Branding the World of Sports

Archive for October, 2009

Mike Gundy is no longer 40, but is still a man

Posted by ZA on October 30, 2009

My Texas Longhorns are playing the Oklahoma State Cowboys this weekend, so I thought it was appropriate to rehash one of my favorite coach clips; the notorious of “I’m a man!  I’m 40!“.  This classic quote was said by Okie State head Coach Mike Gundy in September 2007 during a postgame press conference.

“I’m a man! I’m 40!” – by Mike Gundy

Unfortunately for Gundy he’ll probably never be able to live down this famous soundbite, because he is a good football coach who just got caught up in the moment.  There are four paragraphs on his Gundy’s wikipedia entry detailing the incident, which is more information than the entire rest of the page combined.

Mike Gundy is 42 now, his birthday is August 12, 1967.


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Will the NBA learn crisis management from MLB?

Posted by ZA on October 29, 2009

The steroid era in Major League Baseball has forever tainted the game.  Most fans cannot watch an MLB game without wondering who is using performance enhancing drugs.  Some of the best players in the game have been linked to PEDs; Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez.  And baseball’s biggest stars in this era have had the steroid rumors swirl around them, including; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.  What has MLB done to help this situation?  What has the commissioner done to restore confidence that his players are clean?  Not much.  It seems their official stance is similar to AIG’s; just shut up and hope all of the negative attention goes away.

Now it is the NBA’s turn to defend itself against the rumors that their league is tainted.  These rumors come from a familiar source, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.  In his new book, Blowing the Whistle, Donaghy tells tales of the NBA refs working on behalf of the league to make games close.  He asserts that he and fellow refs would make side bets that affected how they called the game.  Worse he says that the league would instruct their officials to assist certain teams when a certain team winning was important to the league (sorry Sacramento Kings fans).  Donaghy says a lot of damning stuff in the book; here are some more excerpts posted by Deadspin.

If any of the allegations by Donaghy are true, then the NBA has a huge problem they need to correct.  The question now is how seriously will NBA Commissioner David Stern take these assertions from Donaghy?  Will the league investigate further to see if these stories are true?  Will they address this head-on or just hide and hope it goes away?  A conspiracy theorist might already wonder if the league is punishing their referees by locking them out and using replacement refs to start the 2009-2010 season.  Maybe there is more going on there than the two sides not being able to come to an agreement on a deal.

Back to reality, the NBA has to handle this situation carefully in my opinion.  They don’t want to overreact because there is no proof any of the allegations are true.  Remember that Donaghy is a convicted felon, who ratted out the mobsters he was helping to gamble on games and that Tim is likely broke.  Which are all reasons he might not be the most reliable source and could very easily have embellished details in his book to make some extra cash.

But that’s a dangerous game of chicken to play if the NBA is going to simply say that Donaghy is a liar and not look into this matter further.  Because it would take very little for this situation to escalate.  What would it take to corroborate the stories told by Donaghy in his book?  Just one other referee or player to step forward and validate Donaghy’s stories; then the NBA would have a sh*tstorm of negative media.  This is likely what keeps David Stern up at night; someone coming forward to validate the claims of the NBA’s disgraced former referee.

If I’m Commissioner Stern, I would get on top of this situation now and find out if any of this is true.  That would allow them to quickly correct any wrongdoing they discover and refute anything they find out is not true.  If there is any wrongdoing by the league office or their refs, then they need to apologize to the fans and insure this never happens again.  People will still love the NBA and they’ll respect the game more if they know it’s clean.


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Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” a trend setter

Posted by ZA on October 27, 2009

Gatorade started airing their “Be Like Mike” commercials in 1991.  The commercials starred global basketball icon, Michael Jordan, in a series of off-court clips with footage of his NBA games intermingled.  The catchy “Be Like Mike” provided the background theme for these spots.  Suffice to say the commercials were an instant hit and people around the world began repeating the phrase every time they hit the basketball court.  I remember a few memorable attempts of my own to “Be Like Mike” while goofing around on the basketball court.

Gatorade – “Be Like Mike” commercial

What wasn’t known at that time is the influence the “Be Like Mike” commercials by Gatorade would have on sports marketing.  How many other brands would copy the formula in successful future commercials.  The formula: catchy tune plus fast action of filmed spots and clips of game action all mixed together.  Gatorade set a standard back in 1991 that has been copied by some of the biggest name in sports since then.




