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Archive for June, 2008

Top 10 Best Liked Companies

Posted by ZA on June 24, 2008

Harris Interactive just came out with the results of their 2007 poll on the top 10 “best liked” companies in the United States.  The study was supposed to measure the reputations of the most visible companies in the USA, which were determined by thousands of phone interviews and online voting.

The results for the ‘best liked’ companywere interesting as there were four tech companies in the top 10, with Google landing in the top spot (Google-1, Intel-3, 3M-7, MSFT-10).  That is surprising because I would expect people to relate more to their “comfort products”, many of which fall into the food or consumer goods category.  Those “comfort products” merely scored a tie with the tech sector, with four spots in the top 10 (J&J-2, General Mills-4, Kraft-5, Coke-8).

As the digital universe expands around us, our views and opinions are morphing to count on that technology more than in the past.  We need facebook, myspace and google search as much as we need cereal in the morning, a diet coke for lunch and Uncle Ben’s for dinner.  These technologies are now intertwined in our lives and comfort us.  Playing a game of Xbox or chatting in cyberspace are equally important in our lives as those products we’ve been around since we were kids.  Stress after a long day at work can be unwound by booting up our cpu (insert porn joke here) to escape in the same way my grandfather might have poured himself a glass of scotch.

Over the next few years I expect this list of ‘best liked’ companies to continue to morph from traditional consumer goods companies into tech companies.  Eventually we’ll see facebook, twitter and apple replace J&J, Kraft and Coca-Cola, as those products just become commodities to consume while we enjoy our more sophisticated technologies.

The 10 Best Like companies in the United States (2007):
1. Google
– Has changed the way we interact with the web.
2. Johnson & Johnson – Everyone needs band aids.
3. Intel – Smart marketing gained them “out of the box” exposure, like getting their “Intel Inside” stickers on everyone’s cpu/laptop and a string of memorable commercials with the Blue Man Group.
4. General Mills – Cereal in the morning is still a ritual for most Americans.
5. Kraft Foods – A string of hit “comfort foods” like Mac & Cheese.
6. Berkshire Hathaway – People want to be rich like Warren Buffet.
7. 3M Company – Their useful products are sitting all over my office.
8. Coca-Cola – Still the king of soft drinks, and now growing in water, tea, etc.
9. Honda– Can you say Prius effect?  If only GM or Ford had gotten serious about hybrids sooner.
10. Microsoft – Many think of them as the evil empire, but their products are everywhere.

What large company do you like the best? 

Some of my favorite big companies are Nike, Apple, Disney (i.e.- ESPN), Wikipedia & Toyota.

Posted in Internet | Leave a Comment »

Five more years of Notre Dame Network

Posted by ZA on June 20, 2008

Notre Dame has signed a 5-year contract extensionwith NBC that will have the peacock broadcasting Irish football games through 2015.  That deal includes 8 Notre Dame games per season, including one game that will be played on NBC prime time.

Obviously someone at NBC is banking on Charlie Weis turning things around, because Notre Dame had to air some absolutely stinkers last year to fulfill their commitment to the Irish.  Last year NBC averaged an ugly 1.9 ratingon their ND broadcasts. Another 3-9 Notre Dame team is not going to have advertisers scrambling to be included in Notre Dame games.

No word on how much NBC paid for this new deal, but the original deal between NBC and Notre Dame from 1991 was projected to be around $9 million per year.  This new deal would be richer than that because it includes more games per season. 

Posted in College Football, Sports Television, TV Rights Deals | Leave a Comment »

NBA experiences Best of Times and Worst of Times

Posted by ZA on June 16, 2008

If you asked David Stern last October what NBA Finals match up he dreams about every night before falling asleep, he would have undoubtedly said the Boston Celtics versus the Los Angeles Lakers.  The match upof two storied franchises from opposite ends of the country that both have bright shining stars; they would be the perfect pair to play for a title.  Stern got his dream in 2008, as they Celtics and Lakers are waging war in what could be remembered as an epic final.  The match up is so good that the league’s website set a record for hits in a day for a single sports website.  On June 5th, which was the date of Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, the league website recorded over 5.6 million hits.  That number blew away the previous record, also set by, of 3.4 million hits set on June 7, 2007.

