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) club Eisbären Bremerhaven has extended its sponsorship deal with clothing manufacturer owayo. The Regensburg, Germany-based company will continue to provide the team with game, practice and leisure clothes for another three years (Eisbären Bremerhaven). ... In its bid to "connect with their huge global fan base," Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians "launched a three-tier campaign on digital platform which will run through the entire duration of the cash-rich league" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 4/2).