Branding the World of Sports

Archive for May, 2009

Best way to pass time during a rain delay?

Posted by ZA on May 27, 2009

Best way to pass the time during a rain delay at a baseball game?
How about a dance off on the field between the two squads.

Not what you normally see when you head to the ballpark, but entertaining all the same.  This was a impromptu dance off that broke out during the rain delay in the UConn versus South Florida college baseball game.

Most of these guys will never play in the Major Leagues, but they certainly have the bravado to go far in life.

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Wrigley Field expansion on the horizon

Posted by ZA on May 26, 2009

Wrigley Field has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916.  The park was build in 1914 at a cost of $250,000.  It currently seats just over 40,000 people.  It is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, just behind Fenway Park which opened in 1912.  Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic sports venues in the World.  So naturally it is constantly at the center of debates of how to change it for the better.

Andrew Ziola who runs a website devoted to building a public park in Wrigleyville across from the famous ballpark.  Andrew’s idea goes in contrast to what the Cubs and City of Chicago have agreed upon, a project called the Triangle building.  The purpose of the Triangle building is to provide to more revenue generation opportunities for the ball club, by building restaurants and other stores that would be accessible by fans throughout the year.

I think we know which concept has won; the writing is already on the wall that the Cubs will build the Triangle building.  It’s just a matter of when the new Cubs ownership kicks in the money to start the project.  Something the Tribune’s architecture critic, Blair Kamin, has said the Cubs need to do right away.  Someone just needs to break the bad news to Mr. Ziola.

I applaud Ziola for pushing forward a different concept, one that is more earth friendly and therefore greener than the alternative.  One that will obviously do more for the residents of Wrigleyville, who could get year round use out of a park.  But the problem with his ideas is that the Cubs and city are most interested in is the green that comes on dollar bills.  They need to develop the land across from Wrigley into the Triangle in order to house some of the amenities that many other modern stadiums can incorporate into their building.  Wrigley Field is a historic monument, so that limits the scope of changes that can be made to the structure.  There is no way to have the restaurants and shops unless the Cubs convert the parking lot across the street.  So it truly is the right decision for the Cubs to build the Triangle.  A park would be great, but unfortunately it cannot generate the revenue that a retail development can.  That’s just the world we live in and money helps make the world go round.

You can follow Andrew Ziola’s quest on Twitter (@wrigleyfield4u).   Follow BrandDunk on Twitter (@BrandDunk).

Posted in MLB, Stadium Construction, Venue Information | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

When are things going to turn around for Yankees?

Posted by ZA on May 15, 2009

It’s been a tough start for the new era of the New York Yankees.  Before training camp even started they had to deal with the Alex Rodriguez steroids controversy.  Since then they’ve struggled on the field, handing out home runs like the dentist hands out free toothpaste samples.  They’ve been blasted by fans and media for their overpriced premium tickets.  And they’ve discovered potential flaws in the design of their stadium that are the cause of all of the home runs.  If they could take a mulligan on 2009, I think George Steinbrenner definitely would.

Today’s latest Yankee bashing comes from the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ chronicles some of the problems that are plaguing new Yankee Stadium and what the team can do to overcome them.  There are some good quotes in the article from John McHale Jr. who was an executive with the Detroit Tigers when they opened Comerica Park in 2000.  McHale Jr says a team must, “…sit and watch and determine whether something unusual is built in.”  Doing that with the Tigers convinced them to shorten their outfield fences, which made the park more friendly to home run hitters.  That move is part of what helped the Tigers win a World Series in 2006.

Will the Yankees brass have the balls to make changes to their $1.5B baseball palace? It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, hopefully the Steinbrenners won’t be afraid to make changes.  They already lowered prices on their premium seats, which is a good start.  But there are other changes they probably need to make to get the Yankees back at the top of the heap.

For the record, my prediction is that the Yankees will make the playoffs this season.  I even think they have a good shot at making a run to the World Series if their pitching comes together.  Of course I’m the same guy that picked a Yankees versus Chicago Cubs World Series in 2008, so maybe my biases are overshadowing my good judgement.

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New Dallas Cowboys stadium called Cowboys stadium

Posted by ZA on May 13, 2009

This one was almost too predictable to even mention, but the Dallas Cowboys have decided to name their new stadium Cowboys Stadium.  The new Cowboys Stadium will host its first NFL football game this Fall.  It replaces Texas Stadium which was the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Irving for the past few decades.

