The Australian Football League’s "prized" A$15M ($11.7M)-a-season deal with title sponsor Toyota is "safe" as the carmaker declared it has "full faith" in the sport’s administrators after revelations about a sex scandal, according to Darren Davidson of THE AUSTRALIAN. Other "big name brands" including Carlton & United Breweries are "standing firm behind the sport and even praise the code’s administrators" for their handling of the reported revelations. Toyota, AFL’s premier partner of 13 years, extended its long-term partnership last year until at least the end of '19, "ranking it among the biggest sponsorship deals in Australian sport." A Toyota spokesperson said, "Toyota's relationship with the AFL remains unchanged. ... We're a long-time sponsor of the AFL, and believe it's a great game to be part of." AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan forced the resignations of two of his most senior execs after they admitted to "having affairs with younger female employees." The AFL "sought to tamp down any concerns" among partners by reaching out to sponsors directly on Friday as the affairs became public after a report in the Herald Sun. CUB is "deeply embedded" in the AFL with tie-ups such as The Carlton Draught Friday Front Bar show. A spokesperson for CUB said, "CUB and the AFL share a great partnership fostered over many years, and which we expect to continue to flourish." Adam Ferrier, a brand expert and founder of Melbourne-based agency Thinkerbell, said that the AFL "avoided serious damage" to the game’s brand by "getting on the front foot." Ferrier said, "The indiscretions of staff have been well handled by the AFL. They've come out and acknowledged the issue" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/17).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Volkswagen will from '19 replace Mercedes-Benz as the top sponsor of the German national football team, the company and the German FA (DFB) announced on Friday, according to the AFP. The deal comes as VW "struggles with the fallout" of its "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal and Mercedes maker Daimler "also faces accusations it rigged air pollution tests." The agreement will run from January 1, 2019 through July 31, 2024 (AFP, 7/15). DEUTSCHE WELLE reported German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited "sources close to the negotiations" who said that VW will pay €25M-€30M ($28.7M-$34.4M) a year. The partnership will reportedly include a payment of €6M ($6.9M) for the DFB's national cup competition, which VW already sponsors. A VW spokesperson said, "Football would fit Volkswagen's image because it's the sport of the people." The sum "is a major improvement for German football" as Mercedes pays only around €8M ($9.2M) a year. It gives VW the right to have its logo "printed on the Germany training and pre-match kits," next to the DFB's main sponsor, adidas (DW, 7/13). The DFB said Friday that its leadership "chose Volkswagen unanimously." The DFB added that the decision followed a "detailed economic and substantive analysis" of bids from Mercedes and VW (AP, 7/14). REUTERS' Cremer & Grohmann reported Wolfsburg-based VW has for years "spent heavily on its own Bundesliga football team even though experts have questioned the business case" because VfL Wolfsburg has "only limited revenue streams" and lacks an int'l fan base (REUTERS, 7/14).
Malaysian state oil and gas firm Petronas signed a multi-year extension to its title sponsorship of Formula 1 team Mercedes "despite Malaysia dropping off the race calendar after this season," the team said on Saturday, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The deal "was signed at the end of last year but kept under wraps by both parties." Petronas President & Group CEO Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said, "We intend to stay the course" (REUTERS, 7/15). ESPN.com's Laurence Edmondson reported Mercedes "debunked" former F1 team Owner Eddie Jordan's theory that it is "planning to pull out of the sport at the end of next year." Jordan "has twice gone on the record saying the Mercedes' board is planning to exit the sport" at the end of '18, claiming that two of its "big commercial contracts" with major sponsors Petronas and UBS are due to expire at the same time. Wan Ariffin said, "There is a renewed vitality and a new level of energy in the sport this year. With new rules and regulations for this year, and many new things for the fans, the sport is increasing in terms of audience and that's great" (ESPN.com, 7/15).
Toyota rival Mercedes-Benz is "closing in on the signature of Test captain and face of the game Steve Smith," as Cricket Australia continues talks with "major sponsors concerned about being ambushed in the pay war," according to Ben Horne of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Negotiations continued on Sunday in Melbourne, "with CA buoyed by the news" that CA CEO James Sutherland's "prodigiously talented" son Will chose cricket over the Australian Football League "in the midst of the dispute." However, "the game is living on a knife's edge and cricket's official sponsors are demanding peace as a matter of urgency." Last week, cricketer Mitchell Starc "publicly announced his new personal arrangement with Audi Parramatta." Smith's manager "is overseas in India and could not be contacted" to confirm if a car dealership deal has already been finalized for his client. However, "the mere fact the Australian skipper and its biggest name is being circled by Toyota rivals led by Mercedes, shines another searing spotlight on the cut-throat importance" being placed on cricket resolving its pay dispute this week. Smith "is doing nothing out of the ordinary by signing with a car dealership -- in fact it happens regularly with CA approval." The "key difference" is that with no MOU in place, Toyota is "not protected in any way and players are no longer banned from doing public promotion like Starc did" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/16).
League Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers announced Thomas Cook Sport as its official travel partner. Thomas Cook Sport will provide the first team and U21 team with travel arrangements and services throughout the '17-18 season (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Second Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern launched a partnership with Ticketmaster. The ticket sales and distribution company will serve as the club's official ticketing partner from the start of the '17-18 season (SOCCEREX, 7/14).
The World Para Athletics Championships at the London Stadium announced London City Airport as an official supplier for the competition. The airport provided marketing support ahead of the championships (SPORT INDUSTRY, 7/14).
Nedbank extended its title sponsorship of South African football's knockout cup competition, which is sanctioned by the country's Premier Soccer League. The five-year renewal will see the tournament continue to formally be known as the Nedbank Cup until '22 (SOCCEREX, 7/14).
Serie A side Inter Milan announced supplement brand Prozis as an official sponsor for the '17-18 season (Inter Milan).
Yorkshire County Cricket Club announced First West Yorkshire as the club's preferred travel partner for home matches (BDAILY, 7/13).