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Branding the World of Sports

Archive for July, 2008

Censorship at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?

Posted by ZA on July 30, 2008

Is anyone really surprised that China is going to censor aspects of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?  That the Chinese government Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG) is reneging on promises they made in order to land the 2008 Summer Games.  That the Chinese government BOCOG is going to censor what media members, athletes and fans at the Beijing Games can access on the internet.  That the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is now forced to grin and bear it as the Chinese government BOCOG dictates the terms for these games.  That China’s human rights record has not improved as a result of landing the Olympic Games; and that China is still battling with Tibet.

No one should be, the IOC knew what they were getting into when they granted the 2008 Games to China.  The IOC was just blinded by all of the money and economic opportunity that is available in China.  Olympic historian David Wallechinsky said it best, “There is so much money being made that the IOC just turned a blind eye.  The IOC wanted to believe that everything was going to go well…the Communist Party wants to control everything.”

The great Gordon Gecko said it best in the movie Wall Street, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  I think the IOC was thinking of Mr. Gecko when they made the decision seven years ago to award the Summer Games to China.  Now they have to live with that decision and hope they can repair their reputation when these Games are finished.

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Posted in Olympics | 3 Comments »

CC Sabathia shows class in being traded

Posted by ZA on July 30, 2008

Trades are a regular part of professional sports, as athletes are continually being shipped from one team to another.  There are a variety of reasons why a trade occurs, but regardless trades are something that every athlete knows are part of the game.  What is the proper way to handle a trade?  Young stars could take some notes from CC Sabathia’s recent trade on ‘best ways to handle being traded’.

Sabathia played for the Cleveland Indians for 7.5 seasons before recently being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.  The former Cy Young Award winner was traded by the Tribe because they did not think they would be able to sign him when he became a free agent at the end of the season.  How did Sabathia respond to joining the Brew Crew?  Sabathia started his career with the Brewers by going 4-0 to help thrust the team into the race for first place in the NC Central Division.  His inspired play has people talking about Milwaukee making a deep run in the playoffs and has energized the entire city.

While Sabathia was taking care of business on the field, it was a small off-field gesture that truly showed the class with which CC has handled this transition.  Sabathia paid $12,870 to purchase a full-page advertisement in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  The ad thanked the fans of Cleveland and many of the people who helped enrich his family’s lives during their time there.  A classy move to be sure by Mr. Sabathia and his family.

I know that sports are a business and trades can sometimes evolve from particularly ugly circumstances, but hopefully more athletes will emulate CC in how he handled his trade.  There are certainly plenty of them, like Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United, who could learn a thing or two about the proper way to handle these type situations.  Ronaldo, and his family, are in the middle of an ugly break up with his team and has openly pined about playing for another team (Real Madrid).  Maybe someone can give CC’s cell phone number to Mr. Ronaldo.

See the CC Sabathia ad below, or visit the Plain Dealer to read the entire advertisement.

CC Sabathia Ad

CC Sabathia ad ran in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Posted in MLB | Leave a Comment »

“Just Do It” from Nike turns 20

Posted by ZA on July 29, 2008

Happy 20th Birthday to one of the greatest brand slogans of all-time.

2008 is the 20th year for Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan.  It has well represented the greatest athletic shoe manufacturers in history and been associated with some of their most famous athletes.  To celebrate the 20th anniversary Nike developed a special “Courage” spot that will be seen many times throughout the upcoming Olympics.

Below is the “Courage” spot from Nike:

Pretty cool spot although I think Nike could have picked some better music.  It also would have been great to see some more images of Michael Jordan and a few of their other more famous athletes.  Perhaps, they’ll release a special, internet only, version of the clip that is longer than 1 minute.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Nike, Olympics, Sports Brands | 2 Comments »

Watch NFL games live on your computer

Posted by ZA on July 28, 2008

The NFL and NBC Sports agreed upon a deal that will allow NBCSports.com and NFL.com to stream NFL games live on the internet.  This deal is the first time that NFL games will be broadcast over the web and is a big step forward for the league in embracing the power of the internet.  The NFL has lagged behind other leagues in moving their broadcasts to the web, particularly Major League Baseball who’s MLBAM (Major League Baseball Action Media) subsidiary has been broadcasting baseball games on the web for years.

