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Volume 10 No. 25

Marketing and Sponsorship

The world's richest female athlete, Maria Sharapova, is planning "the most audacious move of her career -- changing her surname to Sugarpova for the two-week duration of the US Open, in honour of her line of sweets," according to  Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. Sharapova is looking into a "quickie" name-change through the Supreme Court of Florida, where she has a base, and "would revert to Sharapova after the tournament." The "striking emblem of Sugarpova candy, a pair of red lips, will feature somewhere on her attire during the event." It is "an extraordinary ruse by Sharapova and IMG, her management company, and there are no legal barriers to stop her." Sugarpova is a candy company started by the athlete with "an estimated $500,000 of her own money." And even if the court agrees, Sharapova "may still need the permission of the grand slam committee" (LONDON TIMES, 8/20).

UAE industry experts said that "it is evident that brands who link up with high profile athletes are more likely to see a return on their investment than using unknown actors," according to Alexander Cornwell of GULF NEWS. KHP Consulting Head of Business Development Anwar Shaikh said that "research shows that athletes had a positive effect on brand consumption." Shaikh said, "The day an endorsement is announced, there tends to be an increase in sales and in company stocks." Shaikh "estimated a regional brand endorsement by an athlete" to be worth as much as $2M. But he said that "there were a lot of variables to consider," including the profile of the individual and length of endorsement. Cristiano Ronaldo is the face of KFC Arabia, "featuring on several online platforms and outdoor advertisements." Abu Dhabi sports and entertainment marketing agency Fast Track Middle East Dir Mike Davis said that "it was all about how many products the company wanted to sell." Davis: "From a brand's point of view, you have to look at it in the context of the overall business and marketing objectives." Davis said that "a campaign with an athlete was ultimately judged on sales." Spanish sports management firm Media Base Digital Middle East Area Manager Max Roures said that it was not just the financial return "but also how consumers were engaged throughout the campaign." He said that "the consumer trust in a product or brand can increase" by as much as 75% (GULF NEWS, 8/18).

Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen has extended its partnership with Coca-Cola for another three years. The company will continue to provide non-alcoholic beverages at the BayArena until '16. In addition, Coca-Cola will receive marketing opportunities at the stadium (Bayer Leverkusen). ... Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt has extended its partnership with insurance company DFV Deutsche Familienversicherung AG for another three years. The company will receive ad space on boards in camera view, cam carpets and in the club's media publications for the next three seasons. The company has been a partner of the club since '10 (Eintracht Frankfurt). ... Spain's national basketball team, which is sponsored by Nike, will debut Nike-made custom shoes during the upcoming EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia. Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernández, Sergio Llull and Víctor Claver will "use new footwear with Spain's colors in the design." The shoes were developed through Nike iD, a tool that "allows for personalization at both the technical and style levels" (SPORT, 8/19). ... Nick Scali Furniture has joined the corporate partnership program of A-League side Sydney FC. The partnership is another step toward Sydney FC’s target of increasing its corporate sponsorship portfolio with established brands (Sydney FC). ... Online betting provider Bodog has signed a sponsorship deal with the Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation to be the exclusive online gaming partner of Ruff 10, which will be held in Shanghai (Bodog). ... Audi "has been announced as the title sponsor of the 2013 Hong Kong to Vietnam Race" organized by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. The 656 nautical mile Category One offshore race will start in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on Oct. 17, with post-race celebrations planned in Nha Trang, Vietnam on Oct. 20 (SAIL WORLD, 8/19). ... EPL side Crystal Palace FC has signed a one-year deal with 12BET to become the Eagles' new stadium sponsor and official betting partner. The deal is for an undisclosed fee. It is the first time a betting/gaming company has signed a stadium sponsorship deal in the U.K. (Crystal Palace).