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Volume 20 No. 41

Marketing and Sponsorship

A social media initiative by Heineken during the UEFA Champions League encourages American soccer fans to participate in a photo competition to win a viewing party for their city for the championship game.

Each time fans ages 21 and older post photos of themselves watching a Champions League match to Heineken’s Facebook page or mobile app, they win a point for their U.S. city. The two cities that have the most points when the contest closes after next month’s semifinals will be awarded a viewing party at a large hall for the Champions League Final on May 25. The winning events are expected to host more than 1,000 fans.

“It will be a premium event,” said Pattie Falch, Heineken’s brand director.

Heineken would bear the responsibility of securing and booking the host venues.

The contest kicked off earlier this month, when the beer company’s Champions League app was released for download. The early returns show promise: During the two days of the Champions League’s round of 16 that concluded two weeks ago, more than 1,000 photos were uploaded by fans. New York had an early lead, with Dallas; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles among other markets getting strong support.

Heineken is placing an emphasis on young adult male Hispanics in the U.S. with the campaign. Television spots and digital advertising have been placed with Fox Deportes (which is broadcasting the matches), ESPN Deportes and, among other media outlets.

“We have a focus on Hispanic males age 21-34 because it’s the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S.,” said Colin Westcott-Pitt, Heineken’s vice president of marketing.

Heineken has sponsored the UEFA Champions League since 1994. Wieden & Kennedy, New York, is Heineken’s advertising agency. Heineken’s Champions League app was developed by Cultur8.

Sports supplement producer X2Performance is flexing its marketing muscles for the first time, securing a sponsorship of the Ironman U.S. triathlon series and two individual events.

The startup brand will be presenting sponsor of the May 4 Ironman event in St. George, Utah, and the Aug. 4 race in Boulder, Colo., while also becoming the official sports supplement of the full Ironman U.S. triathlon series.

Terms of the deal were not available, but company CEO Ralph Ferrante said the deal was a fit as X2’s target market is triathletes, runners and cyclists. He added the company is shying away from any athlete endorsements for now.  

IMG handled the deal for X2Performance. Ironman did the deal internally.

X2 will leverage at Ironman events with signage and “educational teams,” and will use Ironman logos on its products and website.  

After nearly four years and millions of dollars in research and development, X2Performance will begin selling products on its website this week. A box of seven 2-ounce bottles will sell for $49.95.  

Positioning itself as an all-natural sports performance enhancement, the brand has gained a number of industry seals of approval. It has certification through independent laboratory testing to comply with the NSF Certified for Sport program standards as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency banned substance testing standards.

“There is quite a bit of buzz around the negatives in this industry, so we have decided to be the antithesis,” Ferrante said.

X2Performance enters a crowded yet booming market for sports supplements. As the target market shifts from one centered on male bodybuilders to participants in recreational sports among both genders, sports supplements are forecast to see double-digit growth in collective sales over the next five years.

Terry Lefton
JPMorgan Chase continues to put its brand on Madison Square Garden-owned properties as part of its massive sponsorship deal signed in 2010. Industry sources tell us that after a $50 million renovation is completed in 2014 at the Inglewood, Calif., arena once known as the Great Western Forum, the venue will be renamed the Fuse Forum presented by Chase.

The new name will combine the branding needs of Chase with those of Fuse, the MSG-owned music cable network, though not necessarily artfully.

The former home of the Los Angeles Lakers is getting a new name with its renovation.
Sources tell us Chase will pay incrementally for this unwieldy naming-rights deal but added that this contingency was covered in the brand’s colossal “naming rights with everything but the name” deal with MSG a few years ago.

Those who aren’t fans of retrofitted naming-rights deals will have ample reasons to dismiss this one. Since MSG is recasting what was the home of the Lakers and Kings (from 1967 to 1999) as a music-only alternative to AEG’s Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, we understand the Fuse connection. We also appreciate Chase’s desire for branding in Los Angeles to match some of what it has in New York. But combining all those into a singular moniker seems to be a case where more will be less.

> IN THE PINK: Longtime MLB official rights holder Rawlings is adding a bit more color to this year’s MLB Mother’s Day program with a pink ball that will add to the pink bats, gloves, shoes, wristbands and lineup cards in a program that dates to 2006 designed to raise awareness of breast cancer. Rawlings’ Mother’s Day baseball is white but has pink stitching and the image of the breast cancer ribbon. Other printing on the ball, including the commissioner’s signature, is also in pink.

The balls will be made this week and used in every game on Mother’s Day, May 12. Rawlings will deliver more than 30,000 balls to retailers in April. Proceeds benefit several MLB-designated cancer charities.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Adam Pennington, the founder and longtime CEO of Game Time licensed sports watches, has jumped to Sparo, which will develop a line of licensed timepieces under the aegis of longtime hard-goods licensee Rico/Tag Express. Development of the watches is in the early stages, as there were pictures but no product to show at the recent NFL Consumer Products Summit. Pennington said the new line of two women’s and eight men’s styles will range from $30 to a $150 chronograph and will initially ship in July with licenses from all four major leagues. … Paul Phipps, former MLS executive vice president and International Speedway Corp. CMO, is the new CMO at Visit Florida, the Tallahassee-based, state-owned tourism agency, where he’ll be armed with a budget that was $54 million last year and could grow to as much as $75 million this year. In leaving Florida State University, where he was general manager for Seminole IMG Sports Marketing and assistant athletic director, Phipps goes from working for IMG College to having IMG as a vendor, since Visit Florida buys sponsorship assets from IMG for both the University of Florida and Florida State. With an eye toward tax revenue and job creation, Visit Florida’s goal is to increase tourist visits from its current level of 89 million people to 100 million. “Tourism is now the biggest industry in Florida, not development of agriculture, so we’ve got a lot of support from the state,” Phipps said.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

USA Triathlon signed three new sponsorship deals, bringing on MetLife, TransAmerica and DJO Global, the medical device company behind Aircast, Bell-Horn and Fast Freeze.

The three, multiyear deals are silver-level sponsorships that are valued in the low six figures. They come on the heels of a three-year period when USA Triathlon tripled its sponsorship revenue to more than $2 million. The only sponsor lost during that period was Bank of America, which dropped an affinity card program.

“Historically, we’ve done a good job of capturing the endemic market,” said Chuck Menke, USA Triathlon’s director of marketing and communications. “My goal was to have fewer but more meaningful partnerships, and I think we’ve had success doing that. Madison Avenue is recognizing the value of our demo and the popularity of the sport.”

MetLife replaces Liberty Mutual as the organization’s official home and automotive insurance sponsor. The company will be able to send out mailers to USA Triathlon members as a result of the deal and also receive advertising in the organization’s magazine and on its website.

DJO Global is owned by Blackstone and plans to use its sponsorship to promote its line of knee braces, compression wear and recuperation equipment to triathletes.

TransAmerica will provide race cancellation insurance to athletes. If an athlete has to cancel their participation in a race because of injury, sickness, family emergency or other unforeseen events, the company will refund their entry fee. It also is developing a bike insurance program that it plans to offer in the future.

“We want to be engaged with the active lifestyle consumer segment and have an active and engaging dialogue and experience with them,” said Ed Walker, TransAmerica’s chief strategy officer, life and protection division. “We are looking at products that make sense for this segment and how we can better position for this segment. We don’t look at this as a single product or transactional opportunity but rather a way to build a relationship with the consumer as they move through life.”

In addition to boosting its sponsorship revenue, USA Triathlon increased membership by 75 percent from 2010 to 461,008. Membership dues provide the bulk of the organization’s revenue and totaled more than $7.4 million in 2011, the last year that its tax form is available.

Substantial growth has been driven by youth membership. As more adults compete in triathlons, more of their kids have begun to follow suit. Youth membership increased 35 percent last year to 62,345.

The organization hopes to add 50,000 members this year. It hopes initiatives like a series of membership recognition programs and personalized website experiences at help that effort.

“We’re a sport that’s difficult to do and difficult to be a member of, but we’re very inclusive and encouraging of first-timers,” said USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach. “Our single-sport brethren probably don’t share that same culture. Our sense of community is very powerful.”