What NBA Commissioner Stern would never have expected was that even as his dream match up played out on the court and on millions of television sets around the globe, he’d still be in the midst of a nightmare.  Stern’s nightmare is dealing with the fallout of the referee scandal that involved Tim Donaghy, a story that now has led to accusations that the league office fixed games.  The situation has gotten so bad for Stern that his beloved basketball league now has a major image issue it must fix.  They must repair the damage that the scandal and subsequent accusations have done to the integrity of his sport, and he must do it quickly before it further tarnishes the sport.  The solution is to quit; Stern should step down as Commissioner of the NBA.

Some will think that solution is using excessive force, or cutting off a leg to fix an ingrown toenail.  The reality is that it is going to take some dramatic steps in order for the NBA to fix their image issues.  A survey by Ad Age showed that over 40% of respondents think the NBA plays a role in “fixing” games, and over a quarter of people polled think the NBA setup a Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals match up.  Numbers that high show that the NBA’s brand has been hugely affected by the referee scandal, and that perceived lack of integrity will soon start to have a bigger effect on revenues.

The best way to restore people’s faith in the league is to act quickly and decisively to fix their issue.  Stern’s attempt at damage control in going on television to refute the accusations has been falling on deaf ears, as the league has still taking a barrage of criticism in the media and cyberspace.  Now its time for him to choose the success of the NBA over his own career by stepping down as league Commissioner.  Stern has been Commissioner of the NBA since 1984 and his tenure has seen great expansion in the league, so he doesn’t need to resign in shame.  Instead Stern can send a clear message that the NBA is bigger than anyone one person (Donaghy or Stern) and turn over the reigns to a handpicked successor.  A new face in-charge of the league would instill faith in the fans that a new era is coming, one in which referee cheating and league tampering will not occur.  Stern would usher out the bad feelings people have with his retirement, and the new league Commissioner would be the strong character person who is taking the league into positive new territory.

Are there other things that Stern and the NBA can do to fix the current situation?  Sure, other heads could roll.  Or they conduct a massive campaign to try to prove that no other referees were involved in wrong doing.  Ultimately nothing else would be as decisive as Commission David Stern saying its time for a change and stepping aside to let the league continue on without all of these negative distractions.

Would David Stern ever agree to something like that?  Would he in effect ‘take a bullet’ for the NBA?  Hard to imagine him doing it, because he’s got a huge ego and loves the spotlight.  He probably also has a skewed view of the situation, not realizing how critical it is to lose people’s trust in his sport.  But who knows, maybe Stern has it in him to the right thing and step down.

Do you think David Stern turning over the Commission role to a strong new character would help the NBA’s damaged image?

Posted in NBA, Sports Brands | Leave a Comment »

Who are the top endorsers for Jordan Brand?

Posted by ZA on June 13, 2008

Nike’s Jordan Brand (aka: Jumpman) is one of the flagship brands for the apparel company and shoe giant.  Jordan Brand’s success was built on the immense popularity of its namesake, Michael Jordan.  Although MJ’s appeal has remained strong since he retired from the court, Jordan Brand has continued to sign new faces to endorse the brand.  Jordan Brand has signed marquee names from the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NFL and other sports; but have they engaged the right people to endorse their product?

Below is a list of the famous athletes who currently endorse the Jordan Brand, along with a grade of how their own brand is impacting the Nike brand.  The pitchmen are being graded on a scale from A to F.

A players:
Derek Jeter (MLB, New York Yankees)
– The consummate pitchman.  If you look up “athlete endorser” on Wikipedia there should be a photo of Derek Jeter. He’s a star on the field who has won big games, he’s got a few World Series rings.  He’s loved by teammates, fans, the media and lovely ladies around the globe.  He always seems to same and do the right thing at the right time in the way.  Lately he is often cast in the “white hat” to Alex Rodriguez’s “black hat”, which has only improved his image.  If you are looking for the best athlete to endorse your product, Jeter is in a select group at the top of the list.  He’s endorsed the Jordan Brand for many years, and is a major boon to the Nike brand.

Chris Paul (NBA, New Orleans Hornets)– CPIII finally climbed the mountain this season, he took his image from great player to superstar.  He had an MVP worthy season and led the Hornets deep into the playoffs.  Now his name is being thrown around with the top stars in the NBA, and the buzz on Paul is only going to continue to grow.  He is quite possibly the future of the Jordan Brand, so get out your wallet Phil (Knight) and make sure you pay the kid.