The NFL broadcasts will only include the 17 NFL games that NBC Sports has the rights to televise, including their wildly popular Sunday Night Football games and the opening game of the year between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.  The regular television advertising will “most likely” be removed so that NBCSports.com and the NFL can split the revenue created by selling new advertisers on the web only broadcasts.

According to the SportsBusinessJournal article the league’s other television partners (CBS, ESPN & FOX) were not happy to not be included in this type of deal.  A network source said, “The right to stream games was not in any of the contracts we signed.”

This streaming deal is great news to married guys across America who can now spend quality time with their wives on Sunday night, watching the game on their laptop while their wife watches Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy.

NFL Sunday Night Football logo

Now you can watch NFL Sunday Night Football broadcasts online.

Posted in Internet, NBC, NFL, Sports Television, TV Rights Deals | Leave a Comment »

Gatorade vs Powerade: Whose stars are bigger?

Posted by ZA on July 25, 2008

Coca-Cola’s Powerade is launching a new “Power Up” ad campaign in an effort to cut into the marketshare of of industry leader Gatorade.  The launch will be supported by a slew of new sports stars that will now endorse Powerade.  The athletes will be featured in the traditional media component of the campaign, specifically in their home markets.  The 18 sports stars selected as endorsers by Powerade are:

NBA
Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
Tyson Chandler (New Orleans Hornets)
Baron Davis (Los Angeles Clippers)
Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)
Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic)
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)
Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)

NFL
Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins)
Shawne Merriman (San Diego Chargers)
Jeremy Shockey (New Orleans Saints)
Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
Vince Young (Tennessee Titans)

MLB
Vladimir Guerrero (Anaheim Angels)
Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)

Other
Juan Pablo Montoya (Nascar)
Venus Williams (Tennis)

Anthony, Howard and Merriman will be designated as the national faces of the campaign.  The rest of the athletes will focus on their core markets.  Which is a good plan that hit a speed bump when Jeremy Shockey was recently traded from the New York Giants to the New Orleans Saints, leaving Powerade without a local star presence in the largest U.S. media market, New York City.  My guess is that Powerade will either add someone in New York, and possibly Chicago, or try to utilize Venus Williams presence at the US Open as their in to the Big Apple.

What is most striking about this Powerade promotion is the athletes they picked to lead it.  It seems their strategy is to align themselves with up-and-coming endorsement stars, rather than trying to pluck the marquee endorsement stars from each sport.  That is not a knock at these stars ability, but more a commentary on their Q-rating which are all about B-level.

If that is what Powerade is trying to do, it is certainly an interesting strategy to employee in this particular space because for years their chief rival, Gatorade, has made a living signing the biggest marquee names available.  Gatorade’s current endorsement stars including Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Candace Parker, LaDainian Tomlinson, Maria Sharapova, Sidney Crosby, Landon Donovan, Kevin Durant, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Garnett, Eli Manning and Dwayne Wade.  That list reads like a who’s, who of the biggest stars in each sport.  Only Vitaminwater, another Coca-Cola product has a list of celebrity endorsers that can come close to Gatorade (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Brian Urlacher & David Ortiz).

What is Powerade’s strategy in putting these 18 stars up against the All-Star lineup that endorses Gatorade?  Powerade is playing the odds by signing a large number of star athletes who have not yet made the jump to superstar status.  They have a bunch of chips on the table and can wait and see which one’s pay off big over the next few years.  Essentially Powerade is trying to block out Gatorade from signing any of these 18 athletes and hoping one of them turns into the next Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning in-regards to endorsement potential.

Personally I like the move by Powerade, they’ve got a stable of great, mostly young talent to represent their brand.  Many of whom are already fairly large stars in the endorsement world, and the one’s that are not yet seem to be on the way up.  What is the ceiling for endorsement potential on Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Howard and Vince Young?  Seems to be pretty high for each of them, and if those don’t work out they’ve still got established athletes like Venus Williams and Paul Pierce leading their brand.

