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Volume 6 No. 215

Marketing and Sponsorship

There is "strong evidence" that Rolex’s recent deal to become F1’s global partner and official timepiece is an attempt to outmaneuver Omega "and halt the erosion of its position as the world’s biggest watch brand," according to Robin Swithinbank of the FINANCIAL TIMES. A report released by Digital Luxury Group revealed that the gap in global interest between Rolex and Omega "has shrunk" from 8.4% in '09 to 2% in '12. Omega’s brand value "was given a significant boost" in '12. DLG’s Founder & CEO David Sadigh said that Rolex’s F1 deal "is a last roll of the dice to prevent Omega from usurping its top position." Sadigh: "Omega is on its way to create a shadow over Rolex in the long run. Major sports event sponsorships, ubiquitous celebrity endorsements and a competitive product offering are some of the key ingredients for the Swatch Group brand to grow further. This could ultimately end up in reaching Rolex’s unmatched popularity three to five years from now." Rolex’s F1 deal "is believed to be worth" $35M a year for 10 years, a figure "unconfirmed by the company, which declines to comment on it." Even for a brand with such heavy financial clout, that "is a considerable outlay." Much of the justification for it "lies in the growth of both the luxury watch industry and interest in F1 in one of the world’s most important economies -- Brazil." Brazil is "the biggest market for F1 fans in the world." Brazil’s importance "is heightened further" because it will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Omega is a Worldwide Olympic “partner,” and will reprise its role as official timekeeper at the Rio Games, "making Brazil an important battleground for the two brands" (FT, 6/8).

Repucom's Celebrity DBI, a global index that measures public perception of more than 5,000 celebrities worldwide, shows that Lionel Messi currently has an edge on Neymar in fame and image, but predicts great potential development for Neymar, according to SPORT. Spain Repucom Dir Ramón Amich said, "Neymar is a big star in Brazil and Latin America. He has the talent and the image to become one of the biggest brands in the world of football. As seen in the DBI, he still has a long path to reach the market penetration that Messi has in Spain with his sponsors. However, this can change quickly, and with Barcelona, Neymar finds himself on the perfect platform to increase and improve his fame and image in Spain. The world's eyes will be fixed on Neymar and if his performance is good, the public perception will evolve favorably" (SPORT, 6/9).

Real Madrid and German int'l midfielder Mesut Özil "is reportedly leaving Nike and will from now on play in adidas shoes," according to Thomas Gassmann of the BERLINER KURIER. Özil "has reportedly signed a five-year deal with adidas." Including bonuses such as being voted world footballer of the year, winning the World Cup or Euro title, he will receive up to €3.5M ($4.54M) a year. The deal "was already signed on May 13." Özil's father Mustafa, who is also his son's advisor, said, "I can only say that we will soon present a new partner." Özil will also get his own adidas shoe, which "will be the world's lightest" with a weight of only 150 grams (BERLINER KURIER, 6/6).

European online sports retailer Kitbag has been named the official retail partner for the 2014 Ryder Cup, to be held in Perthshire, Scotland. Kitbag will be responsible for running the on-site merchandise pavilion. Additionally, Kitbag will operate an online shop in advance of the biennial event (European Tour). ... Championship side Bristol City has extended its sponsorship deal with Blackthorn cider. The brand will be featured on home and away kits as well as training merchandise for the first time (Bristol City). ... National Rugby League Melbourne Storm has signed Japanese automaker Suzuki to a three-year sponsorship extension (HERALD SUN, 6/7). ... German third-division side Alemannia Aachen will use Infront Sports & Media to handle all commercial rights of the club. This includes the main sponsorship, the official kit supplier package, board advertising at homes games and hospitality (Infront).