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Volume 6 No. 217

Marketing and Sponsorship

This summer, Lionel Messi sponsor adidas was willing to pay half of the €250M ($337M) buy-out clause "in Messi's Barcelona contract for him to sign with one of the top three teams it sponsors -- Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid," according to Roger Torelló of MUNDO DEPORTIVO. Adidas was "available to pay" €125M ($168.7M) to help "another team sign Messi away from Nike-sponsored Barcelona, but Messi had no intention of leaving the club, which he joined at the age of 13" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 11/5). In London, Pete Jenson reported "even if adidas had stumped" up the payment of half of Messi's buy-out clause, "Chelsea would still have had to find" the other €125M ($168.7M) and Manager Jose Mourinho "would have had to convince a player with whom he has never had a very good relationship that the two could work together" (DAILY MAIL, 11/5).

Can chess be "transformed into a money-spinning global spectator sport?" It is a question that will be much on U.S. media entrepreneur Andrew Paulson’s mind as "he settles down to watch the opening ceremony of the game’s latest world championship match in Chennai," India, according to James Crabtree of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Paulson "last year paid Fide, the world chess federation, $500,000 for exclusive global rights to commercialise the sport over the next decade." Paulson "plans to infuse chess with the same mix of lucrative sponsorship deals and general razzmatazz that helped the Indian Premier League to revolutionise international cricket." If "outwardly tedious sports" such as snooker or golf can become "mass-market spectacles," he reasons, why not a pastime that Fide says is enjoyed by roughly 600 million each month? The "difficulties he faces are clear from the contest in Chennai, which many aficionados say ought to have the makings of a classic." On one side of the board is Viswanathan Anand, "home-town hero and five-time world champion." On the other is Magnus Carlsen, "a telegenic Norwegian prodigy, whose floppy blonde hair and handsome features make him something of a sex symbol." Yet the match "remains a hard sell for spectators." Despite his efforts, commercial progress "has so far been slow." The match in Chennai "boasts just one sponsor, the host state of Tamil Nadu," which handed over Rs290M ($4.7M) to cover costs and prizes. The games "will be broadcast live, but only on India’s stodgy government-backed television channel." Still, Paulson "refuses to be downcast." He said, "Chess tournaments have traditionally been organized by ex-chess players, who are reductionist, and have lost touch with the cinema, the drama of this game. But in time a revolution is possible. If you can persuade millions to watch golf, chess is going to be an easy sell" (FT, 11/5).

Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain announced a new, two-year partnership with McDonald's in the Ile de France region. The partnership will see McDonald's receive more visibility in the Paris St. Germain media. One of the biggest operations will be undertaken before the end of the year in more than 200 restaurants in Ile-de-France -- or around 80% of the restaurants of the region -- with the creation of a special meal deal called the "Menu Paris Saint-Germain" (Paris St. Germain).

IMG announced Mercedes-Benz as a new senior partner and official vehicle of the Australian Masters for the '13 and '14 tournaments. The brand will also serve as the official vehicle for the 2013 ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, which will be staged the following week after the Australian Masters at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The partnership will see Mercedes-Benz vehicles act as the official tournament vehicles and also be showcased through various branding and engagement programs (IMG Australia).

The Rugby Football Union has extended its partnership with Gilbert Rugby for another seven years. Expanding its support for the game, the official and exclusive ball supplier of England Rugby will equip all levels and RFU competitions including All Schools (RFU). ... Global online cash payments provider Ukash has joined forces with the Cheltenham Racecourse to sponsor during the second day of The Open. Ukash has lent its name to the new £20,000 ($31,900) Listed Ukash Mares Bumper that concludes the racecard on Nov. 16. It is a new venture for Ukash, wich will be supporting horseracing for the first time (Ukash). ... League Two Oxford United is continuing its partnership with barbecue brand Weber. Weber has worked alongside the club for the last three years and is one of the more prominent names at every home game with its branding on every step in the North Stand (Oxford United FC).