Branding the World of Sports

Archive for August, 2009

Does Scott Boras hurt his clients endorsements?

Posted by ZA on August 24, 2009

A thought occurred to me as I watched the recent Stephen Strasburg contract negotiations with the Washington Nationals; does Scott Boras’ hard negotiating style hurt his players endorsement opportunities?  Boras is known as a super tough negotiator who has even been called the “most evil man in baseball”.  This is not a reputation unfairly bestowed upon Boras, he has known throughout baseball circles for his abrasive negotiating style.  Teams like the Nationals clearly do not relish dealing with Boras because he always demands huge contracts for his clients.  With Strasburg, the #1 pick in the 2009 amateur baseball draft, Boras was initially seeking an “absurd” contract that would rewrite the MLB draft record books.  The Nationals and Boras finally hammered out a not quite absurd, but still record deal at the 11th hour.  That deal happened after months of tense negotiations that clearly did not endear the Nationals executives to Boras.

Which makes me wonder; is Boras an equally tough negotiator when it comes to endorsement deals?  Do corporations like Nike and Pepsico try to avoid dealing with Boras clients because for fear they will be raked over the coals during the negotiations?  Strasburg has been called a once in a generation prospect, but has yet to sign any endorsement contracts.  Other Boras clients are some of the biggest names in Major League Baseball (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramierez, Prince Fielder) but seem to lack the mainstream endorsement deals of their peers in the game (e.g.- Ryan Howard for Subway, Derek Jeter for Gatorade).  Is this just a coincidence or do Boras clients not have the same endorsement prospects as non-Boras clients?  Difficult to say, but you have to believe corporations prefer to work with clients who have agents less aggressive than Boras.  If that is the case, then Boras’ style might actually be costing his clients endorsement money.

Scott Boras’ top clients and their top endorsement deal:
Johnny Damon – Puma
Manny Ramirez – EA Sports
Alex Rodriguez – Nike & Pepsico
Barry Zito – True Religion jeans

Posted in Endorsement Deals, MLB | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

SEC media policy & leadership needs to evolve

Posted by ZA on August 17, 2009

The Southeastern Conference (aka: the SEC) has the best collection of college football teams in America.  They have some talented football players who are big, fast and mean.  The SEC can boast some of the best football coaches in college.  And SEC fans are some of the best and most passionate in sports.  They also recently signed the richest television contract in college sports.  So the SEC is definitely doing something right.

But one thing the SEC isn’t doing right is adapting themselves to the fast paced internet world of today.  The SEC conference administrators are clearly behind the times as evidenced by their recent decision to ban all forms of social media from their stadiums.  That means that the million SEC fans who will take in a football game this fall cannot post photos of their experience, tweet about it or post their video of it on Facebook.  Fans are banned from those activities while inside the stadium on gameday.

Will the SEC and local stadium security be able to enforce this ban? No.
Will SEC fans continue to take photos & videos of their experience to share via social media? Yes.

So why did the conference leadership decide to put this type of ban in-place?  Two reasons: first, they don’t understand social media.  The old guys running the conference probably don’t have a twitter account amongst the group of them.  It’s easier for them to ban it, than to learn it.  But if they did bother to educate themselves on it, they would learn that the power of social media could be a very positive force for their conference.  Embracing it could bring them legions of new fans and a variety of new opportunities to enhance their fans experience.

The other reason they decided to ban social media is money.  The SEC is getting a lot of money from CBS on their new deal, so the conference wants to make sure that CBS and CBS alone is allowed to share their events.  This decision is perplexing because surely CBS understands that trying to suppress social media in this way is impossible.  It’s like trying to hold water in your hands, you just can’t do it.  CBS cannot prevent it, stadium security won’t be able to stop and the SEC conference is dumb to try to restrict it.

Posted in College Basketball, College Football, College Sports, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Will Tiger Woods win an Olympic gold medal?

Posted by ZA on August 13, 2009

The organizers of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London have to be kicking themselves this morning.  As big as those Games are going to be (and they’ll bigger than Beijing) they are going to be missing one key ingredient that could make them even bigger, golfer Tiger Woods.   Woods won’t be playing golf in London for the 2012 Olympics, but he could be competing in the 2016 Olympics because his sport was just approved for inclusion.

The IOC voted today to add golf and rugby as the two newest Olympic sports.  Both sports will debut at the 2016 Olympic Games.  These picks shouldn’t come as any surprise, except maybe those rooting for baseball to be picked.  I predicted golf and rugby would be the finalists in an article I wrote a short time ago, although I did have a difficult time selecting between rugby & baseball for the second spot.  I think baseball would have brought more sponsorship dollars than rugby, but it’s splitting hairs.

But now back to the more important question, can a 40 year old Tiger Woods win a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics? Woods would be 40 years old in the Summer of 2016, but should still be in the late stages of his prime as a golfer.  So I wouldn’t put it past Woods to compete and win an Olympic gold medal in golf.  It would be another unique accomplishment for Tiger to put with the stack he’s already accumulated, so he’s got the motivation.  So I think Tiger Woods will be an Olympic gold medal winner.

Posted in Golf, Olympics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Is a soccer ball faster than a speeding bullet?

