Branding the World of Sports

Archive for February, 2009

Professional sports going down the tubes

Posted by ZA on February 28, 2009

A sobering column from the normally jovial Bill Simmons on the current state of professional sports.  Simmons touches on the financial troubles the NBA is currently experiencing, and says they are only going to get worse.  The sad part is that the Sports Guy is right on target.  Professional sports are going to change over the next few years; fan attendance will plummet and some teams are going to fold.

Posted in NBA, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Who is happy that Tiger Woods is back?

Posted by ZA on February 25, 2009

What does Tiger Woods return mean to golf? Everything, because right now Tiger Woods is the face of golf.  While he was injured television ratings declined, tournament attendance was down and sales of golf merchandise slumped.  Now that Superman is back, all is right in the world of golf.

So who stands to benefit most from Tiger’s return?  There is a long line, but let’s take a look at who is the happiest this week that Mr. Woods will be teeing it up again.

* Tim Finchem – The PGA Tour Commissioner said “There is nobody that’s more pleased than me.”  Finchem went on to say that the tour performs “pretty good” without Woods, but is “great” when Tiger is playing.

* Nike – Retail golf sales have been in a slump, but there’s nothing like getting the top endorser on the planet back from injury.  Expect to see Nike Golf get a little bump that misses the rest of the industry.

* TV – The Golf Channel, NBC and even ESPN who has rights to 2009 The Masters will all benefit from Mr. Woods return.  TV ratings for golf tournaments have been slumping since last June when Woods was injured, so any news is good news for golf broadcasters.

* Accenture – One of Woods sponsors is the title sponsor for the tournament where he starts his comeback from knee surgery.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I predict a lot of people will be flipping on the television this weekend to see how Tiger is faring.

* Golf fans – A tournament without Tiger isn’t really a tournament.

Nike is so excited that Tiger is back that they have created a commercial to celebrate the event.  Below is the Nike “The Good Life” commercial that will air on the Golf Channel and ESPN networks.  The spot features Nike sponsored golfers Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink & Trevor Immelman enjoying life on the PGA Tour without Tiger Woods.

Nike Golf’s “The Good Life” commercial

Posted in ESPN, Golf, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing, Sports Television | 2 Comments »

Golf retailers need mulligan for 2009

Posted by ZA on February 24, 2009

Brandweek story about the rough year ahead for some of the retail brands in golf.  Their experts say that too many new products are bring introduced into the market.  They say that the top handful of brands will feel the pinch, but are the ones that have the best chance to survive the downturn.  Also mention how pricing is a key to many of those brands, saying how Cleveland is doing well on their $299 drivers but not on more expensive varieties.

They say that rounds of golf being played were down almost 2% in 2008 and down over 5% since the peak in 2001.  Retail sales of golf equipment were down almost 3% in 2008.  Tough times for the golf industry, although hope is on the way with Tiger Woods set to return to play this week.  That should give golf’s television ratings a shot in the arm and even help stimulate some sales of golf equipment.

Will you be playing much golf in 2009?

Posted in Golf | Leave a Comment »

Economy expected to worsen in 2009

Posted by ZA on February 23, 2009

An Associated Press story on the negative report released by the National Association for Business Economics.  They are forecasting a worse economy in 2009 than originally predicted and expect the unemployment rate could surpass 10%.  If that comes true it will be the worse contraction of the US economy in over 25 years.


If you are looking for the silver lining in this otherwise gloomy story, it is that they expect the economy to start to rebound in the second half of 2009.  They say the growth will not be substantial, but it will be positive growth.  Goes on to say that things should be in much better shape in 2010, although the unemployment rate could stay high to start the year.

Another positive thought to keep in-mind; if you are good at what you do, then there will still be demand for you.  Companies still need talent, even in a hiring freeze, but they are only going to hire the top talent.  So make sure you are that person.

No way to know how accurate these predictions are, but pretty much everyone is saying its going to be a rough Spring and Summer.  Time for everyone to put our heads down and work hard to ride out this economic tsunami.