The 18 Powerade stars might not currently matchup with the lineup from Gatorade, but their long-term potential is excellent.  Powerade made the right move in taking quantity over top-notch quality, now it will be interesting to see how that gamble pays off.

Posted in Endorsement Deals, Gatorade, Powerade, Sports Marketing | 1 Comment »

20 Worst Venue Names in U.S.

Posted by ZA on July 22, 2008

With the news that the Chicago Cubs’ owner the Tribune Company just received the first round of bids from potential suitors for venerable Wrigley Field, I thought it would be a good idea to examine what are some of the worst venue names in the United States today.  From the strange names to the downright stupid, we rank the top 20 worst venue names in the U.S.

Top 20 Worst Venue Names in the United States:
20. The Norva
(Norfolk, Virginia)
* Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode, “Mulva!”
19. Crocodile Rock (Allentown, Pennslyvania)
* Don’t ever name your venue after a cheesy Elton John song (ever!).
18. iPayOne Center (San Diego, California)
* Dotcom venue sponsorships often don’t work.
17. Benedum Center (Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania)
* Just sounds boring.
16. Minute Maid Park (Houston, Texas)
* I liked it better when it was Enron FIeld.
15. University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)
* Online college has nothing to do with City of Phoenix.
14. Petco Park (San Diego, California)
* Goofy name, but it keeps growing on me.
13. Mellon Arena (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
* Not named for Thornton Melon.
12. Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi, Texas)
* Great burgers, weird name for a stadium.
11. Littlejohn Coliseum (Clemson, South Carolina)
* Venues shouldn’t be named after Robin Hood characters.
10. Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, Ohio)
* Corporate naming rights gone wrong.
9. Papa Johns Stadium (Louisville, Kentucky)
* Fast food companies after second worst after dotcom companies.
8. Taco Bell Arena (Boise, Idaho)
* I wonder how often they play the “Doooooooooooooong”?
7. Energy Solutions Center (Salt Lake City, Utah)
* They could jazz up the place with a great nickname like the Power Palace.
6. Dunkin Donuts Center (Providence, Rhode Island)
* Time to make the donuts.
5. Superpages.com Center (Dallas, Texas)
* Drop the .com and it goes from horrible to just plain bad.
4. Glass Bowl Stadium (Toledo, Ohio)
* The best of the worst, my favorite bad name venue.
3. Amway Center (Orlando, Florida)
* For every ticket you buy, you have to sell 6 more to friends.
2. Bagley Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (Greenville, South Carolina)
* The Fick rocks!  I’m sure they were all great people, but the combination is horrendous.
1. Jobing.com Arena (Glendale, Arizona)
* The worst possible dotcom name they could put on a venue.

Posted in Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | 6 Comments »

USC will change name of Colonial Center

Posted by ZA on July 22, 2008

The University of South Carolina’s arena sponsor has changed their name as part of a corporate re-branding, therefore the name of USC’s multipurpose facility will change as well.  The Colonial Center will change its name to the Colonial Life Arena, to mimic the change to Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company of their benefactor.  In 2003 Colonial Life agreed to pay $5.5 million dollars over 12 years for the naming rights to the University arena.

The change is not official yet, but it is expected to be approved by the South Carolina Board of Trustees who prefer the Colonial Life Arena name more than Colonial Center.

The Colonial Life Arena opened in November 2002 under the name Carolina Center.  Its primary tenants are the University of South Carolina Gamecocks’ men’s and women’s basketball teams.  It also hosted the Columbia Stingers, a professional indoor football team, for one season before they folded.  It cost approximately $64 million to build and has seating for 18,000 fans.

Posted in Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | 2 Comments »

Hersheys is latest sweet sponsorship for NCAA

Posted by ZA on July 21, 2008

The NCAA added Hershey’s as one of the official NCAA corporate partners.  Hershey’s will receive exclusive marketing and promotional rights to the BCS Championship Game, the Final Four and other NCAA Championship events.  No details were released on the deal but the Sports Business Journal says that “NCAA corporate partnerships typically run three to five years, and go for about $10 million annually”.

Other NCAA corporate partners include:
* AT&T
* Coca-Cola
* Enterprise Rent-A-Car
* Hersheys
* Lowe’s
* Pontiac
* Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
* State Farm Insurance
* Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)

Posted in Sponsorship Deals | Leave a Comment »

Hooligans in the MLS?

Posted by ZA on July 21, 2008

I can’t for the life of me figure out why a top EPL “firm” would find it necessary to flex their muscles at a friendly with an MLS squad.  If anything you think they’d be embarrassed to even associate themselves with MLS fans, because most European soccer fans don’t view the MLS as real soccer.  That didn’t stop West Ham United supporters from starting a dust up with fans of the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium in Ohio.

If you are not familiar with the term “firm”, then you might want to check out the movie Green Street Hooligans (view Hooligans trailer).  Hooligans is all about an American kid who is exposed to the underworld of English Premier League soccer, and the “firms” that form from the fans of each club.  The movie is pretty entertaining even if it is a bit of a stretch o imagine Elijah Wood being such a tough guy.

A firm is a group of fans that follow a particular soccer club, and show their loyalty by fighting the firms of rival soccer clubs.  The members are what are commonly referred to as hooligans, and they are notorious throughout Europe for starting trouble at soccer games.  Wikipedia has a list of the known hooligan firms and what club they represent.  I have no idea how much of what firms do is fact and how much is fiction, but they have made their mark on the World soccer community.

Sidenote: I attended the premiere of Hooligans (as it was known back then) at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin a few years ago.  We attended as guests of the director, she was coming in from California and wanted a few “friends” in the audience to make sure to clap loudly.  Anyway, we wound up getting seated in the VIP section at the back of the theatre.  Right when the lights went down for the movie to start the famous hobbit himself, Elijah Wood, sneaks in and takes a seat right behind me.  I chatted with him briefly at the premiere after party (a perk we also got as VIP’s) and found him to be a really likeable guy.  I’m sticking to what I said about him being hard to imagine as a tough guy, because he’s so small, but he is a talented actor who seemed pretty well grounded.  Definitely check out the movie whenever you have a chance, just understand that there is a lot of violence in it.  Visit the official site of Green Street Hooligans by Warner Brothers.

Posted in Soccer | Leave a Comment »

Slowing economy will hinder domestic sports sponsorships

Posted by ZA on July 18, 2008

The news this past week was not good for sports marketing executives as both Budweiser and Coca-Cola announced they would be cutting costs in marketing.  Although Budweiser quickly backtracked to say their cuts “will not diminish” their large sports marketing sponsorship deals.  That just means that they aren’t going to make any large above-board cuts to their sports marketing sponsorships, but you can be dang sure they are going to start trimming from the bottom.

Plus, it certainly indicates that there will not be a lot of additional, new money flowing into new sports sponsorship deals.  If two of the biggest players in the space are cutting back their spending, then surely other companies will be following suit.  At least those companies that are located in the United States will be cutting back, there are still opportunities for foreign companies to parlay the dollars weakness against their currency into sponsorship opportunities (hello, Barclays Center).

That cutback from U.S. corporations is going to be felt across the sports landscape.  Endorsement deals will be scrutinized more and limited in scope for everyone but the top athletes (Tiger Woods isn’t worried).  Team marketing personnel who are trying to fill up in-stadium sponsorship opportunities are going to have to stretch further to find those businesses that can afford that luxury. We might even start to see outfield walls that look like the one in Bull Durham with the hit it here to win a free steak billboard…wait Shea Stadium’s outfield wall already looks that crowded.  Owners building new stadiums, like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, might have to search harder to find companies willing to shell out huge dollars to plant their name on that stadium.

Overall, these type of cutbacks in marketing dollars are going to affect the bottom line of a lot of leagues, teams, universities and athletes.  Until the economy comes around it will be more of the same, as companies try to ride out the storm and are limited in where they can spend their dollars.

Note: If fairness to Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to continue their spending, they did announce a renewal of their United State’s Olympic Committee sponsorship, and a commitment to support that with a siginificant media buy during the Beijing Games.

Posted in Money, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »