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Volume 7 No. 149

Marketing and Sponsorship

Paddy Power created an ad starring Rhodri Giggs, a non-league football manager whose brother is former ManU player Ryan, that "sends up the infamous affair" between Ryan and Rhodri' ex-wife, Natasha, according to Simon Gwynn of CAMPAIGN LIVE. The spot, "Loyalty is dead," promotes Paddy’s Rewards Club and features Rhodri "musing on the nature of loyalty," eventually concluding, "Loyalty gets you nowhere. Live for rewards instead. That's why I'm the Paddy Rewards Club ambassador." It was created by Chime. The creatives are Christine Turner, Kevin Master, Chris Willis and Paul Kocur, and it was directed by Peter Cattaneo through Academy. The media agency is MediaCom. The ad aired on TV this weekend during programming including Man City vs. Chelsea and Italy vs. Wales in the Six Nations on ITV. The eight-year affair between Ryan and Natasha was exposed in '11, leading to the end of her marriage to Rhodri. The spot implies Rhodri has "adopted a more philosophical view" (CAMPAIGN LIVE, 2/8).

Rolex signed on as presenting partner and official timepiece sponsor of SailGP, the startup global sailing tour founded by Oracle Exec Chair Larry Ellison and five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts. The tour’s first race is Friday in Sydney Harbor, and will continue in San Francisco in May, N.Y. in June and the U.K. in August before a $1M championship race in France in September. Rolex gets camera-visible signage and timepieces at all events and on each boat. Other than describing the deal as “long-term,” terms were not disclosed. Rolex has been a regular sailing sponsor over the years and currently sponsors the World Sailor of the Year Award.

Separately, SailGP announced new distribution deals Sunday evening: BT Sport will have all rights in the U.K. and Ireland, while Canal+ will cover France. In Japan, DAZN agreed to a mixture of live and delayed coverage. Tencent’s qq.com, Tencent Sports, News, Video and Penguin mobile apps will all provide Mandarin-language coverage in China. A U.S. distributor has not yet been identified.

In the multiyear pact, Coca-Cola gets exclusivity with the Overwatch World Cup.
Photo: ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

Coca-Cola signed an expansive deal with Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues to become the official non-alcoholic beverage of Overwatch League and all other Overwatch properties. It is the first OWL sponsorship deal that takes full advantage of the game developer's total control over the game's intellectual property. In the multiyear pact, Coca-Cola gets exclusivity with all 20 OWL teams, the Overwatch Contenders league, the open division, the Overwatch World Cup, the annual BlizzCon and collegiate events. “When we showed them the data points about how the people who play Overwatch are also the fans of the esports, what we’re doing at the league level, their perspective became, ‘If we really want to do this the right way, then let’s be a partner of the entire ecosystem,’” said Activision Blizzard Esports CRO Brandon Snow. He declined to disclose terms, but a source said it covers three years. Coca-Cola products will be served at OWL events when Activision Blizzard controls the venue, and league officials will attempt to facilitate a pouring deal between Coca-Cola and any other venue that may host games if possible. The league is experimenting with running some games at teams’ local venues this year, and teams have said they are planning to run full home schedules in '20. Details of how Coca-Cola will promote its rights will be disclosed in the coming weeks, Snow said. Coca-Cola Classic will be the primary brand focus point, but the deal allows for other products to be featured. Coca-Cola Senior VP/Strategic Marketing Geoff Cottrill oversaw negotiations, while Snow led talks for Activision Blizzard. Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, has served as a director for Coca-Cola since '12.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said that the game's revenue is "under threat."
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Damning new research revealed how the National Rugby League’s brand has been "destroyed by an off-season of shame that threatens the loss of millions of dollars in revenue and sponsorship," according to Phil Rothfield of THE AUSTRALIAN. A confidential report used to measure the brand health of the game was tabled at Wednesday’s independent commission meeting. The game’s NPS rating (Net Promoter Score which measures customer loyalty) "slumped" from +3% after the grand final in October to -7% in January "on the back of the player scandals." At the same time, the Australian Football League has a +12% score. A "concerned" NRL CEO Todd Greeberg said that the game's revenue "is under threat." He said, "Once the brand is damaged it becomes much more difficult to attract sponsors and that results in less revenue for the game. That’s pretty disappointing when you consider the players promised to be genuine partners in the game. We will work with them and the clubs now to restore confidence in the game and our brand." The NRL began "conducting regular research on supporter loyalty" using an NPS rating a few seasons ago. It is calculated based on one question: "how likely are you to recommend our product to a friend?" A sports marketing analyst said that a 10% switch in an NPS rating in three months was "almost unheard of." The analyst said, "That's a massive swing. Normally you might see a variance of 1 or 2 percent." That the AFL image rates "so highly" on the eve of the NRL season is likely to "sway potential corporate backers from rugby league to its rival" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/9).

Haas Formula 1 renewed its partnership with Danish menswear brand Jack & Jones. The company's logo will be featured on the VF-19, team personnel uniforms and driver race overalls (Rich Energy Haas F1). 

Alfa Romeo Racing announced EGV1 as its official teamwear partner. The company will supply Alfa Romeo with team gear which will be worn at racetracks by the team's drivers and members. EGV1 will also introduce an e-commerce platform where fans can purchase replica items and team merchandise (Alfa Romeo). 

Indian badminton player P.V. Sindhu signed India’s "biggest sports sponsorship deal for a non-cricketer," and the "biggest for any female athlete in the country." Sindhu, the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Silver Medal, signed a four-year deal with Chinese premium sports brand Li-Ning. The deal, "pegged" at Rs 48 crore ($7.2M), includes sponsorship money and Rs 5 crore ($750,000) in equipment supply until '23 (ECONOMIC TIMES, 2/8).

Australian property website realestate.com.au announced further investment in the Australian Football League, taking on a new deal as the official "online property partner" for the '19 season. The website will also be the naming rights partner for the AFLX 2019, the shortened variation of Australian rules (AD NEWS, 2/7).

UFC and AirAsia announced the continuation of their partnership (AirAsia). 

Philippines-based telecom Globe and southeast Asian esports organization Mineski announced a partnership in the form of Team Liyab, a professional esports organization fielding teams in League of Legends, Hearthstone and Arena of Valor (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 2/8).
For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.