Terrell Owens (NFL, Dallas Cowboys)– Before you accuse me of being a Dallas Cowboys homer, I’m not.  But I love TO because he’s a character that can sell ice to Eskimos.  He’s a high risk pitchman that you must “handle with care”, but he’s a stud on the field and ALWAYS in the headlines off the field.  Sign me up, if TO were a stock I’d be buying him right now.  [Note to Nike: Make sure you hop off the TO ride before it spins out of control, I figure you’ve got two more good years, and then its time to drop TO.]

B players:
Ray Allen (NBA, Boston Celtics)– Not a megastar, but has revived his name in the world of sports by joining the Boston Celtics.  Allen has also been the consummate professional and kept his nose out of trouble and he had a great a starring role in “He Got Game”.  He’s probably nearing retirement, but playing a role in turning around the fate of a historic franchise is a great cap to his career.  It looks like he’ll go out on top, which is great for Nike’s Jordan Brand.

Carmelo Anthony (NBA, Denver Nuggets)– Melo is definitely an NBA star and has his own signature Jumpman shoe.  So what’s the downside?  He’s not an “A” player because of his off the court issues.  Every year he’s having new issues that involve unsavory things like dwi, drugs and guns.  You can be the biggest star in the World, but if you don’t stay on the straight and narrow outside the lines then you won’t get good endorsement dollars (see: Mike Vick).  Carmelo needs to have a few years as an upstanding citizen in the community before I consider him an “A” level endorser.  Keep your fingers crossed on this one Nike, I could see him falling fast if he stays on his current path.

Richard “Rip” Hamilton (NBA, Detroit Pistons)– Rip is probably borderline “B”/”C” talent, but he’s still playing at a high-level so he’s a “B” for the time being.  The upside is Hamilton is a uber-talented player leading a Championship caliber team.  He’s consistently one of the top players in the league and an all-star.  His downside is playing in Detroit, which is outside of the major media spotlight, and his lack of charisma.  Strangely if he had a little Gilbert Arena in him, he’d probably be a more high profile endorsement candidate.

Marvin Harrison (NFL, Indianapolis Colts)– Until recently the only knock on Marvin would have been his seemingly bland personality, but now he’s dug himself into a much bigger hole.  Harrison was a solid “A” grade endorser until his name was recently linked to a shooting outside his Philadelphia bar.  Few things will drop your brand stock like a shooting accusation (or any type of assault, are you listing Marshawn Lynch?).  Harrison is currently a “B”, but he better have a really good year and get these legal troubles behind him if he hopes to stay above average.

Joe Johnson (NBA, Atlanta Hawks) – This might be a little bit generous given that he’s playing in Atlanta (see Mike Bibby), but Joe is the star of the Hawks.  He’s also relatively young, so if Nike plays their cards correctly he could become more of a household name in the coming years.  Joe needs to “just win baby”.

Andruw Jones (MLB, Los Angeles Dodgers)– Extremely helpful that Jones now plays in a major media market like Los Angeles, he also received great exposure (TBS anyone?) during his tenure with the Atlanta Braves. Andruw’s major shortcoming lately has been that he’s not playing good ball, and kids don’t ask their parent’s to buy them the shoes of mediocre ballplayers.  Andruw has never really been an “A”, and right now he’s barely hanging on to “B”.

C players:
Quentin Richardson (NBA, New York Knicks) – Q plays in a large media market which is a big plus, but he isn’t the star or fan favorite on his own team.  He’s a classic middle of the pack endorsement guy, in that he’s got some talent and good name recognition but doesn’t have kids imitating his moves on the playground.

Jason Taylor (NFL, Miami Dolphins) – A great NFL player who has been somewhat mired in obscurity the last few years because he is playing for an awful Dolphins team.  On the plus side he was a big hit in Dancing with the Stars, but unfortunately Nike doesn’t make tap shoes.

Mike Bibby (NBA, Atlanta Hawks) – Bibby was a huge star in Sacramento for years, now he’s playing well in Atlanta.  The problem is that’s not getting much national exposure, which means the ceiling on his brand is lower.  He needs to carry the Hawks to more success to creep up the list.

Michael Finley (NBA, San Antonio Spurs) – Proof that nice guys finish last middle of the pack when the play in tiny media markets like San Antonio, Texas.  Finley’s also getting really long in the tooth, he might even have a few grandchildren now.  He’s got a year or two more before he falls off this rating scale entirely.

Ahman Green (NFL, Houston Texans)– His best days are behind him, most people hardly know he’s playing in Houston.  The upside for Ahman is that if he comes out and has a monster season, then he’s the best thing since sliced bread again.  Because the NFL is “America’s Favorite Past-time” he’s going to get a ton of exposure if he ties his shoes correctly, so rush for 2000 yards or score 30 tds and he’s going to be cashing checks for Nike.

Jared Jefferies (NBA, New York Knicks) – He’s young, that’s his upside…for rest see Quentin Richardson.

D players:
Warren Sapp (NFL, Oakland Raiders)– I’ve always been a fan, but he’s been on the down slope of his career for the last few years.  Even in his heyday controversy always seemed to follow him (e.g- draft stock drop & Mike Sherman fiasco).  The perfect pitchman are receiving positive news headlines, Warren has always seemed to have an allergy to those.

Dre Bly (NFL, Denver Broncos)– I remember him best when he was at North Carolina, does that count?  Why does it seem that players go to the Broncos and become faceless cogs in their system.  Does that mean Mike Shanahan has built the perfect team because I recognize the team more than the individual players?  Who knows, but what I do know is Dre barely deserves to be rated this high.  Call it a hunch that he’ll have a strong year to justify a higher pitchman grade. 

Josh Howard (NBA, Dallas Mavericks) – Deserves to be higher (pardon the pun) than this because he’s a talented young player.  But he broke the most basic (endorsement 101) rule by admitting that he smokes weed on a radio interview.  I admire Howard’s honesty, but pity his stupidity for all of the future dollars he lost.

Eddie Jones (NBA, Dallas Mavericks)– I like Eddie Jones, I think he’s probably a good guy.  He just lacks charisma and plays the role of 3rd banana on the Mavs.  Nothing wrong with the guy, but also not someone who is going to sell out a rack of shoes with his name on them.

F players:
Bobby Simmons (NBA, Milwaukee Bucks) – If you are scratching your head, you aren’t alone.  Simmons is a forward for the small market Milwaukee Bucks and I doubt Nike’s global strategy revolves around Wisconsin.  I think Nike really screwed the pooch on this one.

Derek Anderson (NBA, Charlotte Hornets) – At one point he looked like he was headed for NBA stardom, then his ego took over.  Since he left the San Antonio Spurs he’s been nearly invisible in the league.  Invisible is not going to sell more shoes.

Juwan Howard (NBA, Dallas Mavericks) – Was a bigger star for Nike when he was part of the Fab 5, when they (presumably) weren’t even paying him.  Now he’s just an albatross on Nike’s payroll, like he’s been on a few NBA teams the last couple of years.

Fred Jones (NBA, New York Knicks)– Someone at Nike obviously thought it would be a brilliant idea to sign every player on the Knicks.  I can hear their logic now, “Surely they won’t all suck”.  Unfortunately they were wrong in this case, most of the Knicks do suck.

Andre Ward (Boxer, Super Middleweight) – I can’t grade him because I don’t know who he is.  A former Olympic gold medalist who’s Jordan Brand bio describes him as an undefeated pro.  I give him until the end of the year to make a name for himself or he’s an “F” for lack of exposure.

April Holmens (Track & Field) – First female athlete signed by Jordan Brand.  She is a single leg athlete, so her story is an inspirational one.  Eventually I think she could be an asset to the brand, but she’s too new and still unknown to make an impact.  Like Ward, she needs more time before she can be graded.

In conclusion, Nike has some work to do to strengthen their stable of Jumpman endorsers.  They seem to be a little top heavy with dead weight, so they need to let some deals expire, or get rid of them otherwise, in the very near future.  It also wouldn’t hurt to have someone get Kevin Durant and Greg Oden on speed dial for Jordan Brand.

Tell me which athletes deserve to be ranked higher or lower?

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, NBA, Nike, Sports Brands | 3 Comments »

Google…Microsoft for a new generation

Posted by ZA on June 12, 2008

Andy Beal wrote a really good piece in today’s Marketing Pilgrim that “translated” Google CEO’s interview answers into their true meaning.  A few of the better excerpts are below, and here is the link to read the entire piece.  The scary thing is how spot on Andy’s translation was of Schmidt’s answers, he takes the spin off everything he said.

I love the innovations that come from Google, but it really seems that Google is slowly (slowly, I said) morphing into Microsoft.  You know, the big, powerful, all-knowing corporation that controls our online experience experience and costs us tons of money.  This is the thing that Google has always tried not to be, but I’m not sure they can avoid going in that direction even if they do continue to innovate.

I like Microsoft too, but you have to admit they always cast in the role of “mean, evil corporate giant” to Google’s “we’re a really cool company” and Apple’s “we’re a really, really cool company”.  Testament to Google morphing into the next Microsoft, I am actually a little nervous to critcize Google (in this case passing along some humor at the expense of their CEO) on the open internet.  I hope Google doesn’t decide to drop my site (or TC) from their searching rankings.

— Below is from Andy Beal’s site Marketing Pilgrim

Please let us forget “don’t be evil”

Schmidt said “Don’t be evil” is meant to provoke internal debate over what constitutes ethical corporate behavior, rather than representing an absolute moral position.

“We don’t have an ‘Evilmeter’ we can sort of apply — you know — what is good and what is evil,” Schmidt said

Marissa Mayer said much the same back in April, and it appears that Google would rather we let it off the “evil” hook. It seems like “don’t be evil” was great for Google, while it was a young start-up, looking for publicity, but now it’s all grown-up, it’s clear the motto restricts Google too much. My question to Schmidt is this; why is Google so keen to step away from “don’t be evil?”

Stop calling us a “one trick pony”

Schmidt reaffirmed that the company’s primary goal is not to make money selling ads, whether it is banner ads or ads on Web searches, online video, TV and mobile phones.

“The goal of the company is not to monetize everything, the goal is to change the world … We don’t start from monetization. We start from the perspective of what problems do we have,” he said

OK, I’m scratching my head on this one. I mean, seriously. Does Google really expect us to believe that the company’s primary goal is not making money? If that’s the case, why isn’t the main focus? Why not give away all of its profits to countries that need more than just personalized search? Things like water and food are a little more useful than a search engine that remembers you like Italian food.

We prefer an independent weak Yahoo

“We think an independent Yahoo is better for competition, for innovation and so forth,” Schmidt said.

…and besides, if Yahoo and Microsoft merged, the combined entity would dampen our plans to make money change the world.

I’ll spy stay on the Apple board for as long as I can

Still, Schmidt reiterated that he must occasionally be excused from Apple board meetings…”I’ve only done this once or twice, so it’s not as common as it sounds,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt was asked whether the increasing competition between Apple and Google on the mobile front might ultimately prompt his resignation from Apple’s board. “It has not so far,” he said.

Schmidt maintains that Google’s Android will be “quite different” from Apple’s iPhone. Still, it will be tough for Schmidt to remain on Apple’s board, once Android is nipping at iPhone’s heels.”

Posted in Internet, Random Stuff | 1 Comment »

2008 NBA Finals Shoe Roster

Posted by ZA on June 10, 2008

Adidas may be the official apparel sponsor of the NBA, but Nike is dominating brand wars when it comes to what shoes are being worn in the NBA Finals.  Every active player on the Lakers roster minus one, and 3/4 of the Celtics roster are wearing Nike’s swoosh.

For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett has a major deal with Adidas, which Kendrick Perkins also wears, and Rajon Rondo wears Reebok (I’m not sure how those slipped in there).  Everyone else on the Celts roster wears Nike basketball shoes.

The Lakers bench has to have Phil Knight smiling from ear-to-ear because everyone on the team, except for Jordan Farmar, is wearing Nike.  How Farmar broke ranks with the rest of Team Kobe to wear the 3 stripes is a mystery to me, but he definitely stands out.

For Nike this NBA Finals is another great branding opportunity, the marquee stars for each team (Bryant & Pierce) both wear a signature Nike shoe.  Ray Allen is one of only a handful of Jordan Brand endorsers in the NBA, so he’s representing Nike’s flagship basketball brand in the Finals.  Then Nike has more than 90% of the rest of the players, which gives them huge exposure in all of the television highlights, video clips and photos of these historic Finals.

Rajon Rondo – Reebok
Kevin Garnett – Adidas
Kendrick Perkins – Adidas
Ray Allen – Nike (Jordan Brand)
Paul Pierce – Nike
PJ Brown – Nike
Sam Cassell – Nike
Leon Powe – Nike
James Posey – Nike
Eddie House – Nike

Kobe Bryant – Nike
Derek Fisher – Nike
Lamar Odom – Nike
Pau Gasol – Nike
Sasha Vujacic –  Nike
Jordan Farmar – Adidas
Luke Walton – Nike
Ronny Turiaf -Nike
Trevor Ariza – Nike
Vladmir Radmanovic – Nike 

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, NBA, Sports Brands | Leave a Comment »

MLS jersey sponsorship deals

Posted by ZA on June 8, 2008

With the recent annoucement that Microsoft will become the jersey sponsor of the new Seattle Major League Soccer franchise, that means more than half of the MLS teams now have jersey deals.  Within the next few years I expect the teams without deals to announce jersey sponsorships in the $1 to $2 million per season range.  Below is a list of the current MLS jersey sponsorship deals.

Major League Soccer Jersey Sponsorship Deals
Los Angeles Galaxy
– Herbalife – $4-5 million per year
Seattle Sounders FC (2009) – XBox 360 Live (Microsoft) – $4 million per year
DC United – Volkswagen – $3.1-3.7 million per year
Chicago Fire – Best Buy – $2-4 million per year
Chivas USA – Comex Group – $2 million per year
Houston Dynamo – Amigo Energy – $1.9 million per year
Toronto FC – Bank of Montreal – $1-1.5 million per year
Columbus Crew – Glidden – $1 million per year
Real Salt Lake – XanGo – $1 million per year
New York Red Bulls – Red Bull – Part of $100 million deal for team & stadium
Philadelphia Club (starts play in 2010) – No team details announced yet.
Kansas City Wizards – no jersey sponsor
New England Revolution – no jersey sponsor
Colorado Rapids – no jersey sponsor
FC Dallas – no jersey sponsor
San Jose Earthquakes – no jersey sponsor

Posted in Soccer, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing | 2 Comments »

Soccer clubs turning down endorsement dollars

Posted by ZA on June 4, 2008

A second major European soccer club has forsaken endorsement dollar millions to instead promote a charitable cause.  I wrote about FC Barcelona’s unique sponsorship deal with Unicef back in February, and now English Premier League club Aston Villa has followed suit.  The London Times reports that Aston Villa has entered into a sponsorship deal with the Acorns, a local children’s hospice, replacing their deal with 32Red that expired this Spring.

David Strudley of Acorns said, “We’re over the moon at having our name on Aston Villa’s shirts next season and having the opportunity to raise funds for children.”  Aston VIlla club chairman added, “I am very proud to be associated with such an initiative.”

The deal appears to be only setup for one season right now, but its too early to say whether this will become a long-term endorsement deal for Aston Villa.  What is clear is that Aston Villa is walking away from $4 million (or more) in endorsement dollars, as their expiring deal with 32Red was worth $3.9 million per year. 

Will this trend catch on with other Euro club teams?  Or possible even trickle over to some teams in the United States?  Impossible to say, but it is extremely refreshing to see these teams (Villa & FC Barca) set a new trend in sports marketing deals.  The owners, teams and players for these two (and many others) are already raking any millions of dollars per year, so why not pull a little of their profits off the table.  Especially since those profits can mean many millions of dollars more to the charitable cause than the value of the endorsement deal itself.

If Villa had just donated $4 million to Acorns that would have been very nice, but putting the Acorns name on their jersey might mean exponentially more to the charity.  Acorns will net them tens of millions of dollars for their cause over the coming years, even if Villa doesn’t keep them on the jersey, because millions of people now be exposed to Acorns.  This deal also means more to Aston Villa than the money they gave up, because it increases the value of their brand in two ways: more people will hear about Aston Villa because of the deal and many people will favor Aston Villa because of the deal. This partnership is truly a win-win situation, and I applaud Aston Villa (& Barca) for making it happen.  I just hope there are a few American team execs out there that take notice (are you listening MLS?).