The writing has probably been on the wall for some time on this decision.  I think Jerry Jones originally had visions of a 8 figure per year naming rights deal with AT&T or some other corporation.  When the economy tanked those deals dried up, which is why the Cowboys are going with a non-corporate name right now.  I expect Jerry will continue to shop a naming-rights deal to anyone corporations interested in partnering with “America’s Team”.  The opportunity to associate a corporate brand with one of the finest stadiums in the world is too great a chance for exposure to stay on the shelf for long.  I expect it’ll stay as Cowboys Stadium for the start of this season, but at some point this season or next Spring a major deal will be announced that provides some corporation with venue naming right for Cowboys Stadium.

Posted in New Venues, NFL, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Beijing Opening was most watched live event in TV history

Posted by ZA on May 11, 2009

If you added up the entire population of the countries that make up North & South America, they still would not equal the number of people that watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  The Times of London is reporting that nearly 1 billion people (984 million) tuned in to watch all or part of the kickoff event from the Summer Games in China. And the report from Futures Sport + Entertainment does not account for people that watched in public places, which easily pushes the number over a billion.

That makes the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies the most watched live event in the history of television.  More people tuned in to the Birds Nest (venue that housed the event) than had ever watched a Super Bowl, World Cup Final or other sporting event in the past.  The billion viewers number also greatly surpasses the largest non-live television audience, which was approximately 100 million viewers for the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983.

The folks at NBC must be pretty excited to be a big part of that historic event.  Even with technology enabling more of the World to have access to television, it is hard to imagine any upcoming event surpassing this record.  At least until 2012 rolls around and we have the Opening Ceremonies for the London Games.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in NBC, Olympics, Sports Television | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Michael Vick using PETA as road to NFL redemption

Posted by ZA on May 9, 2009

Is Michael Vick going to be a spokesman for PETA when he gets out prison?

It could happen according to an AdAge article on the on-going discussions between PETA and Vick’s management team. Vick’s handlers have proposed the idea and PETA is willing to consider if Vick is willing to undergo a psychological examination.  No word yet whether Vick is willing to subject to the examination, which could be the downfall of this deal.

The thought of Michael Vick becoming a spokesman for PETA probably turns the stomachs of many their supporters, but if Vick is rehabilitated then he could be an asset.  Who can better relate to the mentality within the dog fighting community than someone who’s been there?  That knowledge combined with Vick’s stature could make him someone that can positively influence kids involved in dog fighting.  Vick’s fall from grace is a story that might keep some of them from participating in dog fighting.  That opportunity is one that no one at PETA can currently offer.  It’s a chance for PETA to help curb the sport from the inside.

For Vick working for PETA could speed up his return from exile.  To get back to anywhere near what he once had will be an arduous process; Vick will have to show true remorse for his actions.  Working for PETA could give him the opportunity to learn the evils of dog fighting.  It could let him make a tangible change in the dog fighting community.  It could help make him a better person.  It might help him rehab some of his tattered image.  And it could ultimately help speed up his return to the NFL.  Which presumably is Vick’s ultimate goal.

They say politics makes strange bedfellows…maybe this situation will as well.  But the result could be positive for both PETA and Michael Vick.

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

Axe falls on “sacred cows” at Adidas

Posted by ZA on May 6, 2009

Herbert Hainer, CEO of Adidas, told told FT this week, “There are no sacred cows in the Adidas group.”  Then announced that Adidas would cut 1,000 jobs (of 39k jobs globally) and trim back expenses by over $125 million dollars.  Always sad to hear of job cuts of this magnitude, but unfortunately its becoming a common occurrence during this global economic downturn.  Companies are doing what it takes to stay afloat and keep their investors satisfied.


Not surprisingly a lot of the job cuts are going to come from two of the brands Adidas acquired in recent years, Reebok and TaylorMade.  Reebok is based in Canton, Massachusetts and was acquired by Adidas in 2005 for $3.8 billion dollars.  TaylorMade was acquired by Adidas in 1997 and its headquarters are located in Carlsbad, California.

I think it’s only a matter of time until Adidas makes the cost saving move of closing down Reebok; shuttering their separate marketing, operations and brand.  Adidas would then relaunch Reebok’s most successful elements under the Adidas brand, including Reebok’s current uniform sponsorship with the NFL.  Taking over Reebok’s current deals would give Adidas’ brand a big gain, particularly in the United States.  The NFL deal alone would get Adidas in-front of tens of millions of NFL football fans each weekend.

Reebok’s biggest league sponsorship deals include; the NFL, the CFL and MLB.  Their biggest individual endorsement deals include: Thierry Henry, Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Andriy Shevchenko & Vince Young.  They also have celebrities like Jay Z, 50 Cent and Scarlett Johansson endorsing the Reebok brand.

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

Dolphins stadium naming rights deal model for future?