Posted in Adidas, Gatorade, Nike, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Of course the IOC is making “secret deals”

Posted by ZA on October 25, 2009

The Olympics is a great spectacle, but it’s no longer just about amateur athletic competition.  The Olympics is big business these days with billions of dollars in sponsorship and television money on the line.  So naturally there is a lot of back room politicking going on in support of all that money.

A new book by the former Chinese sports minister details some of the arrangements that allowed China to secure the 2008 Olympics.  He claims that Chinese officials helped IOC President Jacques Rogge get re-elected in exchange for Rogge delivering the European vote in-favor of Beijing hosting the Summer Games.  Full article here at the Times Online.
The IOC is generating a lot of money, but they try to focus attention on the grandeur of their events rather than the cash.  But their secret ballot process allows their members to wheel and deal without fear of being exposed.  These type of secret deals are not the exception, but rather the norm when it comes to the IOC.

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Izod Center naming rights deal going up in smoke

Posted by ZA on October 22, 2009

In 2007 the New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall Pirates announced they would be moving their home games to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  The Devils and Pirates were both leaving the Continental Airlines Arena, which had been their home venue for nearly 20 years.  That move had a domino effect which is still being felt today.

Continental Airlines subsequently backed out of their $1.3 million dollar annual contract for the naming rights the Meadowlands Arena; which had been called Continental Airlines Arena since 1995.  The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority then went out to get bids from companies who wanted to put their name on the building.  They received a few offers and finally settled on a deal with Izod at $1.4 million per year.  The new name of the arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey would be the Izod Center.

The Izod Center has been the home venue for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, as well as, a host of concerts and events for the past two seasons.  But it appears now that could all come to an end.  The Nets have been made plans to move their franchise to Brooklyn to play at the Barclays Center; a move that should happen in 2011.  Which in theory would give the Izod Center a permanent resident for at least two more years, which would cover most of the three year’s left on the naming rights deal.  But now the Nets are considering moving their home games to Prudential Center, which would leave the Izod Center devoid a full-time tenant.

What does this loss mean to Izod’s naming rights deal? It means Izod would no longer get the millions of mentions that come from having a professional sports franchise playing in your building (mentions on Sportscenter and in every newspaper that prints a story on the Nets game).  It means that there would be approximately 800,000 fewer people attending events the arena bearing their name, because the 40 Nets home games are eliminated.  In-short, it would mean a huge decrease in the exposure the deal originally was set to provide.  On the plus side, Izod could save some money because the annual payment on the deal drops to $750k if the Nets are no longer the tenant.  But does a reduced cost really offset all that Izod loses in exposure on the deal?  No, Izod would be left with an aging venue sitting nearly empty next to the New Jersey interstate.  Izod will be the naming rights partner for an arena that is dying.  That is not exactly the kind of deal you want your brand associated with; Izod should look to get out of this deal if the Nets leave.

Posted in NBA, Venue Information, Venue Naming Rights | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Is Rio the most dangerous city to host the Olympics?

Posted by ZA on October 21, 2009

The IOC recently selected Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Rio beat out an impressive field of candidates, including; Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo.  Rio de Janeiro was one of the host cities in Brazil that was selected by FIFA to host the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament.  Which means the two biggest sporting events in the world are coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio and Brazil are deserving hosts of these events, but one lingering question is will safety be an issue for these events?  Rio does have a history of violence and has been named as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  The president of Brazil recently offered almost $60 million dollars to Rio de Janeiro; money that would be used to help curb the widespread gang violence in the city.  This was after a particularly violent weekend in Rio which saw 17 people murdered as drug gangs battled the police.

These questions that Rio is facing now are the same questions that South Africa faced when when they were awarded the 2010 World Cup.  In South Africa’s case those questions cannot be definitively answered until next Summer when the World Cup kicks off.  A few people I know who traveled to South Africa recently said there are areas that are very safe and a few areas that tourists should probably stay away from; essentially they gave South Africa a positive rating when it comes to safety.  So if South Africa can avoid any major violence, there is no reason to think that Rio and Brazil won’t be able to as well.

There is always lots of petty crime that follows these big sporting events.  The pickpockets in Italy for the Torino Winter Olympics were legendary.  So both South Africa and Brazil will have to work hard to keep crime to a minimum, but I don’t expect there will be much violence.  They will both spend whatever it takes to keep the violence from drug gangs and the like from marring their big events.  The memories of the murders at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and bombing in Atlanta in 1996 make sure they don’t forget what could happen if they let down their guard.

