Branding the World of Sports

Archive for February, 2009

No more Ticketmaster?

Posted by ZA on February 9, 2009

No, they are not going away entirely as many concert music fans would hope.  But Ticketmaster is dropping their name in their merger with Live Nation.

From the WSJ article on the merger: “The new entity is to be called Live Nation Entertainment Inc. — not Live Nation Ticketmaster, as previously reported…”

I assume the change of plans that has them dropping Ticketmaster from the name of the new company is all about brand.  Ticketmaster is the bigger, more well known entity in this merger.  But the TM brand has been tarnished for years, most recently with the Bruce Springsteen fiasco with Ticketmaster and Ticketsnow.  Rebranding the company under the Live Nation name as “Live Nation Entertainment” gives TM a fresh start.

Smart move for Ticketmaster.  Not only are they eliminating their biggest competitive threat (Live Nation), but they are getting to start over with a new brand name.

Posted in Tickets | Leave a Comment »

How does race affect Super Bowl MVP endorsements?

Posted by ZA on February 6, 2009

Does race affect whether a Super Bowl MVP will receive prime endorsements?

AdAge has an interesting article on why 2009 Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes, will probably not rake in huge endorsement dollars.  The reasons that AdAge says Holmes won’t get the big deals is because he lacks “marketability”.  They go on to say that his position and off-field problems will “relegate Mr. Holmes to the fate such players” that previously won the Super Bowl MVP but were not able to cash in on “national endorsement deals”.

The players AdAge compared Santonio’s plight to are: Deion Branch, Dexter Jackson, Larry Brown, Richard Dent, Desmond Howard and Hines Ward.  Only three of those players named play Wide Receiver, the other three were defensive players.  None standout as having excessive off-field problems like Santonio does.  But what they do all have in common is they are black (African-American).

Did AdAge shy away from the elephant in the room here? Does race play a part in deciding which Super Bowl MVP’s are going to get the big deals? Perhaps.  There is no way of knowing whether Santonio would be marketable if he didn’t have the off-field issues, because he does have a long list of them.  But the Super Bowl MVP’s who they compare him to cannot be brushed aside due to off-the-field issues.

I do think there is a strong argument that a players football position plays a factor in endorsement deals.  Quarterbacks have always been the darlings of Madison Avenue, so there is no doubt they tend draw more endorsement dollars.  But there is a little bit of a chicken/egg thing there because quarterbacks have until recently almost always been white.  So that kind of skews the question of how position effects endorsement dollars, at least until Donovan McNabb or Vince Young win a Super Bowl MVP.  The only black quarterback to win the Super Bowl MVP award was Doug Williams back in 1988, which is too far back to compare to today’s modern endorsement environment.

So what is my point? First, AdAge is right that Santonio is probably not going to get the big endorsement dollars because of his checkered past.  But I think AdAge overlooked the affect race could have on the process.  Although I hate to play the “race card”, I think it is likely enough to at least deserve to be mentioned.

Do I want to get into a debate about whether racism exists in the sports endorsement world?
Not particularly, but I think AdAge made it relevant to discuss because they avoided it in their piece.  They might have at least mentioned that of the last ten Super Bowl MVP’s, the white guys have raked in way more national endorsements than the black guys.  Ranking those last ten MVPs by endorsement success shows an interesting trend.  The trend is that the white Super Bowl MVPs almost always make more endorsement dollars than black athletes.

Peyton Manning (2007), Tom Brady (2004) and Eli Manning (2008] are the top pitchmen on the list.  Then Ray Lewis (2001) slides in ahead of aging Kurt Warner (2000) to buck the trend slightly.  After that you can group Holmes (2009), Hines Ward (2006), Deion Branch (2005), and Dexter Jackson (2003) at the same level.  So the white guys take four of the top five spots, and the bottom five spots are all black football players.

Is it the QB thing or the white thing? Impossible to know, but it sure looks like black Super Bowl MVPs are getting the short end of the stick compared to their Anglo counterparts.  I think AdAge should have at least mentioned it in their article.

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

Smoking pot costs Phelps cereal deal

Posted by ZA on February 5, 2009

Kellogg’s announced they are not going to renew their endorsement contract with Michael Phelps.  They say the reason is that Phelps “recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg”.  Duh!  Obviously they don’t want their brand associated with illicit behavior, but I wonder if this incident gave Kellogg a convenient excuse to skip out on their deal.  They have every right not to renew their deal, which expires at the end of this month, but now they exit on moral grounds rather than financial.  Makes it sound better to say we don’t want to associate ourselves, rather than say we don’t have the money to justify this deal.

Regardless, Phelps and Kellogg will soon be no longer.  I wonder if another cereal will make a run at Phelps.  Perhaps one that is more associated with having the munchies.

