Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 2

Marketing and Sponsorship

Geico, HSBC and Donnay have signed multiyear agreements with the revamped Champions Series as new corporate sponsors, the tennis circuit is expected to announce today.

The newly expanded and reformatted Champions Series will feature tennis stars Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and others in one-night tournaments in 12 cities nationwide this fall.

“The newly signed Champions Series deals have already accumulated to low seven figures annually,” according to Jon Venison, founding partner of the Champions Series. He added that additional partners were close to being signed; details on those deals were not available.

The Champions Series will feature the former tennis champions competing for ranking points and a bonus pool totaling $1 million that will be shared by the top three finishers at the conclusion of the five-week season.

The series is a New York-based tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30, created in 2005 by InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, which is co-owned and operated by former SFX executive Venison and by Courier, a former world No. 1 player.

Information on the venues, dates, player fields, tickets and television airings for the series will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Florida Panthers, striving to meet the needs of a longtime corporate partner, have sold the naming rights to the ice floor at their arena to automaker Lexus, the first deal of its kind in the NHL and only the second one in major league sports.

When the Panthers play their first 2011-12 preseason game in mid-September, the playing surface officially will be called Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center. The deal’s value is in the mid- to upper six figures annually, sources said.

The only other deal in the majors in which a team has sold naming rights to its playing surface is in Minneapolis, where the Vikings signed Mall of America in October 2009 to a three-year deal putting its name on the Metrodome field. That deal is reportedly worth seven figures annually.

In south Florida, the twist on traditional naming rights provides greater public exposure for a company that has been a founding partner and sponsor of the arena’s suite/club level since the facility opened in 1998. The extension moves Lexus’ assets from those premium spaces to the inner bowl, something company officials requested during negotiations, said Michael Yormark, president and chief operating officer for Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, the Panthers’ parent company.

“This is their third renewal, and Lexus was looking for something a bit different, the ‘next big idea,’” Yormark said. “They still have their [branded] parking lot deal for all events, but they challenged me to come up with something new. … For us, it created new inventory that we haven’t taken advantage of in the past.”

Lexus officials from the four local dealerships principally involved in the deal would not comment for this story.

Naming-rights deals for playing surfaces are rare in the majors, where leagues have restrictions on whether and how brands can be displayed on the field, court or ice:

• The NFL prohibits corporate logos of any kind on the field.

• NBA teams can display commercial brands on the hardwood if they are part of the facility’s name.

• MLB does not allow corporate logos on the field of play with the exception of the AstroTurf brand in foul territory at Rogers Centre in Toronto and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

• Major League Soccer allows corporate logos outside the white lines of play and on field-level video boards.

• NHL rules allow teams to sell four advertising positions on the ice. A space adjacent to the center circle can also be sold if the corporate brand is part of the building name.

The Lexus deal does not include in-ice exposure because the Panthers have already sold their four in-ice spots, to Bud Light, Dex Imaging, Ford and Gulfstream Park. The BankAtlantic Center name is painted near the center circle.

The renewal does give Lexus the first right to buy in-ice space when it becomes available, Yormark said.

For Panthers home games, the Lexus Rink brand will be spelled out front and center for hockey fans on a new permanent sign attached to the bottom of the center-hung scoreboard. Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center marks will also adorn the “lip” at the top of the dasherboards facing the seats in the lower bowl, in addition to the Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center name flashed on the traditional LED ribbon boards.

During home game broadcasts, Fox Sports Florida and WQAM radio announcers will reference the Lexus Rink, Yormark said.

The terms of the agreement stipulate that Lexus Rink signs will not be activated for concerts and other shows at the arena that do not use the ice floor, Panthers officials said. That means the Lexus brand will go dark in the bowl for roughly 150 dates when the scoreboard is raised to the rafters and its multiple car displays, a piece of activation carried over from the old deal, are removed from the concourses.

Naming-rights consultant Randy Bernstein sees what the Vikings and the Panthers did as a natural progression for naming rights. Colleges and minor league teams have been doing these deals for years, and it is not a stretch to see that trend migrate upward, Bernstein said.

In Minnesota, the Vikings are squeezing as much revenue as they can from a publicly owned stadium where they are a tenant. State law prohibits the stadium’s official name, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, from being changed, said Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. The Mall of America Field deal expires Feb. 28, 2012, soon after the team’s lease runs out at the Metrodome following the 2011 season. (A new Teflon roof is being installed to replace the one damaged from a December snowstorm and like the old roof will be adorned with the Mall of America logo).

“It is a unique opportunity for sports facilities, especially those that cannot officially change their name to include a corporate sponsor,” said Steve LaCroix, the Vikings’ vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer. “I would expect to see more of these [deals] in the future.”

An important issue to consider for doing these “sub-naming-rights” deals is the effect on the naming-rights deal for the facility itself, Bernstein said. BankAtlantic was aware of the Panthers’ deal with Lexus before it was signed, team officials said.

The NHL Players’ Association has signed a five-year extension with longtime apparel partner Reebok, but the manufacturer has given up exclusive licensing rights for apparel other than team jerseys and jersey replica T-shirts.

The NHLPA has signed separate licensing deals with manufacturers Knights Apparel, Old Time Hockey and Sogo T-shirts, and said the total value of its four partnerships is in the high seven-figure range. The new contracts go into effect July 1.

“The player apparel category has grown a lot in the last five years, and there is a tremendous demand for it,” said Adam Larry, director of licensing and associate counsel for the NHLPA. “The licensees we are bringing on board are looking at creative ways to use the personality rights to create new types of product.”

The shift also opens up new retail opportunities for player-branded product with mass-merchant retailers. Reebok’s NHL apparel is carried by Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s, and the NHL store in the United States, and Sports Chek, Pro Hockey Life and Jersey City in Canada. Knights Apparel will sell its player-branded goods in Wal-Mart, Target, Meijer, K-Mart, Costco and Sam’s Club stores, and Sogo is carried by Canadian retailers Rona and Canadian Tire as well as Wal-Mart.

Under the licensing deals — in which revenue is shared by manufacturers, the NHLPA and the NHL — manufacturers can feature player numbers, names and likenesses in apparel and headgear.

The NHLPA signed its first apparel and uniform deal with CCM hockey in 1995, and in 2005 Reebok acquired CCM. Keith Leach, Reebok’s director of merchandising, said the company’s apparel sales are dominated by team jerseys and jersey replica T-shirts, which resemble a player’s jersey in design, but are printed on a T-shirt. Leach declined to discuss revenue numbers but said that since the product launched in 2007, the replica T-shirts, which cost $29.99 as opposed to the jersey’s $179.99 price tag, have doubled in revenue each year.

“The jersey and [replica T-shirt] make up the biggest part of our business,” Leach said, “so that is the most important component of maintaining our portfolio moving forward.”

Leach said Reebok would continue to produce player-branded apparel other than the jerseys and replica T-shirts.

Donnie Hodge, president and COO of Knights Apparel, said his company regularly queried the NHLPA about obtaining licensing rights after it signed a separate apparel deal with the NHL in 2001. Knights Apparel, which also has apparel agreements with the NBA, National Basketball Players Association and the NCAA, manufactured T-shirts and other apparel using team branding in its deal with the NHL.

“The player name and number is an important piece, it’s a logical extension of our business,” said Hodge, who declined to comment on the projected revenue of the partnership but said it would be “significant business.”

Bob Magnuson, president of Old Time Sports, said the company will produce lifestyle apparel with the NHLPA rights. Nathan Saleh, president of the Montreal-based Elmau & Associates, which owns the Sogo brand, said his company will create apparel lines using high-definition imagery of players.

Stanley Cup playoff activation spending is up 30 percent this year, according to the NHL, with 13 of the league’s corporate partners running sweepstakes that award free tickets, products or VIP access to fans.

Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing, said the sweepstakes model is standard for the NHL’s two-month playoff period but that partners have increased their use of social media and access to the Stanley Cup for 2011.

“You’re looking at mid-April through June, and that’s a fairly decent period of time to execute a campaign,” Jennings said.

Bridgestone, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Starwood Hotels will award Stanley Cup Final tickets in contests that they are holding in the United States and Canada. Anheuser-Busch and Discover Card will award tickets to the finals to U.S. customers. Energizer, Hershey’s, Canadian Tire, Labatt, LG Electronics, Pepsi, Scotiabank and Visa will award finals tickets to Canadian customers.

Phil Pacsi, vice president of consumer marketing at Bridgestone, said that sweepstakes and ticket giveaways work well during the playoffs because fans’ increased engagement with the sport extends over several weeks.

“It’s a long season, and right now there is a heightened awareness of hockey,” Pacsi said. “We step up our advertising during the playoffs. There is a hockey frenzy.”

Pacsi said the playoffs represent Bridgestone’s second most important hockey property, behind the Winter Classic. This year, Bridgestone will award its Mark Messier Youth Leadership and NHL Leadership awards during Game 3 of the finals. For the first award, fans apply and vote online for a youth hockey player who exhibits leadership qualities.

New partner Discover Card also is focusing on youth hockey, running a sweepstakes on Facebook in which fans submit and vote on videos shot by youth hockey players. The winner receives a presentation during Game 2 of the finals and will spend a day with the Stanley Cup.

Pepsi’s Canadian campaign solicits the “best Stanley Cup playoff moment” from fans, and awards a guest appearance by the Cup at the winner’s house. Hershey’s will award a private Cup appearance based on UPC codes being submitted online.

Terry Lefton
Team Epic has won a three-month agency shootout to launch and stage the U.S. Tennis Association’s first tour aimed at increasing youth participation in the sport. The 20-market Smash Zone Tour will generate 45-50 event dates aimed at kids 10 and younger.

The 53-foot trailer, which unfolds to tennis courts downsized for youth play, will begin its tour in late May or early June in Atlanta and is a complement to the association’s ongoing youth participation initiatives, Quick Start and the Smash Zone at the U.S. Open. Since it is targeting a family crowd, the tour will stop at fairs and festivals, along with some retail environments and downtown locations, with some overlap at sites hosting the U.S. Open Series.

Darran Miner, USTA senior director of marketing, said the NGB’s sales staff is in the market with signage-laden sponsorship packages, including a title sponsorship in the mid-six figures. Miner said Team Epic won the assignment based on its engagement and sponsorship integration concepts. Team Epic Principal Mike Reisman said his agency’s experience working on youth brands like Nerf, Slim Jim and Mountain Dew also helped.

CAA Sports is in line to sell naming rights should the San Francisco 49ers get to build their new stadium.
GOLD RUSH: There’s more than a few hurdles to go, not the least of which is most of its funding and various government approvals, before the San Francisco 49ers can start building a proposed $937 million stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., where the team has had its corporate headquarters for some time. However, multiple sources tell us that CAA Sports has won an agency review to sell naming rights for the NFL team’s proposed new home, if and when the stadium seems a little more, er, concrete.

If this seems somewhat premature, remember that this is the year when we’ve already seen a stadium in Los Angeles without a team, blueprints or government approvals get a naming-rights deal. At least the proposed 49ers venue has an NFL tenant with which to start, and $114 million in funding. Should the venue become a reality, the assignment would make the first bona-fide naming-rights sale for CAA, which earlier sold deals that packaged everything but naming rights with Madison Square Garden for JPMorgan Chase, and for Bank of America with the New York Yankees, a deal that cratered after the economy and the banking industry did the same.

It’s assumed that the naming-rights partner would come from the riches in Silicon Valley, but even those heady dollars won’t bridge the gap between the $114 million in public funds allocated by voters for the new stadium and the $937 million it is projected to cost.

The champion Giants showed surprising sales strength.
UNIFORM GROWTH: Ever sanguine, MLB licensing chief Howard Smith sees room for growth in licensed product sales, even coming in what he said was MLB’s top year ever. “I haven’t planned a year down yet,” he said. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t anniversary those numbers and even grow some this year,” said Smith, who’s headed MLB’s licensing program since 1998.

Accounting for the continued growth is a headwear business that remains strong, new batting practice jerseys from Majestic, strong video game sales and a 2010 postseason that Smith said is still echoing and was one of the top five ever — which was especially surprising since the World Series champion San Francisco Giants were projected as one of the weaker “if wins” at the start of last year’s postseason. &;

Terry Lefton can be reached at

Camilo Villegas is going to need a bigger shirt to carry all of these logos.

Villegas, a PGA Tour star from Colombia, has most recently been featured in an ad for State Street Global Advisors.
The PGA Tour star from Colombia with the flowing hair and the chiseled physique is attracting more than the female members of the gallery these days.

It’s hard to watch a tour event on TV without seeing Villegas, 29, pitching something.

The most recent ad to feature Villegas is a 30-second spot for State Street Global Advisors, whose SPDR brand ETF products fit nicely with Villegas’ nickname, “Spider-Man,” so called because of the way he crouches to read putts. ETF products are like mutual funds that trade throughout the day on stock exchanges.

Villegas also is in a new MasterCard ad, new TaylorMade Burner spots, and multiple PGA Tour branding spots that promote the “New Breed vs. the Establishment” and the Players Championship in May.

The guy is everywhere, including South America, where he’s front and center for Brazilian-based Itaú Bank, the 12th-largest bank in the world. Signs in the Miami airport for the bank describe Villegas as “a global Latin American.”

“As a newcomer to golf, we liked Camilo for several reasons,” said Gary MacDonald, State Street’s global head of ETF marketing. “We’re a global company and we actively market all over the world, and he’s a global figure in golf.”

Villegas’ shirt now includes Café de Colombia, a federation of coffee growers in his home country, on one side of his chest, CVS Caremark on the other, MasterCard on his collar and SPDR on his left sleeve.
TaylorMade Burner is on his hat. Villegas switched from Cobra to TaylorMade this year.

These deals plus others like Rolex, Bavaria Beer and J. Lindeberg put Villegas’ off-course earnings in the low seven figures annually, according to industry experts. The three-time PGA Tour winner made more than $3 million in prize money in 2010 and occasionally plays overseas events that pay a guaranteed appearance fee, all of which has his gross income approaching $10 million a year. He’s believed to be among the top 10 best-paid golfers in the world, industry analysts said.

“There are a lot of great players on the PGA Tour,” said Clarke Jones, senior vice president and global director of golf clients at IMG, which represents Villegas. “Camilo has done a great job of really standing out from the crowd. He’s a little different than the rest. He’s got that charisma, that flair that’s hard to define.”

The SPDR relationship was announced earlier this year, and two spots debuted last week using the brand’s tag line, “Precise in a world that isn’t.” State Street’s ad agency, The Gate Worldwide, came up with the creative.

SPDR’s yearlong ad buy on NBC’s golf broadcasts came about from a collaboration between the financial services firm and the tour.

SPDR’s parent company, State Street, also has a sponsorship with the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and a deal with the Big East Conference basketball tournament in New York, but this is the first time the SPDR ETF products have been marketed through golf. MacDonald said his company is working with tour events to buy hospitality packages this season as well. The multiyear agreement with Villegas indicates that SPDR will be around for a while.

“It’s a great fit for State Street,” said Jay Monahan, the tour’s senior vice president of business development. “We really encourage companies to invest in tour media and activate with [the players]. The Spider funds made for a natural connection.”

The tour is best known for selling title sponsorships and official marketing partnerships, but driving business to media partners and the players is the “third leg of what we do,” Monahan said.

Caroline Wozniacki has reached a deal to endorse European cosmetics and beauty care brand Oriflame, becoming the most lucrative off-court agreement for the world’s No. 1 player.

The two-year deal, which is scheduled to be unveiled today, is believed to be worth in the low seven figures annually.

The endorsement is global, though Oriflame will likely use Wozniacki largely in Europe. Wozniacki is from Denmark.

Oriflame is already an official partner of the WTA in Europe, Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and Africa.

A PowerPoint presentation prepared by her agent, Lagardère Unlimited, states, “Many opportunities exist to extend Caroline’s association with Oriflame (make-up, fragrance, jewelry, hair care, etc.), as she has become well-known for matching her nails with her stylish tennis outfits, prefers to wear jewelry on the court, and is recognized for her off-court fashion and hair styles.”

Wozniacki will appear in Oriflame advertising campaigns and catalogs. She will endorse its cosmetics, nutritional wellness products and jewelry. The deal will move Wozniacki close to $10 million annually in earnings, with other endorsements including Rolex, Adidas and Sony Ericsson. The deal also suggests Oriflame will exercise its option to extend its WTA deal when it comes up this summer.

“We are excited to work with Caroline to enhance our WTA partnership,” said Michael Cervell, senior vice president of global direct sales at Oriflame, in a press release set to be released today.