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Volume 10 No. 22

Marketing and Sponsorship

With Real Madrid "keen" to maximize revenue in its "constant financial battle" with ManU, the club reportedly renewed its shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates a year ahead of schedule and will receive €70M ($83.5M) per year as part of the new agreement, according to MARCA. Palco23 reported Real Madrid did not "wish to wait until the current contract expired" and the new agreement will run through the '21-22 season. The new terms would triple Real Madrid's current shirt sponsorship deal and surpass ManU's deal with Chevrolet, which is worth €62M ($74M) per year. The deal "is not yet official, although the economic side of the renewal has been agreed between the two parties" (MARCA, 9/21).

Online betting company Betfred will "in effect" end its commercial relationship with British horse racing next July when its exclusive deal to operate pools betting expires, CEO Fred Done revealed, according to Tom Kerr of RACING POST. Done warned that the sport and his company "have got to learn to live without each other." The firm, a "prolific" race sponsor and on-course betting shop operator, will "shut almost all" of its track offices and "cease sponsoring" in July '18 when the pools license ends. The move will affect "more than 600 races and potentially cost racing close to" £6M ($8.2M) per year in lost sponsorship income alone. Only races at Ascot and the Betfred-owned Chelmsford, "both of which will retain the Tote" post-July '18, will avoid the sponsorship cull, while "at least 49 of the firm's 51 course betting shops will close." Done's "dramatic move is in response to the decision of 54 British courses to launch their own pools betting operation next year." Among the races that will need new sponsors are the Ebor at York, the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch at Newmarket and the Grand National Trial at Haydock. Betfred sponsored "close to 1,000 races" in '16, almost one in 10 of the 10,035 contests staged last year. Done said, "As from next year, we will fulfill everything we promise. We will not go back on anything or dodge anything or get out of contracts. I gave racing the opportunity of saying, 'We don't want you as a sponsor,' and I would have walked away. They didn't take that opportunity, but as of next July we will not be sponsoring anywhere but for the exceptions of Ascot and Chelmsford" (RACING POST, 9/21).

It has "not been the best of times" for McLaren-Honda Formula 1, according to Shawn Lim of THE DRUM. However, Exec Dir Zak Brown and CMO John Allert "remained bullish" that the McLaren brand is "round the corner from gaining former sporting glory." Ever since Lewis Hamilton took home the drivers’ trophy for McLaren at the '08 Brazilian Grand Prix, "it has all gone pear shaped for the British team." Brown, who took over McLaren Technology Group Founder Ron Dennis' responsibilities as exec director at the end of '16, admitted that the team’s performance has "hurt the brand image as it is not delivering brand value, which is winning." Brown is "quick to add his belief that because McLaren has a long and illustrious history of winning, the brand has not been permanently damaged." He said, "You can market around year-by-year, up and down sporting success, not everyone always wins, but we have gone too long without our track success. I don't think there is anything you can do to market around that." He added, "We have had setbacks, all sporting teams have success and failures, which is what makes it exciting. It certainly makes it hard to bring in new partners when you are not in the middle of success, but we think that is right around the corner." Concurring with Brown, Allert explained that as a proposition, McLaren is a race team and "also much more than a race team." Allert: "We are a technology group and we have a lot of interesting partnerships, although they might touch Formula 1, actually have their bases in other technological projects or relationship. ... We are a brand that people like and respect, a brand that has technology and innovation at its heart and we have a fantastic drive lineup, and it has helped us get through these lean years." Brown revealed that since he took over, the company has "put a big focus on its commercial ways of working, made a decent amount of changes with a lot of new hires and set itself up to be a more data-driven, flexible and adaptable partner to its sponsors." He said, "So far, we have been seeing some good results." Brown, a former marketer, stressed that for an F1 team to be successful, it "needs a very successful commercial and marketing team." He said, "We are a big brand and our brand not only includes our race team and drivers, and it is up to our marketing team to continue to make sure that the image and reputation is promoted and upheld by every one of our brand ambassadors, which includes our thousands of employees" (THE DRUM, 9/21).

'PROPER DISASTER': SKY SPORTS' James Galloway reported McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier described McLaren's three-year marriage with Honda as a "proper disaster" for the team's credibility. The Frenchman said that the team may not fully recover its "lost prestige" until '20. Boullier said, "When you look at the last three years it's been a proper disaster for us in terms of credibility and getting new sponsors. And then you have to take the long-term view: in the next five years I am absolutely sure that we will go back to where McLaren belongs. And with this bouncing back we get our credibility back and it will rebuild our sponsor portfolio. It might take two to three years" (SKY SPORTS, 9/21).

World Rugby named bathroom fixture manufacturer Toto an official sponsor of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. Toto is sponsoring the event for the first time and will hold activations in Japan ahead of Asia's first RWC. RWC 2019's commercial program now features a full inventory of six worldwide partners. Emirates, Heineken, Land Rover, Société Générale, DHL and Mastercard all confirmed in record time with record value. In addition to Toto, Canon will also be an official sponsor.

: World Rugby and Sports Travel and Hospitality announced the appointment of the global official travel agents that will deliver supporter tour packages for RWC 2019. The appointment of 21 agents from 13 nations and territories follows a selection process by STH. Details regarding travel packages, prices and on-sale dates will be announced by the OTAs in early '18, with agents eligible to be on sale from January (RWC 2019).

The Chinese Basketball Association named Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer its official timekeeper and watch partner for the '17-18 season, according to SINA. The agreement will see Tag Heuer "devote itself to the development of Chinese basketball" and promote the youth training cause through a "well-established incentive mechanism." Additionally, Tag Heuer will produce a CBA-themed watch under its Formula 1 series. The new deal will allow Tag Heuer to continue to run its basketball campaigns under the #DontCrackUnderPressure slogan (SINA, 9/20). 

NO HARD FEELINGS: In Beijing, Wang & Coco reported two years after suing the CBA, the move marks a "remarriage of sorts" for the league and Tag Heuer. In Sept. '15, the brand inked an exclusive timekeeper sponsorship deal from '15-17 with Infront Sports & Media. But two months later, Tag Heuer "discovered that branding for Swiss rival Tissot was appearing on some CBA tickets and marketing materials." Tag Heuer said in a statement at the time that Infront "had abruptly terminated the deal, and had given no reason." Tag Heuer "then announced it was suing the marketing agent in Beijing." Infront responded by announcing Tissot as the league's exclusive timekeeper. In February, Tag Heuer won its lawsuit against the CBA and was reportedly awarded around 1M yuan ($152,000) in damages. But "bygones appear to be bygones" (CAIXIN, 9/20).

Pro14 club Leinster and Bank of Ireland announced a five-year extension to their partnership. In addition to exclusive branding of all playing and training kits for the team, the partnership encompasses all Leinster rugby activity through grassroots community, school and club levels (IRISH TIMES, 9/20).

The Spanish Basketball League (ACB) named travel agency El Corte Inglés an official sponsor of the league and its official competitions from '17-20. El Corte Inglés became a sponsor of the ACB at the start of the '16-17 postseason "and has now decided to extend its deal for the next three seasons" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 9/21).

The Scottish Rugby Union decided not to renew its deal with Viagogo, its exclusive secondary ticketing partner, after complaints that the platform "is used by touts to inflate the price of tickets supplied directly from the governing body without first being offered to rugby fans." The SRU admitted that Viagogo was receiving an allocation of premium tickets that fans "were not allowed to purchase through the normal system" (RUNNING RUGBY, 9/19).

FIFA sponsor Coca-Cola teamed up with EA Sports to sign Alex Hunter as a brand ambassador in advance of the 2018 World Cup. Do not "bother trying to work out who Hunter plays for, he only exists as a virtual athlete in the FIFA 18 game." Hunter debuted on the virtual scene last year in FIFA 17 via "The Journey" narrative that allows game players to influence his football career (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 9/21).

The NFL Jacksonville Jaguars named wealth management company LGT Vestra US an official U.K. founding partner. The deal will see LGT Vestra US work in conjunction with the Jaguars through a variety of business-to-business activities, including the Jaguars' annual home game at Wembley Stadium each year. In addition to working together in a business capacity, the partnership will see the Jaguars and LGT Vestra US collaborate on community outreach projects (Jaguars).