Branding the World of Sports

Archive for May, 2008

2008 NBA Finals will be richest series in history

Posted by ZA on May 31, 2008

The executives at ABC Sports are going to sleep well this weekend knowing that when they get into the office on Monday they’re going to book more ad revenue than the NBA Finals has in over a decade.  This is the most highly anticipated NBA Finals since Michael Jordan hung up his Bulls jersey, and the TV ratings and ad dollars generated will reflect that.

This is the 11th time the Celtics and Lakers have played each other in the NBA Finals.  Their match ups during the 1980’s when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played were the “heyday” for the NBA.  Bird, Magic and Jordan were ambassadors for the NBA; so those 80’s series between Celts and Lakers were the foundation of the success the league has experienced since then.

So who are the big winners from this Celtics/Lakers match up?  Who benefits the most aside from the teams themselves?

* ABC Sports– Executives at ABC Sports have been playing Russian Roulette in their offices for the past 10 days.  The bullet they dodged was a San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons championship match up, which would have been more of a “clunker” than when they played that same series a few years ago (shivers down the spin of ABC execs everywhere).  They would have had to pump Prozac into the coffee in their cafeteria if the Spurs and Pistons had won.  Instead ABC is about to have the highest rated NBA Finals in over a decade (maybe ever) and should set a record for the ad revenue sold on this NBA Finals.

* The NBA & Commissioner David Stern– Stern has been doing nothing but stepping on landmines lately (Sonics relocating, players running afoul with the law) and has had to preside over some dark days for the NBA in recent years (Referee scandal, Pistons/Pacers brawl, etc), but this NBA Finals will shine a lot of positive light on the league and Stern.  This match up is a throwback to the glory days of the NBA when gas was under $1.00 per gallon and Larry Bird was knocking down jump shots.  Expect to see the Commissioner on TV smiling a lot, he’s going to be thinking about a renaissance for high league that starts with this Finals.

* The Fans– East Coast vs West Coast.  California vs New England.  Two franchises that have participated in a combined 49 NBA Finals.  NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.  Loads of Hollywood celebrities sitting courtside at the Staples Center while Marky Mark and Beantown’s finest show up in Boston.  This series has appeal that will draw in fans from all across the country (world).  I’m only a casual NBA fan, but I know that I’ll watch every game in this series.  The interest in this series from fans will be huge, and the hype in the media will even go beyond that.

* The Media– There is nothing worse for the sports media than trying to “prop up” a lame Championship series, watching them trying to hype Astros vs White Sox World Series a couple of years ago was like watching George Foreman trying to pimp his mini grills (just not appealing).  But a Lakers versus Celtics series stands on its on merits, there won’t need to be any pimping by the media to get fans interested.  Instead ESPN can go into full hype mode with hourly reports from Boston and Los Angeles, and every single possible angle covered.  I full expect Skip Bayless’ head will explode during the next two weeks.

* Ticket Brokers– Yes, I know a little something about this topic.  That cash register sound you hear is the sound coming from ticket brokers in Boston and Los Angeles where ticket prices are going to be sky high.  You want to sit courtside, next to Justin Timberlake, for Game 5 of the series?  You’ll need to own an Amex black card.

* Nike – Never hurts to have one of your marquee endorsers as the key star in the series, expect to see a lot of Kobe Bryant’s “mamba” shoes during the series.  I even expect to see a resurgence of the video of Kobe jumping over the car.

* Adidas – Ironic that the two shoe titans will once again clash with Adidas support Celtics KG and Nike putting their money behind Kobe.  KG has a lifetime endorsement contract with Adidas that he signed back in 2003.

When the smoke clears I expect the revenue generated by this series will easily be the most in the history of the NBA Finals.  Merchandise sales, ticket sales, tv ad revenue, etc. will all be at record levels.  So sit back and enjoy the show because the hype is already started and Game 1 is Thursday.

Magic vs Bird
Will they make a replica of this famous photo for the 2008 Finals with Kobe & KG?
(Photo courtesy:

Posted in Money, NBA, Sports Marketing, Sports Television, Tickets | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to BrandDunk

Posted by ZA on May 28, 2008

I decided to change the name from FilltheMezz to BrandDunk.  Enjoy the site.

Posted in Random Stuff | Leave a Comment »

Nike inks deal with New York Yankees

Posted by ZA on May 24, 2008

The pinstripes are saying so long to the 3 stripes of and hello to the swoosh.

Two of the biggest brands in the world of sports are joining forces as Nike just signed a 5-year deal with the New York Yankees.  The deal is especially sweet for Nike because not only do they get their brand attention in the top media market, New York City, but they also send Adidas packing.  Adidas has been the official partner of the NY Yankees since 1997 and now must turn over the Yankees to their bitter rival.

Nike’s deal does not begin until the Yankees move into the new Yankee Stadium for the 2009 season, but in the meanwhile Nike is busy aligning themselves in the market with major sponsorships of the 2008 MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.  Nike is spending a fortune for exposure, including outfitting the 2000 volunteers who will be working there.

The deal makes sense for Nike because they already have endorsement contracts with the biggest stars on the Yankees roster, including: Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter (Jordan Brand).  Nike will assuredly use these four as the faces of their sponsorship of the Yankees.  Adidas had a great run with the Yankees, but now its time for them to find some other way to get exposure in NYC.

Yankee Stadium
Adidas will not be moving with the Yankees to their new stadium.  In 2009 Nike moves in.
(Photo courtesy: NY Mag)

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, MLB, Nike, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands | 2 Comments »

Maria Sharapova inks deal with Tiffany & Co

Posted by ZA on May 22, 2008

Maria Sharapova is a global icon, she has the beauty and personality to match her talent on the tennis court where she is the top-ranked player in women’s tennis.  Her latest endorsement deal makes her the first athlete to be a spokesperson for legendary jewelry boutique Tiffany & Co.  The two year deal calls for Sharapova to wear Tiffany earrings and jewelry at all four major tennis tournaments, starting at the 2008 French Open.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova counts Tag Heuer watches among her many endorsement deals.
(Photo courtesy: Tag Heuer)

Maria Sharapova endorsement deals:
* Nike
* Tag Heuer (watches)
* Gatorade
* Canon
* Land Rover
* Sony Ericsson
* Prince (tennis racquets)
* Tropicana
* Parlux Fragrances (perfume)
* Tiffany & Co

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, Gatorade, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands | Leave a Comment »

Guy Ritchie directs new Nike commercial

Posted by ZA on May 21, 2008

Nike decided to bring in a big name director to pair with their roster of soccer stars for their new commercial.  For their “Take it to the next level” campaign Nike got English director, and husband to Madonna, Guy Ritchie to director.

Richie’s vision was to show the world of soccer through a up-and-coming player who has just ascended to the professional ranks.  The commercial shows action on the field, training and life away from the pitch.  It has appearances from some of Nike’s megastars like Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo (who should be spending more time working on his penalty kicks and less in commercials).  Overall the commercial is entertaining but it was not a transcendent commercial, and for the money Nike spent for an expensive director, tons of high-tech filming techniques and a boatload of soccer stars I expected more.  The commercial also is a bit of a knock off from some of Guy’s movies like “Lock Stock..” and “Snatch”, in that it has that same gritty feel and the jerky camera movements.

Warning: Be careful watching this commercial if you get motion sickness. 

Nike Football’s new Take It To The Next Level soccer commercial

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Nike, Soccer, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Hollywood stars put shine on Lakers

Posted by ZA on May 19, 2008

My apologies to Spike Lee and New York Knicks but if you looking for celebrity star power at an NBA game, then the Los Angeles Lakers’ Staples Center is absolutely the place to be.  Mega Hollywood stars and Lakers games go together like Baskin & Robbins.  The LA Timeshad an interesting story on the dance that goes on behind the scenes to ensure all of those A-list celebrities are sitting court side for Lakers games.  The article touches on the positive effect celebrity attendance has for the Lakers, their presence at games makes the Lakers brand more valuable. 

Hollywood adds to the Lakers bottom line:
* Lakers tickets, particularly in the lower-level, are more valuable and can be sold for more money.
* Lakers games are an “in thing” to do in L.A., which produces more sell outs at Staples Center.
* The Lakers get more exposure in the media from celebrity photos at games.
* Lakers merchandise is more valuable when a celebrity is picturing wearing it.

Right now the Lakers brass and the NBA league office are salivating over an NBA Finals that features the return to Showtime Los Angeles Lakers against their old rival the Boston Celtics, the ratings for that series would be historic.  The big question would be whether Los Angeles’ most outspoken Celtics fan, Bill Simmons, would be able to score celebrity tickets or a media pass to that series?

Jack Nicholson at Lakers Game
Jack Nicholson is the Lakers most recognizable fan.  (Photo courtesy: ESPN)

Which celebrity do you think is more associated with their team:
A. Spike Lee
– New York Knicks
B. Jack Nicholson– LA Lakers

Posted in NBA, Sports Brands | Leave a Comment »

Nike growing presence in China

Posted by ZA on May 16, 2008

Nike is aggressively pursuing growth in China and their efforts are paying off as China has become Nike’s second largest market with over $1 billion in sales.  Nike has been focused on building their brand in the country with the largest population in the World, and they hit the $1 billion in sales mark a year ahead of the target they had originally set.  Over the next 5 years Nike plans to grow their presence in China from 300 cities to 500, and focus on connecting with more Chinese youth.

How do you say “Just Do It” in Chinese?

Nike is gaining ground in the World’s largest market.  (Image courtesy: Nike)

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Nike, Sports Brands | 1 Comment »

Gatorade dumps Work Out

Posted by ZA on May 15, 2008

For the past few years Gatorade’s Propel fit water has been one of the sponsor for Bravo TV’s show Work Out, but Gatorade is now pulling that sponsorship in the wake of comments made on the show.  Work Out is a cable tv reality show that follows the lives of Los Angeles trainer, Jackie Warner, and the trainers at her Skylab gym.  Propel product placements have been a fixture on the show for the past two seasons.

In a recent episode Warner made comments that were insensitive towards a woman who is a breast cancer survivor, which set off a firestorm of criticism.  Viewers of the show started to voice their displeasure in the blogosphere and by emailing the show, and Gatorade quickly made the (correct) decision to pull their sponsorship.  Propel’s product placement will still be included in this season’s episodes, but now they are being blurred out on the screen by Bravo.

Propel Fit Water
Gatorade pulled Propel’s sponsorship from Work Out to prevent further brand association with a show that could be damaging.  (Image courtesy: NiceMuscle)

Click here to read the statement from Gatorade on dropping their sponsorship.

Posted in Gatorade, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Reebok signs F1 driver Lewis Hamilton

Posted by ZA on May 14, 2008

Reebok is going to pay Formula One superstar, Lewis Hamilton, almost $20 million dollars to become their newest “global brand ambassadors”. The deal is a 3-year deal that will pay the young driver to be a spokesperson for Reebok throughout Europe and the rest of the World. Other “brand ambassadors” for Reebok include soccer stars Thierry Henry and Andriy Shevchenko.

No word on whether Reebok included a clause in the contract about avoiding dangerous activities.

Lewis Hamilton F1 driver
Why is Lewis Hamilton smiling? You would be too if Reebok just gave you $20 million.
(Picture courtesy:

Click here to see a full Endorsement Profile of Lewis Hamilton.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, Sponsorship Deals | 1 Comment »

All Olympics TV channel coming soon?

Posted by ZA on May 14, 2008

The USOC is building a 24-hours a day Olympics Channel to be offered as part of your cable television package.  The channel will air coverage of the games during Olympic years, and fill the hours in-between with archival footage from past Games, Olympic trials and World Championships coverage.  The cable network will be reminiscent of other singularly focused channels like NBA TV, the Golf Channel, the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network.

Personally I don’t see how a cable network who’s primary event occurs every two years (alternating Summer & Winter Games) is going to stay relevant.  Even the NFL Network’s programming gets a little stale, and they have the most popular sport in America and a new season every Fall, plus the NFL Draft in the Spring.

The big kicker for the Olympics Network is that they’ve yet to work out a deal with NBC, who owns the broadcast rights to the Games.  So the Olympic Network will not be live for Beijing 2008, and is trying to work things out prior to London 2012.  Someone please queue the line from Nicolas Cage in Honeymoon in Vegas, “You’re not even flying today!”

Visit this link if you are looking for the complete television schedule for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Posted in Olympics, Sports Television | 4 Comments »