Posted in Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Olympics | Leave a Comment »

NBC rakes in cash from the Super Bowl

Posted by ZA on February 5, 2009

NBC sold $206 million worth of Super Bowl advertising for the 2009 game.  That is a record amount for any Super Bowl.  For the day, including pregame and postgame shows, NBC sold over $260 million worth of television advertising.

NBC lost a number of high profile advertisers including General Motors and Fedex, but still had 32 advertisers involved.  Including a few new Super Bowl advertisers like Cash4Gold, Hulu, Pedigree and Teleflora.  Advertisers for the 2009 Super Bowl paid close to $3 million dollars per commercial.

2009 Super Bowl Advertisers:
* Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser, Bud Light)
* Audi
* Bridgestone
* CareerBuilder
* Castrol Motor Oil
* Coca-Cola
* Columbia Pictures
* Denny’s
* Dreamworks
* E-Trade
* PepsiCo (Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi, SoBe)
* General Electric
* Heineken
* H&R Block
* Hulu
* Hyundai
* Kellogg’s
* Nextel
* Paramount Pictures
* Pedigree
* Pixar
* Sony
* Sprint
* Taco Bell
* Teleflora
* Toyota
* Universal Orlando Resort
* Vizio
* Walt Disney Pictures

Posted in NBC, NFL, Sports Marketing, Sports Television | Leave a Comment »

Will Citi walk on $400 million Mets deal?

Posted by ZA on February 3, 2009

Will Citigroup walk away from their 20-year, $400 million dollar to have the exclusive naming rights to the new baseball stadium of the New York Mets?

In a word, no.  There is no way that Citi could legally maneuver out of the deal unless they were able to become insolvent.  The Wall Street Journal reports that they looked into whether they could remove themselves from the deal, but I think that was just posturing to keep government regulators happy.  When Mets fans walk in for the 2009 home opener against the San Diego Padres on April 13th, they will be walking in under the Citi Field banner.

Posted in MLB, Venue Naming Rights | Leave a Comment »

More on Phelps screwing up his reputation

Posted by ZA on February 3, 2009

As I’ve stated, I don’t think this will have a significant impact on his endorsement potential.  Will cool him off for a time while he’s in “time out”, but he’ll be hot as ever by the time London 2012 rolls around.

But Andy Beal has an interesting article on how Phelps marijuana photo is going to overshadow his positive accomplishments on the web.  Read it here.
Sports Business Daily also has a ton of opinions on what Phelps dope smoking will mean to his future.

Posted in Athletes, Olympics | 2 Comments »

Smoking weed is strike two for Michael Phelps

Posted by ZA on February 2, 2009

A British newspaper recently ran a photo of swimming sensation Michael Phelps taking a hit from a bong at a party.  The picture was titled “What a Dope” and implied that Phelps was smoking marijuana from the bong.  Since the photo was released Phelps has come out with a statement acknowledging his “regrettable” behavior, which basically confirms that Michael was indeed smoking weed.

Now that it is clear that Phelps was participating in an illegal activity, the question is how will it effect his reputation?

My opinion is that it will have very little long-term impact on his endorsement deals.  I think he’ll be in a temporary “time out” where no new endorsement deals are announced.  But by the time London 2012 rolls around Phelps will once again be the ‘golden boy’ of Olympic endorsement deals.

I think the fact that Phelps is a young, white, seemingly wholesome athlete who represents the entire USA against the world makes him untouchable as far as sponsors go.  Meaning they want to do business with him so badly that most are willing to overlook a few transgressions.  He is still the athlete they want representing their country and dating their daughters.  So what if he likes to party a little bit, they’ll chalk that up to the youthful indiscretions.

And you better believe that it helps Michael that he is a young, white, handsome athlete that competes in a sport that invokes great patriotism.  People were proud that Phelps won those 8 gold medals in Beijing.  He was representing all Americans against the world, and he was a symbol of our strength.  Phelps was a world beater, which makes him easy to forgive.

His All-American looks and smile are something that sponsors can relate to, so he’s going to remain the darling of sports marketing unless he screws up again.  Recall this is his second brush with the law; Phelps received a DUI when he was 19 years old.  Did you hear much about that DUI during the Beijing Olympics?  Nope, and you won’t hear much about the drug charge (at least in US media) during the 2012 London Olympics.

This commentary might come off sounding a bit critical of Phelps and the sponsors who pay them.  It is not intended to be critical, but merely to point out that in our society we are quick to forgive the seemingly wholesome, successful athlete with the megawatt smile.  While we often condemn the one we do not understand.  How else do explain the heat Barry Bonds takes over steroids while Mark McGwire gets a hall pass?  It is not just a black/white issue, although I do think race plays a part.  It’s a matter of who we relate to.  Most Americans relate more to McGwire and Phelps, so they are quicker to forgive them (or overlook) their transgressions.

Posted in Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Olympics, Sports Brands | 1 Comment »