Posted in Random Stuff | 1 Comment »

Rules for Endorsement Deals during a Recession

Posted by ZA on February 22, 2009

The stock market is straining, banks are failing and most of the World’s economies are sputtering.  The downturn is causing many companies to cut back on their marketing budget, but you can’t stop everything.  You still have a product to sell; you still have a brand to build.  For years companies like Nike, Adidas, Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s and Gillette have furthered their brands by investing heavily in sports sponsorships and endorsement deals.  Now, the question facing those companies and many others is, do we continue to spend on endorsement deals even during a recession?


The answer is unequivocally yes.  If you have built your brand on sponsorships and endorsement deals, then pulling out is going to stunt that growth.  Big companies need to market their brand, their competition will pass them by if they only focus on ROI.  That’s because ROI marketing is building your coffers today, while brand marketing is going to increase your earnings capacity down the road.  But if you are a company that has built your brand on the back of sports sponsorships and endorsements, there are new rules to play by during a recession.

1. Take risks. Now is the best time to land that one big deal that has always alluded you.  That venue name sponsorship, signing up a mega sports star to an endorsement deal or aligning your brand with a professional sports league.  Do it now!  Why?  Because money is cheap right now so you can buy more than you normally could.  Leagues, teams and athletes are trying to generate more cash right now, just like the rest of us.  So that deal you were quoted at X price in 2007 is now attainable at half X price.  Citigroup’s $20 million dollars per year naming rights deal at Citi Field in New York raises eyebrows today, but in the long-term that deal will help to grow their business.  Although Citigroup is probably wishing they inked that deal today rather than 2006, if they did they could have probably gotten the deal at 30% less than they paid.

2. Drive a hard bargain. Don’t accept the first offer and don’t be afraid to walk away.  These rules should apply for negotiations during prosperous times as well, but many people don’t have the guts to walk away from a deal.  The key difference today is there is less competition bidding on the deal you want, so if you walk the deal might fall apart entirely.  The guy on the other side of the table knows that, so he’s more likely these days to agree to your terms.  And just because you are getting a really good deal (say $0.50 cents on the dollar) doesn’t mean you cannot get a great deal (maybe $0.20 cents on the dollar).  You never want to burn bridges, but that does not mean you cannot push to get the best deal possible.  The best way to save money on these deals is to not pay more than they are worth in the current economy.

3. Maximize your current deals. Don’t spend so much time looking for your next deal that you forget about the deals you’ve already got.  The same way new deals are more negotiable during a recession, so too are elements of your existing deals.  Asking for more in your current deal is not akin to breaking the deal.  In fact you may be surprised how many more miles you can get out of existing deals just because your partners have the inventory available.  Well that, and the fact that they don’t want to risk losing your deal.  Remember these words: don’t be afraid to ask.

So use these rules to help guide you through the troubled times we’re living in.  Doing so will insure that your brand stays strong through the recession, and help you position yourself to grab market share from the competition once the economy is strong again.

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

Say goodbye to Texas Stadium

Posted by ZA on February 20, 2009

The Dallas Cowboys played their last game at Texas Stadium in December 2008.  Now it is time for fans to pay their last respects before it is gone forever.  Texas Stadium will be demolished soon to make way for a new development project in Irving, that will include an outlet mall.

But this weekend Irving residents can get a jump on spending before the outlet mall is even built.  The Texas Stadium fanfest will let fans bid on and buy memorable from the stadium.  My favorite line from the DMN article: “The event will feature something many Cowboys fans never thought they’d live to see: free parking and admission.”  I think that jab was aimed directly at Jerry Jones.

Posted in Venue Information | Leave a Comment »

Athletes that endorse Under Armour

Posted by ZA on February 18, 2009

Under Armour has been expanding its product line to include performance footwear and running shoes.  UA has also been signing up a slew of athletes to endorse their expanding line of products.  Below are a few of the top US pro athletes that currently have or recently have held endorsement deals with Under Armour.

Under Armour

Under Armour

MLB players that endorse Under Armour:
Jeff Francoeur – Atlanta Braves
Francisco Liriano – Minnesota Twins
Nick Markakis – Baltimore Orioles
Jose Reyes – NY Mets
Alfonso Soriano – Chicago Cubs
Jeff Samardzjia – Chicago Cubs
Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals

NFL athletes with Under Armour endorsement deals:
Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
AJ Hawk – Green Bay Packers
Devin Hester – Chicago Bears
Julius Jones – Seattle Seahawks
Patrick Kerney – Seattle Seahawks
Ray Lewis – Baltimore Ravens
Joe Thomas – Cleveland Browns
Tommy Tuberville – former Auburn Head Coach
Jonathan Vilma – NY Jets
Patrick Willis – San Francisco 49ers

Basketball players that endorse Under Armour:
Brandon Jennings – currently playing in Europe

Other athletes that endorse Under Armour:
Jeremy Bloom – skiing
Cat Osterman – softball
Kimmie Meissner – figure skating

College Sports Teams with Under Armour sponsorship deals:

Auburn Tigers
Hawaii Warriors
Maryland Terrapins
North Texas Mean Green
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Florida Bulls
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Utah Utes
Other UA college sponsorship deals on the Under Armour Wikipedia page.

Buy Under Armour products online.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Sports Brands | 16 Comments »

OKC Thunder finally put their name on display

Posted by ZA on February 17, 2009

You know it was a “midnight run” from Seattle to Oklahoma City when the team didn’t even have time to put their name on the court.  The new ownership snuck out of Seattle so quick that they did not have time to finish fixing up their new home in OKC.  All this time they’ve been playing as “Oklahoma City”; now they finally get to play on a court that says Oklahoma City Thunder.

By the way my favorite NBA star, Kevin Durant, has been playing great ball this year.  And at least one guy is starting to talk about it…a lot!  If he ever gets situated in a major media market Durant’s endorsement potential could go through the roof.  Because besides being an extremely talented ballplayer, he’s a great guy as well.

Posted in NBA, Stadium Signage | Leave a Comment »

Nike is feeling the squeeze in 2009

Posted by ZA on February 11, 2009

The Portland Oregonian reports that Nike will cut almost 5% of its global work force due to the recession.  The layoffs will affect up to 1,400 of their 35,000 employees and are the first for Nike since the late 90’s.

Nike CEO Mark Parker said, “The decision to reduce our work force is a difficult one, but it will put our business in the strongest position possible to continue to deliver long-term profitability and growth.”

Shares of Nike fell on the news of the layoffs.  Nike trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NKE”.

Maybe my prediction that Nike will acquire Under Armour will have to wait until 2010.



Posted in Nike | Leave a Comment »

Why is it a big deal that ARod did steriods?

Posted by ZA on February 10, 2009

Yes, I was surprised that Alex Rodriguez admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) aka: steriods.  But why is it such a big deal that ARod took roids?  Is it because he’s one of the biggest stars in the game? Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were huge stars, and they all appear to have been users.

ARod is getting hammered because he’s not very well liked.  He’s a highly paid, successful ball player that seems to only care about his own image.  Which he seems to value more than winning.  He’s arrogant and he’s not a great clubhouse guy like so many other ball players.  Him admitting to using has just given people another thing to bash him about; only this time it is justified bashing.  Come on Alex, do you really expect me to believe you only took them for 3 years and then stopped? You had a change of heart after cheating for 3 years, but then kept it to yourself for all of these years.  I’m not buying ARod’s story, and I have always enjoyed him as a ball player.  You might even say I was a fan of his.

Personally I shouldn’t have been surprised because at this point it appears that just about everyone in Major League Baseball has been using PEDs for the last two decades.  Truthfully there are probably hundreds dozens of Major League Baseball players who have NOT used PEDs, but at this point everyone in baseball looks suspicious.

The one MLB player who I think might not be using PEDs? Derek Jeter.  Call it a hunch.  Probably because Jeter has always embodied the gamer attitude to me.  He loves the game, so he would never to do something to tarnish himself or MLB.  Would he?  I hope Jeter never comes out and says he used PEDs, because if that ever happens I will probably never be able to watch another Major League Baseball game.

I already lost respect for a couple of players I once admired; Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.  I was a fan of both players, but now am ashamed to admit I cheered for them.  I’m a big Cubs fan, but no longer form the same admiration for their players that I once did for Grace, Maddux, Wood and (gulp) Sosa.  Fool me once…

So once the ARod furor dies down, it is my sincere hope that some investigative journalist does not come out with a scathing piece accusing Jeter of using PEDs.  That might be too much for me, and baseball, to handle.

Which current Major League Baseball players do you think are clean?  Which do you think are NOT using PEDs?

Posted in MLB | Leave a Comment »