Posted by ZA on August 12, 2009

In the latest commercial from Adidas  soccer superstar Riquelme plays keep away with a soccer ball while two guys try to shoot it with paint balls.  Riquelme dribbles, juggles and jukes for 30 seconds while the field around him is peppered with shots.  But none of the paint balls ever touch the soccer ball and the commercial ends with Riquelme quoting a famous Maradona line about keeping the ball clean.  More the origins of that line in this AdAge story.  Below is the video:

Posted in Adidas, Apparel & Shoes, Soccer, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

No chance for Chicago to host 2016 Olympics

Posted by ZA on August 11, 2009

I have always thought Chicago was a very strong contender to be selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Chicago is a fantastic option for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because it is an American city that is rich in culture, has solid infrastructure, the necessary venues to host competitions and a wealth of corporate sponsorship opportunities.  So it already had a lot going for it, and then it got the cherry on top of the sundae when a Chicago Senator (Barack Obama) was elected President of the United States.  It makes for a compelling pitch when the most powerful man in the free world is in your corner.  I’m sure the host committee members from Chicago had to share my enthusiasm for their chances, they surely have been feeling pretty good about their bid against Madrid, Rio and Tokyo.

But their good feelings might now be changing to despair, because the latest feud between the IOC and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is probably going to knock them out of contention.  Just like a runner that leads the entire race only to pull up lame in the final stretch, it appears Chicago’s hopes of hosting the 2016 Olympics are going to suffer the same fate.  The reason why I have moved Chicago from top contender to an also-ran in this competition has everything to do with the relationship of the USOC and IOC.

The relationship between these two sports governing bodies has been tenuous for awhile, but atleast it remained civil.  But the two organizations are now fighting over whether the USOC has the authority to launch their own Olympics Network and the bad blood is spilling over into the media.  A top IOC executive was quoted in the New York Times calling the USOC “arrogant” and saying they subverting the IOC.  A day later the IOC issued a written statement that condemned the television plans of the USOC.  The IOC statement said the USOC acted “unilaterally” in announcing their plans for an American Olympic Network.  The COO of the USCO said he would be flying to Switzerland later this month to work out things with IOC officials.

So what is the big deal about this particular feud between the IOC & USOC?
As I said these two organizations have feuded before.  The problem here is the timing of this feud to the general assembly vote in November.  That vote from the IOC will decide which city is selected to host the 2016 Games.  Don’t think this latest act of defiance (in the eyes of the IOC) isn’t going to influence voters to select another country to host the 2016 Olympics.  I would bet their have already been phone calls and emails between IOC voting members from other countries, who are developing plans to teach the USOC a lesson by not voting for Chicago.

An ugly mess if you ask me, and one poorly timed by the USOC.  They project advertising revenue of $40-$50 million dollars per year from their new Olympic Network, but that is nothing compared to the billions an Olympics on US soil would have brought in.  Why not wait until after the general assembly vote to announce your network plans?  I’m sure there was a strategic reason for the announcement now, but I just can’t see any way for them to make this situation right in-time to salvage the 2016 Olympics bid of Chicago.  Sad deal, because I think Chicago would have hosted a great Summer Olympics.


Posted in Olympics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

What is a Super Bowl commercial worth?

Posted by ZA on August 3, 2009

How valuable is a television commercial during the Super Bowl? Apparently a lot less in the current economy.

CBS is reportedly selling spots for the 2010 Super Bowl in the $2-3 million dollar (per spot) range.  That amount is down considerably from the $2.4 million to $3 million per spot that NBC received on the 2009 Super Bowl.  CBS is selling cheaper because they have to given the current economy.  They are also telling potential buyers that they are negotiable on the price, something that NBC was (publicly) inflexible last year until the economy tanked.

Smart move by CBS to get aggressive on working with advertisers to get them involved in the big game.  There are lots of marquee brands that love to get the exposure the Super Bowl audience provides, but many of those have seen their ad budgets slashed.  By working with the potential advertiser to create a program, CBS is going to salvage some deals that might have otherwise walked away.  CBS will probably also benefit from hooking some of these advertisers into packages that include online, radio and other CBS-owned media properties.

I like this move, but if CBS really wanted to make a bold move they would publish the spot schedule with prices.  Imagine if they had a link from their website that showed all of the available commercial inventory during the broadcast.  The link would include all of the spots in order, which each spot having a price tag next to it.  If an advertiser has committed to the spot, then their name would be included (without revealing the price they paid).

I think this would be successful because it would create a buzz around advertisers to lock down the prime spots (which sell at higher prices).  It could also land some new deals from companies who might see a competitor listed and make the bold decision to buy a spot.  Imagine Heineken deciding to buy a spot immediately after (or before) a Budweiser or Miller spot.  Putting the information out there publicly might alienate some brands, but could get other new advertisers to step up to the table.  Because rather than negotiating the deals in backrooms, where favoritism rules the day, it would bring all dealings into the public domain.  Except of course the final agreed upon price should not be disclosed.

I even think CBS could take this strategy one step further by allowing Google & Microsoft (and other large online ad divisions) to each sell spots on their own sites, to earn a commission on the sale.  Maybe a Super Bowl commercial could even be auctioned off by Ebay (with a reserve price, of course).  The buzz alone generated by these moves would help to drive some sales and could even create a new online media property for CBS to sell ads for (i.e.- their web site listing all of the ads for sale on the Super Bowl).

This type of economy is when companies need to be most courageous.  CBS would be taking a big risk, but could also permanently change the way Super Bowl spots (and maybe others) are sold.  The change could have a positive financial impact now and down the road.  And before you remind me of the financial troubles of SpotRunner, I’ll say I think CBS has a few more resources than a 3rd-party site that is selling remnant commercial inventory.

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