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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

LRMR Marketing & Branding has struck a promotional deal with lip balm brand Carmex to run a fan contest on, a template for future digital-only marketing deals between the Miami Heat superstar and smaller companies.

LeBron James’ agency is signing digital deals that don’t require his personal involvement in promotion.
In the Carmex pact, fans are encouraged to “Share Your Game,” writing on how the product aids them in their daily lives. The promotion, running until April, carries a heavy social media component, as those fan-submitted entries are also distributed on Twitter and Facebook. Fans are then eligible for a variety of weekly prizes, including and gift cards and cash. A $4,000 grand prize, given as a cashier’s check, is touted as something that “can be used for airfare to Miami, hotel and game tickets.”

James, a longtime user of Carmex, approved the deal, but he is not personally involved in the promotional effort. LRMR is in the midst of signing several similar marketing deals around that carry a far lower price tag than a traditional multimillion-dollar endorsement pact based around James himself.

“This is the kind of deal that not only makes sense for a smaller company like Carmex, but also to create a two-way conversation with the fan,” said Maverick Carter, LRMR chief executive. “We think this is a different kind of strategy that is going to be very important for us going forward.”

The value of the deal was not revealed, but Carmex is spending a six-figure sum on the effort, according to industry sources.

Lip balm brand Carmex is running a fan contest on
The digital-only marketing concept has been in the works for many months, predating LRMR’s formal alignment with Fenway Sports Management that was announced in April.

But more recently, the Boston agency, which has done extensive work on its own within digitally based sports marketing, has aided LRMR in refining and developing the effort.
Carmex became interested in working with James in some capacity after discovering that not only is he a regular user of the product, but he also makes it a standard part of a his pregame routine — something that is most widely known for his powder toss.

“We knew that we wanted to be aligned with LeBron somehow given his use of Carmex,” said Patrick Hodgdon, community specialist for Minneapolis-based Bolin Marketing, which works with Carmex on their promotional outreach. “So we were very pleased to have the opportunity to get in at this smaller level. It’s sort of a classic crawl, walk, run approach where we get started at this level and try to build from there.”

Terry Lefton
Having amassed a Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star Game selections and four NBA titles during his years in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal is rightfully more celebrated as a pro than a collegiate ballplayer. Lest we forget, though, in his three years at LSU, he made Tigers fans forget about football — at least after bowl season.

Shaq was a two-time All-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year, and he received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as the NCAA’s top hoopster in 1991. He left LSU to go pro before his senior year but returned to get a B.A. With those kinds of collegiate credentials, maybe it’s appropriate that he’s one of the new trio of basketballers who will be featured in a “Journey to Comfort” campaign for the Dove Men+Care personal products line that will make its debut in time for March Madness next year.

Shaq will be making what we believe is his first post-retirement endorsement for the Unilever brand by appearing in the 19-month-old “Journey” TV and Web campaign. Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo and Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash also will be new participants in the campaign, though one source told us Nash’s deal is less solid than the other two.

Last year, Unilever complemented its NCAA corporate sponsorship rights with a March Madness “Journey to Comfort” campaign that included Magic Johnson, Georgetown coach John Thompson III and former Duke star Bobby Hurley. Shaq, Izzo and Nash would join a “Journey” athlete roster that also includes ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, and MLBers Joe Girardi and Andy Pettitte. Without attributing directly to the “Journey to Comfort” creative work, Rob Candelino, Unilever marketing director of personal wash, U.S., told SportsBusiness Journal last month that since its launch, the line has exceeded expectations in terms of trial, market share, brand equity and sales.

Coors Light and Molson Canadian share the spotlight in this NHL-themed display at a U.S. Wal-Mart.
SUDS ’N SKATES: Don’t try to tell us that beer isn’t as endemic a sponsorship category in sports as footwear and athletic equipment. We’ve been at this craft long enough that we recall when tubs of free beer in iced cans were as common in NHL locker rooms as towels and Bengay. When the NHL announced its nearly $400 million sponsorship deal with MillerCoors (U.S.) and Molson Coors (Canada) earlier this year, MillerCoors CMO Andy England noted that hockey fans are the biggest per capita beer consumers of any major sports property.

One of the intriguing things was which brands would get the benefit of the sponsorship.

Molson Coors, now unfettered since the lawsuit from incumbent Anheuser-Busch is over, is moving forward north of the border, where Molson Canadian is the No. 1 brand and Coors Light is No. 3. Both brands are using the NHL as a marketing platform, and Molson Export also gets the nod in Quebec.

Molson Coors has exclusives in Canada with the NHL teams in Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Molson Canadian is taking the lead at the club level, in terms of arena signs, promotions and media, but both brands will activate heavily in Canada around events like the Winter Classic, the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Having the NHL [rights] is opening up a lot of new doors,” said Pat McEleney, Molson Coors’ senior director of sports and entertainment. “We can now leverage across the country with the NHL.”

In the U.S., No. 2 Coors Light is about 30 times bigger than Molson, but the NHL is Molson’s only U.S. sports property, so it could look similar in terms of retail support, depending on the market, with the Northeast and Great Lakes regions getting a lot of support. At this season’s Winter Classic in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, Molson Canadian will take the lead, with signs on and around the ice, while Coors Light will be the brand running spots on NBC’s broadcast of the Jan. 2 outdoor game.

Coors Light will carry much of the media weight for the postseason in the U.S., but both brands will run promos, with Coors Light giving away trips to the Stanley Cup Final and Molson Canadian dangling getaways to the June NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

“Two months in and we’ve already seen incremental lifts in display and sales on Molson,” said Ryan Luckey, MillerCoors director of sports and entertainment marketing.

THE TIFFANY OF LICENSED MERCH: We’ll never confuse Tiffany’s gilded offerings with those from a licensed product manufacturer like WinCraft. Still, we are noticing that Tiffany is offering an increasing selection of licensed and co-branded items as it signs more deals with sports properties. Being associated with life’s memorable moments is clearly the endgame. However, every new association seems to bring with it another section of co-branded Tiffany sports products for properties for which Tiffany also makes championship trophies and rings.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be known for licensed products,” said a laughing Tom O’Rourke, vice president of business sales for Tiffany & Co., “but they fit nicely with the relationships we’ve established in sports.”

A recent tie-in with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has Tiffany making the Gold Pass given to those contributing $10,000 or more annually to the NGB. There also, however, will be 12 items in Tiffany’s forthcoming U.S. Ski and Snowboard retail collection, including silver cufflinks, charms, bracelets and barware, ranging from $50 to $500.

Tiffany merchandise marked the Giants’ Series victory.
A selection of San Francisco Giants’ championship items and New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl champion items from past years were top sellers.

“We’re about recognizing and celebrating important milestones, whether that’s an anniversary, a baby or a championship,” O’Rourke said. “Sports help to cement that relationship.”

COMINGS & GOINGS: Former MLB Properties chief Rick White is back in sports licensing as an equity partner and principal at Strategic Marketing Affiliates, an Indianapolis-based licensing agency representing more than 230 colleges and universities, mostly smaller schools but a range from universities as renowned as Butler and as obscure as the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. White, who will be a co-principal with SMA Chief Executive Bob Bernard, said he’s looking to grow SMA’s licensing business outside of the collegiate space and in related areas like sponsorship and consulting. “SMA has developed a competency in licensing, so now it’s about how far we can take that demonstrated expertise in IP and extend it,” White said. … Alex Gomez is moving to Media Ventures Group, New York, as a vice president. He’d been with Van Wagner Sports since 2003. … Jim Donofrio is now with NBC Sports in a sales and marketing role after a stint with CSE, where he’d worked with Mark Lazarus, now NBC Sports Group chairman.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

While walking through Columbus Circle to the finish line of Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon, I saw two women holding large signs for, an advertising website for shoemaker Mizuno. Michelle Doti Taylor, director of business development and strategic partnerships for the New York Road Runners, approached the two and asked them to leave the area. Asics, not Mizuno, owns the race’s footwear and apparel categories, a deal valued at seven figures annually by sources.

“I’m sure they will come back as soon as we leave,” Taylor admitted. “Columbus Circle is always a spot for ambush marketing.”

A New York Road Runners exec ran off the holder of this sign, advertising a website for marathon non-sponsor Mizuno.

Ambush, or “guerrilla,” marketing is a major concern for the New York Road Runners at its marquee event, which this year attracted approximately 2 million spectators and 47,000 participants. Unlike a stadium or arena, a 26.2-mile race course is nearly impossible to control from a branding perspective. That doesn’t stop the NYRR from trying.

Seven years ago it formed an ambush team to bounce unofficial advertisers and retailers from the course. The team is now 20 strong and, according to NYRR reps, includes ex-law enforcement officials. They sweep the course the morning of the race and clip down unlicensed signs, and then radio in any on-course ambushers to police officers and volunteers during the event.

“We are very protective of the rights of our partners,” said Ann Wells Crandall, NYRR vice president of business development and strategic partnerships. “But we’re not going to get everybody. We pick our battles.”

NYRR reps said the group has legal rights to remove any signs or structures along the race course that are not listed on the Street Activity Permitting Office (SAPO) permit it signs with the city. City officials did not return calls for comment. Taylor said volunteers and course marshals are instructed to ask pamphleteers and canvassers to leave the course. If they don’t, they call the ambush team to approach the offenders. Taylor admitted the team cannot physically remove offenders, but that the team provides “more of a presence” than volunteers.

2011 NYC Marathon:
Industry finishers

Nearly 47,000 runners completed the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, and the sports industry had its fair share. Here are some of them:

Kiwan Anderson  
Omega Watches events manager 3:58:01
Tim Bezbatchenko  
MLS director of player relations and competition 3:40:08
Jared Cooper  
Sports Power Weekends founder/CEO 4:38
Sean Dennison  
MLS/SUM director of corporatecommunications 5:18:50
A.J. Faxel  
ANC Sports Enterprises project manager 3:58
Brennan Feldhausen  
Baltimore Orioles account manager, corporate sales 2:47:21
Matt Higgins  
New York Jets EVP/business operations 5:08
Brad Jones  
Atlanta Braves director of partnership services 3:55
Denise Kitchel  
IMRE Sports VP/marketing and client relations 4:26:42
Reba Koppelman  
Baltimore Ravens assistant controller 3:49:50
Heather Krug  
Rogers & Cowan EVP/consumer, entertainment and sports  
Eric Liebler  
ProCamps Worldwide senior VP Unofficial 4:56 (from my watch)
Brad Ludden  
First Descents founder and CEO 4:46
Chris Marciani  
MLB VP/national sales 3:36
Michael Patent  
AEG Global Partnerships VP 2:50
Mark Plutzer  
MLB Advanced Media VP/ticketing 4:13
Dave Reeder  
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment account executive, partnership marketing and media sales 5:12:09
Luis Rodriguez  
SUM account executive, business development 4:56:23
Adam Schwartz  
Former NHL PR manager (now a sixth-grade teacher) 3:53:42
Eric Smallwood  
Front Row Marketing Services SVP 4:25:45
Matt Wikstrom  
Wasserman Media Group VP/global sales and business development 2:52.5
David Wright  
SUM VP/global sponsorship 3:36:31

Crandall said the NYRR has previously confronted the Brazil Tourism Board and technology company ILX for ambush marketing along the course. A source familiar with the race said Nike and Pepsi also organize non-official marketing pushes each year.

Vicki Wilkens, division brand marketing manager for Mizuno USA, said guerrilla marketing is commonplace within the athletic shoe industry. This year Mizuno stationed 26 reps at strategic areas along the route to promote the new Wave Rider 15 shoe with signs and stickers, and the company also purchased space inside the marathon expo at the Javits Center in midtown. She declined to discuss her budget for the event, but said it was significantly smaller than the seven-figure spending by Asics, the official partner.

“We have to be smarter with how we market,” Wilkens said. “We’re trying to build buzz around a new product, and you don’t need to be a title sponsor to do that.”

I walked a two-mile stretch along 4th and Lafayette avenues, where race officials built up an activation zone for new partner Motorola, which promoted its new MotoActv fitness monitor with a band in downtown Brooklyn. I did not see any major brands attempting ambush marketing there, but I did see an abundance of local restaurants and cafes advertising to spectators, even a number of school bake sales. Taylor said the ambush team leaves the locals alone.

The marathon’s major brands all boasted spectator-driven activation in Brooklyn, with Dunkin’ Donuts distributing fleece beanies, Grana Padano Cheese and Poland Spring handing out thunder sticks, Time Warner Cable giving out customizable cheer signs, and Nissan giving away paper noisemakers advertising the Leaf. Title sponsor ING led the swag bucket with its annual offering of orange sunglasses and cowbells, as well as caps, gloves and vuvuzelas, perhaps to the chagrin of the neighbors.

In my opinion, the top activation along the route again belonged to Asics, which for the second year positioned JumboTrons along the course as part of its “Support Your Marathoner” campaign. Just like last year, friends and families of runners uploaded inspirational messages online before the race. This year they also could upload videos. As a runner approached the JumboTron, his bib number tripped a signal which played the video or message. Hundreds of runners stopped at the station in Brooklyn to watch their individual message appear on screen, which also showed short, 15-second Asics ads.

According to Crandall, more than 20,000 messages were uploaded. The JumboTron campaign was part of a 30 percent increase in activation spending by Asics, and the company purchased ads on buses, in Times Square and in the Columbus Circle subway station, where a 60-foot video wall display showed athlete Ryan Hall running at marathon pace.

Gary Slayton, Asics’ vice president of emerging business, said this year the company spent twice as much on its activation for the race than the rights fee, which is in the seven figures. The company also had a spot in the expo, though Slayton said branding and not expo sales is the primary focus.

“Is this a big moneymaker? No,” he said. “But when you play in this game you have to get on a big stage.”

Electronics maker Timex has a different approach, using the event and the pre-race expo to jump-start sales for new products. This year Timex sold approximately 500 of its GPS Ironman Run Trainer watches at the expo.

“We try to get the product on the key influencers in running communities,” said Keith Meyer, manager of event marketing for Timex.

It’s been nine years since Dutch bank ING became the race’s first title sponsor, and the company is in the first year of a three-year renewal. Ann Glover, chief marketing officer for ING Americas, said the marathon is the company’s biggest event platform, and the bank boasts a full schedule of investment banking meetings and functions during race week. It also receives 1,000 entries in the race for employees and clients. Glover declined to say whether the bank would renew the property after 2013.

NYRR hopes to push that partnership further, as the seven-figure spending and the connections within global finance have undoubtedly helped the race grow.

“There’s a reason we make sure people call it the ING New York City Marathon,” Crandall said.

Staff writer Fred Dreier covers hockey, soccer and endurance sports for SportsBusiness Journal. Though he has never competed in the ING New York City Marathon, he has completed four marathons.

Chip Ganassi Racing has secured the support necessary to keep its four Izod IndyCar Series teams running in 2012, signing health care company Novo Nordisk to a full primary sponsorship of the team’s No. 83 car.

The multiyear agreement extends Novo Nordisk’s relationship with Ganassi and driver Charlie Kimball. Specific terms of the agreement weren’t available, but full-season IndyCar sponsorships are typically worth $4 million to $6 million annually.

Novo Nordisk signed a one-year agreement with Kimball, a diabetic, for this year’s IndyCar season and used him to promote its line of prefilled insulin products, Levemir and NovoLog. The Danish company supported its sponsorship of Kimball by activating at track, advertising during IndyCar race broadcasts on Versus and buying in-car camera time during ABC race broadcasts.

Ambre Morley, Novo Nordisk’s associate

Novo Nordisk will return as a full primary sponsor of the No. 83 car driven by Charlie Kimball.
director of product communications, said the collective efforts were “immensely successful” in raising awareness about the company’s products.

“In the diabetes community, Charlie developed a fan base that went beyond our expectations,” Morley said. “It was his first year, and he was just getting started, but we’re glad to be a part of something we think can be really big.”

Novo Nordisk developed two programs to raise awareness about diabetes.

The “Drive The Switch” program encouraged people who took insulin or knew someone who took insulin to take a pledge that they would talk to their doctor about prefilled insulin options. The company took a show car to nine IndyCar races in 2011 and collected 11,000 signatures from race attendees who took the pledge. It also created a stand-alone website where people could make a similar pledge.

The “Race With Insulin” campaign used Twitter and a blog run by Kimball to raise awareness about the company’s products.

“It’s not just Charlie on the track,” Morley said. “It’s not just Charlie off the track. It’s him telling his story. He’s doing something no other racer is doing, and that’s racing with diabetes.”

Morley said Novo Nordisk is evaluating how it will activate in 2012. She said it most likely will continue to activate at track with its “Drive The Switch” program, but she was unsure whether it would support that effort with TV advertising.

Ganassi Racing added two cars this season, and Novo Nordisk was the only deal up for renewal. Its decision to return alongside Service Central and Target, which sponsors two cars, ensures the team will field four cars again in 2012.

“There’s stability in our organization now with the four cars,” said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We stepped out there with two new entries this season, and partners like Novo Nordisk want to continue to grow with us.”

The sponsor of the PGA Tour’s mobile health and fitness center has decided not to renew its official marketing partnership.

DePuy Mitek, the company that’s the orthopaedic sports medicine division of Johnson & Johnson, had been featured on the side of the tour’s health and fitness trailer since striking a sponsorship deal in 2009.

This year was the last year of the three-year deal, and DePuy Mitek has elected not to return.

The company’s specific spending in golf was not released, but industry insiders said PGA Tour official marketing partnerships go for $2 million to $3 million a year, and the cost to maintain the mobile fitness center was believed to be another $3 million or so.

Johnson & Johnson is expected to redirect that marketing budget to its new sponsorship with FIFA for the 2014 World Cup. J&J is the World Cup’s official health care sponsor.

The tour also learned earlier this month that Transitions would not return as a tournament title sponsor after its March 2012 event. Tour officials said they are already in discussions with potential replacements for the Tampa event, which has been a mainstay on the Florida swing.

The tour did not comment on DePuy Mitek’s departure, but finding a replacement will be high on the priority list with the 2012 season starting in eight weeks.

Tour players have come to rely on the mobile fitness center at each tour stop for rehabilitation of injuries and general workouts.

DePuy Mitek activated with media buys and a series of online fitness videos this year that featured a sneak peek at tour golfers Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry performing their workouts. Those 60- to 90-second vignettes were produced by PGA Tour Entertainment and ran on’s fitness section.

DePuy Mitek’s activation highlighted Orthovisc, its consumer brand for therapy that treats osteoarthritis of the knee.

Sports industry veteran Kathy Francis has been selected as the new chairwoman of the nonprofit group Women in Sports and Events, assuming responsibilities from WISE founder Sue Rodin, who launched the organization in 1993.

Rodin will continue to work with WISE in an advisory capacity and will hold the title chair emerita.

An official announcement of the change is expected this week.

“I’m stepping aside, not stepping down,” Rodin said. She added that she will continue to work in what she calls her “day job,” operating sports marketing and management firm Stars & Strategies, which she started in 1996.

Francis takes on the voluntary position at WISE in addition to her work as founder and president of New York-based Oasis Sports Ventures, a marketing company she launched in 2010. It aims to develop grassroots and amateur sports competitions for children, young adults and families.

Prior to launching Oasis, Francis was managing director of marketing and development for the U.S. Tennis Association. She was senior vice president of marketing, sales and communications for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority between 2002 and 2005. Before that, she worked for MLB, where she was vice president of marketing from 1998 to 2001.

Francis’ experience with WISE includes having been a member of the group’s board of directors from 1995 to 1997. In 2001, she was recognized as one of WISE’s Women of the Year. Most recently, she served as a mentor in the WISE Within mentoring program.

Francis cited the creation of new professional development opportunities among her goals for WISE. She said she hopes WISE Within, for example, can help bring women of all levels together and benefit every businesswoman.

“Senior-level women get called upon to do a lot of different things, and because there is just a smaller group, they are pulled in a lot of different directions,” Francis said. “I think their experiences can be shared with each other, with women of the same level, but they can also mentor others and do a better job of sponsoring other women in the industry.”

Since its founding in New York in 1993, WISE has grown to have 10 offices nationwide and more than 1,000 members. The group provides networking and support services for women working in the sports and event industries.

The Griffin Network assisted WISE in its executive search.

Molly Hogan is a staff writer for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.