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Volume 6 No. 213

Marketing and Sponsorship

Pedro Grzywacz's SPR Sports "claims to have built the world’s largest franchise of football club merchandise stores dedicated to one club," according to Joe Leahy of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Brasileiro club Corinthians "is the most popular in São Paulo and the second most popular in Brazil," with an estimated 35 million fans. SPR’s stores are known by the team’s nickname -- Poderoso Timão -- "or roughly, the Mighty Helm, after the ship’s wheel that is the club’s symbol." With 120 Timão stores and another 100 selling a mix of merchandise from other Brazilian domestic football clubs, Grzywacz said that "he owes his success not just to the popularity of the sport in Brazil but to the rise of a new lower-middle class in the country over the past decade." Grzywacz said, "When you have a certain level of development, people start to work fewer hours per week and have more free time for sports and entertainment." The puzzle for companies "is how to do business with the domestic leagues given their often chaotic financial state." They are frequently "heavily indebted and run by huge boards mostly consisting of sports enthusiasts rather than professional managers." For instance, Erich Beting, who runs sports website Máquina do Esporte, said that Brazil’s most popular club, Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo, "has 1,000 members on its board, of which 300 might turn up to any given meeting." Day-to-day managers "are not given autonomy." Beting said, "It is very difficult to manage all of that." The company "makes its money by selling a huge range of products" -- 400 lines in total -- from Corinthian baby suits to caps. The jerseys "are sold under licence from Nike." Grzywacz: "At first Nike’s nose was out of joint; it did not want to supply the shops. Today, we are the third-largest football client of Nike in Brazil." His newest project, started only a few months ago, is a franchise of Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) stores. Nike is supplying 50% of the products "and SPR the other half" (FT, 6/19). 

While TV will "reap most of the benefit" of advertising dollars around the FIFA World Cup, publishers "both online and off are fighting for their share of the windfall, not only covering the matches but also introducing websites, digital magazines and branded-content campaigns" dedicated to the event, according to Michael Sebastian of AD AGE. Sports Illustrated "bumped up its soccer blog Planet Futbol to become a new section on the magazine's website." SI reps said that brands "including Degree, Edge Shave Gel and Canon have signed on as sponsors." Elsewhere, Men's Health has "simultaneously published its first single-topic digital edition, a guide to the World Cup." The issue is "free on the iTunes store," with Rogaine as the "sole sponsor." The digital edition "has been downloaded 30,000 times." But the stakes "might be highest for publishers that already focus on soccer." ComScore data showed that "attracted 1.4 million unique U.S. visitors from desktop and mobile devices in May, up 42% from May 2013" and has a "significantly larger audience globally." has "inked ad deals with Puma, Sony, Samsung, Hyundai and Gatorade around the World Cup." Sporting News Media Division CRO Rich Routman, whose company owns, said that the site "filmed, produced and distributed soccer videos to support Gatorade's 'Unreal Around the World' campaign." Meanwhile, Brazil forward Neymar "arrived on a number of magazine covers in the U.S., including WSJ, a monthly magazine inside Wall Street Journal weekend editions." He also "appeared on The New York Times Magazine, which put out three separate soccer-themed covers the week of June 6." The other two editions featured Portugal midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina forward Lionel Messi. Bloomberg Businessweek "put out two of its own World Cup covers in May," featuring either Messi or Ronaldo (AD AGE, 6/19).

The Scottish Professional Football League has "yet to entice a lead sponsor," and CEO Stewart Regan believes that there "is still a long way to go before Scottish football is back on its feet," according to Scott McDermott of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The announcement "could be made next week about a restructure of the TV deal, allowing more Championship games to be screened." Regan: “There will be very exciting games in the Championship next season. But on the basis there’s no commercial partners coming into the league it’s clearly not as attractive as everyone would like” (DAILY RECORD, 6/19).

German Hockey League (DEL) club Cologne Sharks has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with local utility provider RheinEnergie for another year. The partnership between the club and RheinEnergie will enter its 16th year with the begining of the '14-15 season. The company's logo will remain front and center on the club's jerseys (Cologne Sharks). ... Imagine Cruising has agreed to a two-year sponsorship with League One Swindon Town (Swindon Town). ... Premier League side West Ham United has announced a partnership with bookmaker Marathonbet to make it the club's new betting partner. The long-term partnership runs from the beginning of the '14-15 campaign, and will also see Marathonbet become the title partner of the club's annual home preseason match, The Marathonbet Cup (West Ham). ... The 2014 National College and Technical Institute Championships in Cambodia which began on Monday, "has been boosted by sponsorship from Angkor beer company." The deal "has been brokered thanks to" the Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport Dr. Hang Chuon Naron (PHNOM PENH POST, 6/19).