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Volume 10 No. 22

Marketing and Sponsorship

Organizers of the Six Nations Championship "have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown" by having to negotiate a sponsorship deal worth £4M ($5.3M) a year less than they were "initially offered" after their approach to 150 companies for a £100M ($132.6M) agreement over six years "drew a blank," according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. Organizers reportedly rejected a £15M ($19.9M)-a-year offer from RBS, which has sponsored the tournament for the past 14 years, "in the belief that they could strike a more lucrative deal elsewhere." However, a year of negotiations with potential top-line sponsors "have proved fruitless and the Six Nations has had little choice but to go back to the bank and try to secure a deal." As "the only player left in the market, RBS has played hardball" and when negotiations reopened, it offered £9M ($11.9M) a year. That figure "is understood to have now risen" to about £11M ($14.6M). The organizers' hopes of "securing a last-minute alternative sponsor appear unlikely." The Six Nations reportedly received an offer of £100M from HSBC, "but the bid was turned down because it was for the combined rights" to both the tournament and the British & Irish Lions. It is an "embarrassing state of affairs" for the Six Nations, whose CEO, John Feehan, said in January that he "felt confident of finding a company" willing to pay £17M ($22.6M) or more per year (LONDON TIMES, 10/12).

Ben Stokes was dropped by New Balance, "hours after he issued an apology" to TV personality Katie Price and her son for "impersonating them in a video that was published last month," according to Sam Dean of the London TELEGRAPH. The news that the 26-year-old’s contract with NB was terminated "emerged shortly after Stokes spoke publicly for the first time since he was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm" in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September. The England vice-captain’s deal with NB, which is also the kit manufacturer of the England team, is understood to have been worth around £200,000 ($265,000) per year. In a statement posted on Twitter, Stokes said that he was "so sorry" and added that it was "absolutely not my intention to offend" Price or her son Harvey. He added, "Earlier this year I was shown a clip of Harvey being asked on ‘Loose Women’ how he responds to internet trolls. ... I loved Harvey’s directness with his response. ... I foolishly attempted to copy the clip after I saw it a few times. I should never have done this and I am so sorry." The loss of his NB contract "is the latest twist in a saga that began with Stokes being placed under investigation" by police after he was arrested in Bristol (TELEGRAPH, 10/11). The PA reported NB said in a statement, "New Balance does not condone behaviour by our global athletes that does not match our brand culture and values, and therefore we have ended our relationship with Ben Stokes, effective October 11, 2017. We will not provide further comment" (PA, 10/11).

Australian footballer Tim Cahill "has come under fire" after using his World Cup qualifying playoff-winning goal celebration to "promote his personal sponsor," according to the London INDEPENDENT. The former Everton striker scored both goals as Australia "squeezed past Syria on Tuesday to keep the Socceroos' World Cup dreams alive." Cahill, "famed for his iconic boxing the corner flag celebration, ditched his usual post-goal amateur dramatics" in favor of running around the field "with his arms outstretched like a plane." Following his "last gasp extra-time winner," Cahill made a T symbol above his head toward the crowd. Fans "noticed a change before travel outlet TripADeal thanked their brand ambassador in an Instagram post" shortly after the game. The post has since been deleted (INDEPENDENT, 10/12).

Source: London INDEPENDENT
In London, Nic White reported Cahill responded to TripADeal's post with a "series of emojis including a plane symbol, and later plugged the brand on his own feed." He wrote, "Another chapter written and plenty more to come. Amazing team performance and really proud of everyone tonight, team, staff and fans." Underneath the "innocuous message next to a series of photos from the game," he tagged @tripadeal followed by four plane symbols. Fans speculated his plane celebration "was another TripADeal plug as it was the first time he performed it, and the obvious connection to a travel site." Some fans took to social media "to accuse Cahill of only caring about money and dishonouring his uniform" (DAILY MAIL, 10/12). 'A SHAME': In Sydney, Tyson Otto commented even for "the greatest Socceroo of them all, this is not OK." His "age-defying performance in harassing Syrian players to force turnovers, constantly making runs off the ball when his teammates were cooked in extra-time" and then seizing his moments with that "freakish ability to score when it matters was everything that makes the No. 4 Socceroos shirt one of the most revered strips in Australian sport." It is "a shame then that he chose to tarnish that same shirt after heading the Socceroos ahead with his second goal in the 109th minute" (NEWS.COM.AU, 10/12). In Sydney, Jenna Clarke wrote how do you "celebrate a major milestone for yourself and your country?" If you are Cahill, "you use your moment of glory to plug your Byron Bay-based travel agent." Calls and emails by Fairfax Media to the "Contiki-for-Yuppies-type business" went unanswered on Thursday. The company offered National Rugby League player Jarryd Hayne A$400,000 to stay with the Gold Coast Titans earlier this year (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/12).

Cricket Australia announced airline Qantas will be the shirt partner of the Australian men's cricket team for the '17-18 season. The deal marks the first time a commercial partner will have branding rights across the shirts of all three formats of men's int'l cricket in Australia. The creation of a shirt partner category forms a major part of the changes made to CA's commercial partnership model (CA). 

Emirates said that it "remains committed" to Team New Zealand. Airline President Tim Clark said the it was a "no brainer" to continue its sponsorship of the America's Cup holders. While the commercial deal "had not been ironed out, the event was attracting a growing audience and that worked well for Emirates." Clark: "The notion that the team should continue to be sponsored by Emirates is a classic no brainer -- we will continue to do that" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 10/11).

Bayern Munich announced Coca-Cola will continue as an official club partner for three more years. The agreement incorporates a premium advertising presence and promotional events at the Allianz Arena (Bayern Munich). 

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) and Nike announced an extension of their long-term partnership through '24. The partnership, in its 20th year, will see Nike continue to design and supply apparel to the FPF's 25 football, futsal and beach football teams, as well as support the women's game (Nike). 

Serie A side Udinese extended and expanded its commercial agreement with Acqua Dolomia for three years. The water brand will become the official water partner of the club through the '19-20 season, in a deal which will see the company’s logo featured on pitchside LED bands during home matches, on backdrop advertising boards in official press conferences and across the team’s digital channels (SOCCEREX, 10/12).

Pro14 side Dragons announced GOS Engineering as a partner. The deal will see the company's logo featured on the Dragons' home and away shorts for the next two seasons. The team also announced Industrial Automation & Control Ltd. expanded its sponsorship with the club. The company will be featured on the right shoulder of the Dragons' home and away shirts (Dragons). 

Liverpool sponsor Standard Chartered launched a unique audio recording of a matchday at Anfield to promote World Sight Day. The campaign was created by Octagon to to raise awareness for Seeing is Believing, the bank's global community initiative tackling avoidable blindness. It was "recorded using special microphones shaped like human ears" (THE DRUM, 10/12).