Aston Villa Jersey
Aston Villa’s 32Red sponsorship will be replaced by Acorns next season.
(Photo courtesy:


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

Most Expensive Tennis Shoes

Posted by ZA on June 2, 2008

There has been quite a few stories over the past year about Under Armour battling to take away market share from Nike.  At the same time Nike and Adidas have been exchanging fire in their battle for new endorsement deals with Nike recently taking away the Yankees from Adidas.  So I decided to look closer at the tennis shoe wars and see how these giants stack up on retail; I wanted to find out which are the top 10 most expensive tennis shoes.

Since running shoes today double as athletic footwear and fashionable casual wear, I decided to examine the Men’s Running Shoe category.  The goal was to find which mainstream running shoes are the most expensive tennis shoes on the market today.  I used three sources to make sure I was including all of the top brands, I checked Eastbay, Runtex and Nordstroms.

The resulting list of 14 shoes made up the top 10 most expensive running shoes.  Of the 14 (top 10 + ties) there were 6 pairs of Nike, 3 pairs of New Balance and single pairs from Saucony, Karhu, Asics, Brooks and Mizuno.  Interesting enough there were not one pair of Adidas or Reebok in the top 10.  The results show that Nike’s strategy is to price high and command higher margins in order to offset the costs of their expansive marketing campaigns.  That strategy works for Nike because they focused their brand message on their image, rather than the product itself.  Their commercials, their sponsorships and the megastars they sign to endorse their product all help to convey that “image is everything” mantra.  So it is not surprising that Nike offers so many high priced tennis shoes.

Top 10 Most Expensive Running Shoes – May 2008
(1) $164.99 – Saucony Progrid Paramount
(2) $159.99 – Karhu M-1
(3) $144.99 – Nike Shox Saya
(4) $144.95 – New Balance MR 1123
(5) $139.99 – Nike Air Max 360 III
(5) $139.99 – Nike Experience +
(5) $139.99 – Nike Air Max TL IV Premier
(5) $139.99 – Nike Shox R4
(9) $135.00 – New Balance MR 992
(10) $134.99 – Nike Air Equalon+2 
(10) $134.99 – New Balance 1223 ST
(10) $134.99 – ASICS Gel-Kayano XIV
(10) $134.99 – Brooks Trance 7
(10) $134.99 – Mizuno Wave Nirvana 4

Just for kicks (no pun intended) I looked up the most expensive tennis shoes, and discovered that Sak’s 5th Avenue offers Gucci sneaker at $875.00 per pair.  I can’t imagine what would possess someone to want to buy these shoes.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Nike, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | 5 Comments »

Kimbo Slice attracts viewers for CBS

Posted by ZA on June 2, 2008

The debut of EliteXC Saturday Night Fights on CBS drew a 2.7 national overnight rating for the network.  The big draw for the evening was the match featuring internet sensation, and recent ESPN The Mag cover boy, Kevin Ferguson (aka: Kimbo Slice) versus James “The Colossus” Thompson.  Slice has gained fast fame from the posts of his street fights that are all over the internet.  The 2.7 rating was slightly higher than the 2.6 rating NBC had on their broadcast of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Kimbo Slice debuted MMA on newtork TV
Can Kimbo Slice and MMA become a mainstay for CBS?
(Photo courtesy:

I am not a fan of MMA, but I DVR’d the event so I could see what all of the hype was about.  My impression is this won’t be something that CBS sticks with for the long-term; they scored on their first broadcast because it was the first time MMA was on network TV and they had the Kimbo on the card.  Slice was the reason that myself and many others tuned in because he has been a hot topic recently and I just finished reading the profile of him in ESPN Magazine.  Without Slice on the card CBS will not get those same ratings.  I fast forwarded through the majority of the broadcast to just watch the Kimbo Slice match, and even that match was fairly boring.

I think CBS is going to have to rethink whether they want MMA to be part of their regular prime time broadcasting.  The sport is very violent, more so than boxing in my opinion, so CBS is going to take some heat for the content they are broadcasting.  The site of Thompson’s mangled ear is not something I want to see again.  The show was also way too long, it took over 2 hours to get to the main event, and it was not executed well in CBS’s maiden broadcast.

Overall, the event ranks as a success for CBS and MMA.  But the question now is whether it was a one-hit wonder or the partnership of CBS and MMA can continue to be profitable.  I’m betting against it.

Did you watch?  Do you think MMA has a future on network primetime TV?

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