Posted by ZA on May 5, 2009

From the buzz going around it sounds like the Miami Dolphins will enter into a one-year stadium naming rights agreement with Anaheuser Busch product, Land Shark Lager.  How does Land Shark Lager have the clout to pull off a major venue naming coup like this?  Landshark beer is part of the marketing arsenal of legendary performer and South Florida native, Jimmy Buffett.  Buffett promotes Landshark Lager under the flag of his “Margaritaville” products.

A Land Shark Lager deal with the Dolphins would be historic for a couple of reasons:
1) It would be the shortest length of time ever cut for an NFL venue naming rights deal.
2) The deal would include an in-kind component, when these venue naming rights are typically just cash.  Jimmy Buffett would play two concerts at the newly named stadium; the team/venue would receive the majority of the profit from these shows as payment on the naming rights deal.

I imagine the one-year deal will be extended if successful.  Of course Land Shark might only want this year when both the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl will bring significant exposure to the South Florida venue.  But it is the fact the team is willing to do trade out on their stadium name that is truly amazing.  The team probably does not have many other suitors willing to step up, so doing this deal insures them revenue in the short-term.  While still keeping open their options for a long-term venue naming rights deal when the economy turns around.

The concerts that are part of the deal is unique, but mostly because an entertainer has never been involved in stadium naming rights.  Payments in kind have been used in many stadium deals, but they are typically only a small portion of the deal or for signage in the stadium, not the entire venue naming rights.  For example the New York Yankees agreed to a deal to include the Casio brand on the outfield wall in exchange for service.

How many other professional sports venues might look for a similar type deal?
Lots of them.  A short-term deal that gives them some cash now, but doesn’t block their ability to sign a more lucrative long-term partnership in near future is attractive to a lot of teams.  The current economy has put a freeze on naming-rights deals, which are a huge source of revenue for many teams.

The downside of these type of short-term naming rights is over exposure.  The risk to teams is that by renting their stadium name for a year they could scare off potential long-term partners who don’t want their company name associated with a revolving door.  The home of the San Francisco Giants (AT&T Park) changed names three times in six years due to acquisitions in the telecom industry, so many fans still refer to it with the original Pac Bell Park name. Corporations could shy away from venues where they think their brand association will be hard to connect due to frequent name changes.

But for teams without stadium naming rights deals the upside of these short-term deals could be too lucrative to pass up.  I’m sure many of them will be watching closely to see how the Dolphins fare in their deal with Land Shark beer.  As I’m certainly many corporations will be eyeing the success of the deal from a brand building perspective.  That is what makes this Land Shark Lager and Miami Dolphins partnership such a historic endeavor in venue naming rights spectrum.  Success will breed a lot of imitation, failure could end it for everyone.

Posted in NFL, Stadium Signage, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rating the Top 100 Global Brands

Posted by ZA on May 4, 2009

A few thoughts from the Brandz 2009 Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands:

* Nike (#59) is the only sports company to make the list.  Although a large number of the companies on the list are heavily evolved in marketing themselves through sports.  Coca-Cola, IBM, McDonald’s, Vodafone, HP, Gillette & many more all spend heavily on building their brand via sports.

* I’m surprised that Starbucks is so low (#89), apparently that had a huge drop from previous year.

* I’m surprised that Wells Fargo is still so high (#37) even after dropping 1/3 from 2008 list.

* Blackberry (#16), Amazon (#26) and AT&T (#28) all moved up a lot on the list from previous year.

* Financial institutions had the biggest drops on the list: Wells Fargo (down 34%), Bank of America (down 53%), Amex (down 40%), Citi (down 52%) and ING (down 55%).  Tough year for Wall Street brands.

* Coca-Cola ranks #3 while Pepsi ranks #44.

* AT&% ranks #28 (up 67%) while Verizon ranks #34 (down 8%).

* BMW ranks #18 while Mercedes ranks #40.  Lexus parent company Toyota ranks #14.

* The evil empire Walmart ranks #11 while hip, trendy Target ranks #57.

* Super size me McDonald’s ranks #5 while eat fresh Subway ranks #60.

* Toyota ranks #14, Honda ranks #50 and Nissan ranks #67.

* FedEx (#69) ranks behind UPS (#15) and DHL (#68) – never would have guessed that.

* Google is #1, Microsoft is #2 while Yahoo ranks #81.

Click here to see the full list of the top 100 global brands for 2009.

Top 20 Most Valuable Global Brands (2009):
1. Google
2. Microsoft
3. Coca-Cola
4. IBM
5. McDonald’s
6. Apple
7. China Mobile
8. GE
9. Vodafone
10. Marlboro
11. Walmart
12. ICBC (Asia)
13. Nokia
14. Toyota
15. UPS
16. Blackberry
17. HP
18. BMW
19. SAP
20. Disney

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