So although Rio de Janeiro is often in the headlines for violence, it is ultimately not likely to have any more violence during the Summer Games or World Cup than any other recent host city.


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Endorsement merry-go-round: Puma to Nike to Adidas

Posted by ZA on October 20, 2009

What happens when athletes switch their allegiance from one sports brand to another?  They usually pick up a bigger paycheck.  These days the goal of the big brands is to lock up their talent for the long haul.  The term “lifetime deals” have come into play with athletes like Allen Iverson (Reebok) and Tiger Woods (Nike).  Those type of deals originated with Michael Jordan who has been Nike’s shining star for a quarter of a decade.

But there are some athletes who switch brands. Here are 8 NBA stars who changed their sneaker deals:
Kobe Bryant: Adidas to Nike
Vince Carter: Puma to Nike
Baron Davis: Reebok to Li-Ning
Tim Duncan: Nike to Adidas
Kevin Garnett: Nike to And 1 to Adidas
Jason Kidd: Nike to Peak
Stephon Marbury: And 1 to Starbury
Chris Webber: Nike to Dada

Li-Ning and Peak are both Chinese brands.  Starbury was a line of discount shoes started by Steve & Barry’s; the chain liquidated their stores in 2008 but the shoes/apparel continue to be promoted by Marbury. Dada may or may not still be in business – most of the stuff about them I could find is dated, so I can’t tell.  I guess that’s what happens when you select Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell to endorse your product.

Posted in Adidas, Apparel & Shoes, Endorsement Deals, NBA, Nike, Sports Brands | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Shoe companies use blogs to launch new brands

Posted by ZA on October 19, 2009

The internet has changed the way that most companies release their new products.  Back in the days Nike might buy a glossy advertisement in Sports Illustrated to initially introduce a new shoe.  Then the week of the shoe’s launch they would place half-page ads in sports section of newspapers in the top 20 markets.  They would support this with some radio and possible a few TV spots during big games.  It worked then…

Now Nike is just as likely to promote a new shoe by sending out information to a bunch of influential bloggers.  They not only save money promoting their product in this manner, but are also getting a better ROI on the marketing dollars. This network of blogs has a loyal, engaged following that are the “early influencers” target that the company needs for their new product.  The guy who reads engadget everyday is more likely than me to buy the latest & greatest product from Samsung.  So when Samsung wants to get the word out, they go to Engadget.

This Brandweek article talks about that phenomena in the tennis shoe market.  How a handful of influential blogs (bloggers) are being used by Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok, etc. to help push their latest offerings.

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

“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

Posted by ZA on October 16, 2009

As inspirational a speech as you’ll ever see.  Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards.

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Adidas making another push in NBA

Posted by ZA on October 15, 2009

Adidas trails way behind Nike when it comes to basketball.  Nike has more prominent NBA stars endorsing their product (e.g.- Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant) than Adidas, which has translated into much larger market share for Nike.  Nike has had so much success in the NBA that it even has it’s owned themed basketball shoes, the Jordan Brand.

But Adidas is content to concede the category to Nike and has launched a new campaign to promote the 3 stripes.  The new Adidas campaign is “celebrating basketball as a brotherhood” and features Adidas’ most prominent NBA endorsement stars; Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose.  Adidas hopes that putting all of their big names together in these segments will outshine any individual endorser that Nike has.  This campaign is an extension of their 2007 “Basketball is a brotherhood” theme.


Top NBA stars that endorse Adidas:
Gilbert Arenas
Chauncey Billups
Tim Duncan
Kevin Garnett
Tracy McGrady
Derrick Rose
Josh Smith

Top NBA endorsers for Nike:
Ray Allen (Jordan Brand)
Carmelo Anthony (Jordan Brand)
Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
Blake Griffin (rookie)
Richard Hamilton (Jordan Brand)
Lebron James
Joe Johnson (Jordan Brand)
Chris Paul (Jordan Brand)
Dwayne Wade (Jordan Brand)

Top NBA endorsers for Reebok:

Baron Davis
Allen Iverson
Al Jefferson
Yao Ming

Top NBA endorsers for Converse:
Kirk Hinrich
Elton Brand

Posted in Adidas, Apparel & Shoes, NBA, Nike | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »