Branding the World of Sports

Archive for January, 2009

Coca-Cola reinvents the wheel for Superbowl

Posted by ZA on January 28, 2009

No wait, they are NOT reinventing the wheel.  Rather than innovating, Coke is going to copy something that was successful for them before.  I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even when you are imitating yourself.

Mean Joe Greene and Coca-Cola are making a return to the Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola is doing a knock off of their famous Mean Joe Greene commercial for Super Bowl 43.  The spot will feature Troy Polamalu drinking a Coke Zero.    The commercial is a remake of the famous 1980 commercial that is widely regarded as one of the best sports commercials of all-time.  I ranked the Mean Joe Greene Coke spot in the top 8 sports commercials of all-time.

How much should you pay your ad agency when they basically rehash one of your original ideas?  I hope Coca-Cola got a cut rate from Crispin, Porter & Bogusky for putting this one together.

Posted in Athletes, NFL, Sports Brands | Leave a Comment »

Super Bowl commercials a good investment

Posted by ZA on January 26, 2009

Good article from AdAge about the value of a commercial during the Super Bowl.  While many scoff at spending $3 million dollars on one 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl, there is a lot of value that can be derived.  The key is to make sure the campaign stacks up beyond the commercial.  There needs to be sufficient support behind the spot to make sure consumers are being engaged after the spot is done.  Most Super Bowl advertisers are now bringing the viewers to their website in order to expand upon the commercial they aired.

Reasons to advertise during the Super Bowl:

* The Super Bowl is an event where the viewers are excited to see the commercials.  No one speeds through them or leaves the room when they are on.  So it is a chance to get across a message that will be willingly received by millions of potential consumers of your product.

* The buzz around Super Bowl commercials goes well beyond the game.  The media covers the spots that will air before the game kicks off, and then rates them afterwards.  Millions of dollars of additional exposure are picked up by advertisers of the Super Bowl from the additional media spotlight on the commercials.  Then you also have to add up the residual benefits of being a part of the water cooler conversation in every office in America.  The next day people are talking about the Super Bowl commercials – which they liked, which ones they disliked.  That conversation is invaluable to the brands that paid for Super Bowl spots.

* The internet is a big key to effective Super Bowl advertising.  Many of the marketers paying for a spot in the big game are using creative web campaigns or viral marketing campaigns to keep the conversations going after the game ends. Hyundai said they gained 25,000 viable leads from visitors to their website after the 2008 Super Bowl.  Lead generation is a huge reason to play a Super Bowl ad.

* The Super Bowl is the ultimate brand builder.  Established companies like Anheuser-Busch use the game to further their brand in consumers minds.  People already know A-B brands like Budwesier, but the Super Bowl ads give A-B a chance to create feelings towards their brand.  Or A-B can expose consumers to a new story about their products or brand.  The Super Bowl acts as “king maker” towards up-and-coming companies that advertise during the big game.  The brands of GoDaddy, CareerBuilder and SalesGenie were put on the map by the advertisements they ran during the Super Bowl.  GoDaddy has ridden their Super Bowl success to almost 50% market share in their category.

So when you are watching the big game this Sunday, remember to think about the brands that are making a statement when the commercials come on.  You are going to help make or break that $3 million investment from the company advertising during the Super Bowl.

Posted in NFL, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing, Sports Television | Leave a Comment »

Did Under Armour default on deal with Cubs?

Posted by ZA on January 23, 2009

This appears to be turning into a case of ‘he said, she said’ between the Chicago Cubs and Under Armour. The argument is whether UA reneged on a sponsorship deal they signed with the Cubs or the Cubs cancelled the deal. The original deal was supposed to be 3-years and included in-stadium signage for Under Armour on the outfield walls at Wrigley Field.  2009 would have been the third year of the deal.

The Cubs fired first saying that UA was backing out of the deal and reneging on a promised extension. Supposedly Under Armour sent a letter to the Cubs in December saying that they would not pay for the deal in 2009.

Now the Sports Business Journal reports that Under Armour responded that the Cubs are the one’s who cancelled their deal. A Under Armour spokesman said the Cubs wanted to renegotiate before the original deal was done, and the two sides could not agree on an extension.  UA says that then the Cubs were the one’s that cancelled the third year of their original 3-year deal.

Who to believe in this situation? I would guess that both sides have a point, but it sounds to me like the Cubs might have accepted a verbal agreement that UA is not willing to honor anymore (the 5-year extension).  The fallout from that seems to have prompted someone to cancel the remaining year on their existing deal.  My guess is court documents will reveal shortly whether that was Under Armour or the Cubs.

The question in my mind is that if Under Armour defaulted on their sponsorship deal due to poor performance.  Could that be a sign that they are in bigger trouble financial (given the current economic crisis) than they are letting on.  And could that mean that my predicted acquisition of Under Armour by Nike could happen in 2009.  Stay tuned…

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, MLB, Sponsorship Deals, Stadium Signage | Leave a Comment »

NBA changes ad decision on liquor

Posted by ZA on January 22, 2009

“Better the devil that you know than the devil that you don’t know.”  I think that expression is apt for this story.

Due to the tough economic times the NBA has decided to reverse its ban against in-stadium liquor signage.  The ban prevented liquor advertisements from being located courtside, or anywhere else in the stadium that could wind up being seen on a television broadcast.  Teams were previously allowed to sign deals with liquor companies, but had to restrict the signage to areas out of view of tv cameras.

The NBA is not the only league to go down this path.  Major League Baseball, Nascar and the NHL all have previously overturned this same regulation in their own leagues.  They now allow liquor advertisers to position themselves so that they will appear on those leagues television broadcasts.

Although these decision are assuredly not popular with organizations like MADD, they are necessary to keep new sponsor dollars coming in during this recession.  Liquor sales are not going to be greatly impacted by the downturn, so that segment is one of the few that has sponsorship dollars to spend.

I can’t blame the NBA, in these tough financial times you have to do whatever is possible to stay afloat.  They are choosing to take the dollars available to them rather than face the unknown consequences of not getting that money.

Posted in MLB, Nascar, NBA, NHL, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing, Stadium Signage | 2 Comments »

Under Armour opens up about their brand

Posted by ZA on January 21, 2009

Under Armour’s brand guru opens up in this interview with Brandweek about what they have planned for 2009.  Smart time for UA to grab some market share in the running shoe market.  They aren’t going to attract the hardcore marathon runners, but they can peel off some of the casual running shoe fans.  I’m not a runner, but do wear running shoes every weekend as my ‘getting around town’ shoes.  Nike has always been my choice, but I’ve also never thought much of the competition.  If UA can put out a good product, then they might even have the chance to convert a hardcore Nike fan like me.

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

Monster dumps American rider for Italian

Posted by ZA on January 19, 2009

Monster Energy drink, a popular drink made in Corona, California, has agreed to a sponsorship deal with Italian motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi.  Rossi is the current MotoGP world champion and one of the most successful racers of all-time, having won eight grand prix world championships.  The two-year deal is reportedly worth over $1.5 million dollars per season, and includes an additional bonus if Rossi wins a world championship during the contract.

The contract with Monster adds to the long list of lucrative endorsement deals which already make Rossi one of the richest athletes in the World.  It is estimated that Rossi pulls in over $30 million dollars per year.  Including endorsement deals with Acer, Bridgestone, Fiat and Yamaha.

The deal means that Monster will have to either cut ties, or significantly reduce their deal with American motorcycle rider John Hopkins.  Tough decision for Monster to drop a kid who grew up racing in California just a few hours from where Monster energy drink was born.  But today we live in a global economy and Monster had to take the opportunity to get in with the top brand in MotoGP.

Posted in Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Reebok cuts 3% of global workforce

Posted by ZA on January 15, 2009

Reebok becoming Adidas?

Reebok becoming Adidas?

Reebok announced that they are cutting 310 of their 8,500 workers due to poor “retail operating conditions and the global economy”.  Reebok President said they took steps to meet their 2009 goals.  I don’t relish being right when it means people are losing their jobs, but I wonder if this is the first step that gets us to my prediction that Reebok’s brand will be eliminated.  One of my 2009 bold predictions for sports marketing was that Adidas would convert all of Reebok’s brand into Adidas in order to better compete with Nike.

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

USA in a depression…but we now have college football playoff!

Posted by ZA on January 14, 2009

Okay so that headline was a bit too sensational.  We are neither in a depression, nor do we have a college football playoff.  And I’m not one of those alarmists who is going to tell you life as we know it is over, because our economy is about to come crashing down.  Although I do think it’s going to be 6-9 months before our economy comes out of this downturn.

But my point in that headline is the same one I’ve made a few times lately.  Don’t our politicians have more important things to address than the lack of a playoff system in NCAA college football? And I’m asking that even as a huge fan of college football.

The reason I ask is because another prominent politician has announced that he plans to spend time working for a college football playoff.  New York Democrat, Edolphus Towns, is the incoming Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  Towns has said “he will hold hearings and possibly subpoena NCAA officials, college presidents, players, coaches and athletic directors” in order to “force” a college football playoff.

Towns said, “Nobody questions the Super Bowl…I think we can have the same thing at the college level.

As a fan of college football, I’m thrilled.  As a US taxpayer, I’m wondering why these Washington politicians are not tackling tougher issues.  On the Oversight and Government Reform website they list their “Key Issues” as:
* Environment
* Iraq Reconstruction
* Administration Oversight
* Waste, Fraud and Abuse
* White House E-mails

I guess the need for a college football playoff falls under the “Admin Oversight” bucket, or maybe they are planning to add “College Football Advocates” to their list of key issues.  But otherwise I can’t help but think they should be focused on a few of the other topics on their plate.  It’s not like the environment, fraud and Iraq are not hot button issues right now, that need all of the attention they can get.

So if you are reading this Edolphus, I appreciate the love for college football playoff.  But you politicians get back to solving some of the countries bigger issues (e.g.- Wall Street fraud, global warming, war in Iraq).  The fans of college football (like me) will work with the sports media, coaches, school administrators and NCAA jokers to get a playoff in college football.

Posted in College Football | Leave a Comment »

Olympic sponsors dropping like flies

Posted by ZA on January 10, 2009

Home Depot announced they are not continuing their sponsorship of the Olympic Games.  Home Depot has been an Olympic sponsor since 1992, and spent millions with the USOC on a jobs program for athletes.  The program allowed Olympic athletes to work part-time at Home Depot, but paid them as full-time employees and offered them benefits. The program allowed the athletes time to train for their Olympic sport, while still earning a living.

There has been a lot of rumbling, but will this be the move that prompts other corporations to bail on the Olympics?  Are marketing executives at Coca-Cola, Kodak, McDonald’s and Visa considering similar moves?  Those are all sponsors who have spent in excess of $50 million dollars to sponsor the Olympic Games.

Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Lenovo and Xerox are sponsors who already announced their decision not to renew their deals after the Beijing Games.  Kodak said the reason was because “it’s just not the best way for us to spend our money”.  Other sponsors have yet to commit dollars to continue their Olympic sponsorship.  And sponsorships for Vancouver 2010 have come under scrutiny, like the $70 million that struggling automaker General Motors has committed to provide.

I expect more Olympic sponsors to reduce their levels of commitment.  The Olympics will still have a full slate of sponsors, but the dollars will be less than in previous years.  Beijing sponsorship levels will remain the high point, although London could push that record.  In the meantime we’ll see a changing of the guard as many traditional Olympic sponsors exit, opening up the door for new corporations to get involved…albeit at lower dollars.

Currently global Olympic sponsors include:
General Electric
Manulife Financial (renewal pending)

What companies could step up to sponsor the 2012 London Olympics?  What about Rio in 2016?

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

MJ responds to criticism of price for Air Jordan’s

Posted by ZA on January 9, 2009

Michael Jordan will always be one of my favorite athletes, but he needs to give it up on this argument.  In response to his new Air Jordan 2009 basketball shoes being priced at $190.00 per pair, Jordan told CNBC.

“When you built the best product, you feel like it has a certain value.  I mean, you don’t go buy a Ferrari and expect a Volkswagen price.” – Michael Jordan

Michael, a lot more people are buying Volkswagen’s these days than Ferrari’s.  Maybe you should have thought about that when you were pricing your 2009 basketball shoes.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Nike | Leave a Comment »