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Volume 10 No. 22

Marketing and Sponsorship

A former senior BBC sports rights exec believes the European distribution of NBA, NFL and NHL media rights is selling the sports short, claiming they are simply “not jelling” with their audience across the Atlantic. Robert Foster, who has worked for 25 years acquiring sports rights at the BBC, has set up a new consultancy with his former BBC colleague David Murray, called Fozmuz. Foster is reaching out to U.S. sports federations, believing that Fozmuz offers an appealing counterpoint to giants such as IMG, as it is run by just two execs who have worked at the highest level thrashing out rights deals with UEFA and FIFA while offering a personal touch absent from the big players. Foster said, “If you look at the delivery of American sports like NHL, NFL and NBA, traditionally in the U.K. and Europe, their audiences are small, the rights fees are negligible and there is a lot of simulcasting going on. You can find 20 different channels that are showing the Super Bowl. They are understandably more concerned about exposure but there is probably not a lot of value there. I think there is a tradition that American sports doesn’t travel beyond the Atlantic."

BUCKING THE TREND: The NBA was pointed to by Foster as one league which they could possibly work with, though this is likely to be in the longer term. A number of U.K. clients are expected to be announced in the coming months. While the consultancy launched on Jan. 1, the pair will continue to work with the BBC, as advisors on top-level football, for the next six months at least. The consultancy’s focus, Foster said, will be partly philanthropic, highlighting that it will not have “an agenda” but a focus on growing “participation levels” in less popular sports. Fozmuz’s areas of expertise will be media rights, supported by Foster and Murray's ability to open doors and bulging contacts books.

THE TIME IS RIGHT:  With BT, Sky and others engaged in an increasingly frenzied bidding war for sports rights, Foster believes the market is now ripe with opportunities. Foster said, “We’re trying to help the people who can’t necessarily get attention of the big agencies, as sports are difficult to monetize. Any kind of Olympic sports, from hockey to gymnastics to athletics. Anything where two extra eyes can give extra value without an agenda.” Because of the pair’s status, Foster said they can afford to be choosy who they worked with. He said, “We’re not just going to take whoever comes along, like Underwater Netball giving us half a million pounds to do this.” Despite the BBC recently losing out on high-profile rights such as the Grand National and having its F1 rights halved, Foster believes the broadcaster is in good shape. He said, “Within a competitive environment, I think BBC Sport is quite strong. The arrival of BT means we’re looking at competition. There is no doubt that the BBC will be under severe pressure in two or three years' time. But presently I think it is in a robust situation.”
John Reynolds is a writer in London.

Brasileiro side Gremio is going to open its "own chain of fast food restaurants in a bid to diversify and bring in cash to sign new players," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. The Porto Alegre side, club world champions in '83, hopes to "sell as many as 90 franchises at between $80,000 and $270,000 over the next five years." The first is due to open in April. Gremio Marketing Manager Beto Carvalho said, "In a country where 37 percent of spending is on food eaten outside the home, we needed a new product that would help us with the fact we have the most fanatical fans in Brazil." Fans "voted in an online poll to call the restaurants Hamburgueria 1903 in reference to the year the club was founded." The decor will be in the club's colors of blue, black and white. Sports marketing firm Pluri developed the idea with Gremio. Pluri Head Fernando Ferreira said that "other teams are in talks to open similar club-themed restaurants" (REUTERS, 2/6).

Sports marketing agency Jung von Matt/sports "has acquired another new customer in the German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB)," according to Ingo Rentz of HORIZONT. The agency "will create a new brand presence for the organization and market it through a campaign." The DOSB joins JvM/sports' portfolio of customers, which includes the German Football Federation (DFB), table tennis Bundesliga and Karstadt Sports. JvM/sports co-Managing Dir Katja Kraus said, "We are very happy that the DOSB has decided on a creative and brave communication" (HORIZONT, 2/6).

Team India's cricket logo sponsorship "is up for grabs," according to the TIMES OF INDIA. Star India, which bought the team logo rights from the Board of Control for Cricket in India last December for three years, is "now looking to sublet the sponsorship space on Team India jerseys." According to a proposal floated by Star, the interested bidders "have been given three options to buy the logo sponsorship for a limited period." Star "has been allowed to sublet the complete sponsorship space on the jerseys" (TIMES OF INDIA, 2/4). In Mumbai, Vijay Tagore reported Star "wants to sell" the jersey sponsorship for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20, but is "yet to inform the BCCI formally." A BCCI official said, "We've not received any request from Star. We don't see it happening at least for World Twenty20. We need to get it approved by the ICC." The other packages on offer are (1) 18-20 games spread over 66-68 days that includes World Twenty20; five Tests and one T20I against England; three Tests and one T20I against West Indies; four Tests against Australia (2) around 24-29 days of ODIs that include four-five Asia Cup matches, five one-dayers against England, five against the West Indies and four to five against Australia (MUMBAI MIRROR, 2/6).

Barcelona has renewed its sponsorship with soft drink company BIG Cola for an additional three years through June '16. As Barcelona's regional partner, BIG Cola's sponsorship with the club, which began in '10, covers 12 Latin American countries as well as Egypt and Africa. More than 40% of Barcelona's 54 million Facebook fans are from Latin America (Barcelona). ... Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin has extended its partnership with sports marketing company SPORTFIVE until '25. SPORTFIVE will continue to be in charge of the club's marketing and TV rights, as well as its hospitality and new media offerings. The marketing company has been a partner of the club since '94 (Hertha Berlin). ... BMW has renewed its title sponsorship deal with the Berlin Marathon. The car company has been a partner of the event since '11 (Berlin Marathon). ... Nike has "produced yellow shirts for five Brazilian league teams as a special tribute to the country that will host the World Cup in June." Bahia, Corinthians, Coritiba, Internacional and Santos "have all been given a third shirt" embossed with the national team's logo "Nascido para jogar Futebol" ("Born to play football") (REUTERS, 6/5). ... Polish side Cracovia Krakow has signed a new kit deal with Italian sportswear manufacturer Legea. The contract with Legea begins in July '15. Legea will replace Nike, which has been Cracovia's kit supplier since '12. The value of the latest deal "was not disclosed by the club, but Cracovia says the sponsorship contract is the highest in its history" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 2/6). ... EPL side Newcastle United has named U.S.-based Papa John's its official pizza partner for the remainder of the season (Newcastle United).

O2 EXPANDING RUGBY SPONSORSHIP: England Rugby sponsor O2 is "promising to take experience of the sport to a whole new level by immersing fans fully within the team England using a virtual reality headset." The telecom firm has created a “Wear the Rose” game for the Oculus Rift-made virtual reality goggles that "lets fans feel they are a part of the national team." Audiences "will be given a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the England team set-up" -- participating in training drills directed by coach Mike Catt, receiving a team talk from captain Chris Robshaw or getting tackled by hooker Tom Youngs. The tie-up is "part of O2’s marketing around the RBS Six Nations tournament" (MARKETING WEEK, 2/6).

GMR MERGES WITH EXPERIENCE WORLDWIDE: GMR Marketing and Experience Worldwide announced a formal merger in the U.K. under the GMR name. The merger combines the agencies’ collective expertise in engagement marketing and sponsorship and their portfolios of int'l clients across sports, entertainment, music and lifestyle (GMR Marketing).

CONTINENTAL AG LINKS WITH UEFA: Continental AG has agreed to a new sponsorship with UEFA. The agreement includes touchline advertising at qualifiers for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and a presence on UEFA's website. Continental already has agreements covering the 2014 Brazil World Cup and Euro 2016 in France (TYRE PRESS, 2/6).

BANC SABADELL, BARCELONA OPEN RENEW: Spanish bank Banc Sabadell announced that is extending its sponsorship of the Barcelona Open through '20. The ATP tournament will continue to be known as the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The Barcelona Open is one of 11 annual ATP 500 tournaments (AS, 2/6).

LFP SIGNS WITH CHYRONHEGO: The Spanish Football League (LFP) and Mediapro have agreed to a four-year extension with ChyronHego (ChyronHego).