Branding the World of Sports

Archive for November, 2009

Tiger Woods turning mainstream golf sites into TMZ

Posted by ZA on November 30, 2009 has always been one of my favorite sites to catch up on what’s going on in the world of golf.  I enjoy their special features and their Q&A section (check out this great one with Brandel Chamblee if you haven’t read it yet).   But this week Tiger Woods hysteria has turned, and the other mainstream golf sites, into sites that more closely resemble rival tabloid journalism sites.

The first 6 stories listed under’s “Top Stories” section all were about Woods, his suspicious crash and his wife Elin.  Their feature headline is “Silent Treatment”, which refers to Tiger’s decision to not answer questions about his accident or other rumors swirling around the web. Apparently this week only has morphed into TMZ.

Mainstream golf writers are writing about 911 calls and mistresses instead of snap hooks and double eagles.  Instead of doing press about the game they cover, they are being asked about what they know about Tiger Woods.  They are one part legendary golf author Dan Jenkins and another gossip talk show host Tyra Banks.  Personally I’m looking forward to seeing David Feherty’s breakdown Tiger’s crash scene in Isleworth with a telestrator of the fire hydrant and crash tree.

When will the Tiger Woods hysteria end? Either when he speaks out to tell what happened or there is a bigger story to cover.  It is not likely the golf world will see a bigger story in the near future.  So Tiger will stay in this media spotlight until there are some answers to the many questions and rumors swirling around.  Tiger, I appreciate your right to privacy, but silence is not always golden. Homepage on Monday after Tiger Woods story broke



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

Vote for the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl

Posted by ZA on November 30, 2009

Go to to vote your favorite NFL stars to a spot in the 2010 Pro Bowl.  The easy-to-use online ballot lets you vote for players at each position.  Make your voice heard and vote for the best NFL players to make the 2010 Pro Bowl.

Click here to visit the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl ballot.

Posted in NFL | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Pontiac Silverdome sold for 1% of cost to build it

Posted by ZA on November 23, 2009

How bad are things in Detroit?  Pretty bad if the city is selling the former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions for $583,000.  A stadium that cost more than $55 million dollars to build in 1975 just sold for a mere 1% of the cost to build it.  Now I’ve heard of depreciation, but that has to be a record for a major professional sports venue.  Particularly when you consider that the city had received offers to buy it for more than $22 million in the past decade.  I’m sure they are kicking themselves now that they didn’t sell it while it still had some value.

The buyer is an “anonymous Canadian firm” that plans to use the facility for a soccer league they are going to develop.  I’m not buying that they ever use for a professional sports team or league, at least not anytime soon.  I expect to see it sold again (quietly) in the coming months.  Perhaps to be used as a mega-Church like the one Joel Osteen has in Houston that used to be home of the Houston Rockets.  Because it seems that Detroit needs prayer a lot more than they need sports right now.

Posted in Stadium Construction, Venue Information | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Who are the best announcers in football?

Posted by ZA on November 20, 2009

The Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily have published their list of the top 25 football announcers for 2009.  The list includes football commentators from both college football and the NFL.  Twelve panelists from the SBJ & SBD rated the announcers to produce the rankings.

Top 25 Best Football Annoucers for 2009:
1. Gary Danielson – CBS
2. Cris Collinsworth – NBC
3. Al Michaels – NBC
4. Phil Simms – CBS
5. Kirk Herbstreit – ABC/ESPN
6. Troy Aikman – Fox
7. Ron Franklin – ABC/ESPN
8. Verne Lundquist – CBS
9. Joe Buck – Fox
10. Jim Nantz – CBS
11. Mike Tirico – ESPN
12. Brad Nessler – ABC/ESPN
13. Brent Musburger – ABC/ESPN
14. Jon Gruden – ESPN
15. Daryl Johnston – Fox
16. Ron Jaworski – ESPN
17. Greg Gumbel – CBS
18. Sean McDonough – ABC/ESPN
19. Todd Blackledge – ABC/ESPN
20. Dan Fouts – CBS
21. Bob Papa – NFL Network
22. Mike Patrick – ABC/ESPN
23. Chris Fowler – ESPN
24. Gus Johnson – CBS
25. Dick Enberg – CBS

Here are the guys that are rated too high:
* Buck – He’s in the top 10 based on his baseball rep.  He’s solidly average in football.
* Gruden – It would be “outstanding” if he could expand his vocabulary.
* Gumbel – Living off his brother’s rep.  He’s okay, but not top shelf.
* Fouts – Top 20, really?  Proves no one is watching those AFC West games on CBS.
* Papa – Who gets to see him broadcast?  Time Warner still doesn’t offer NFL Network.
* Enberg – Great career, but listing him is more of a ‘lifetime achievement award’.

Here are the guys that need to be rated higher on the list:
* Franklin – Could easily be the top college football guy on list.
* Musburger – Polarizing figure, but he’s great for the game.  Getting old, but still comedic gold.
* McDonough – Always solid, would be rated higher if he were more of a “name”.
* Johnson – The panelists not only rate him too low they slight him with “Youtube generation” comment.

Here are some key names that did not make the list:
* Erin Andrews – ESPN (Put a lady on the list)
* Bob Davie – ESPN
* Dan Dierdorf – CBS
* Ian Eagle – CBS
* Bob Griese – ESPN
* Kevin Harlan – CBS  (Should make top 25 in future)
* Craig James – ESPN
* Andrea Kremer – NBC
* Jesse Palmer – ESPN (Should be in top 25 in future)
* Tony Siragusa – Fox
* Dick Stockton – Fox

PS – Could some production assistant at ABC/ESPN do Mike Patrick a favor and get him a better photo?

Posted in CBS, College Football, ESPN, Fox, NBC, NFL, Sports Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Do you want a free NBA jersey?

Posted by ZA on November 18, 2009

How can you get a cheap or free NBA jersey?

You can get an Allen Iverson Memphis Grizzlies jersey for 1/2 price, maybe even free if the Grizzlies gives away 3,000 at a game next month.  Memphis decision to release Iverson leaves them with a lot of extra inventory from his short stay.  At this point it’s probably better for Memphis to pack up the extra jerseys and send them to Africa as giveaway items, rather than try to sell them.  Because it’s just another reminder to Grizzlies fans (if there are any) of the many missteps their front office has made.

[Assist: Sports Business Journal]

Posted in NBA, Sports Marketing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Winter Olympics needs more marketable athletes

Posted by ZA on November 16, 2009

Quick name 5 athletes that will compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics…

Now name 5 athletes that competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing…

Which was easier to do?  Majority of people (especially in the United States) will be able to name athletes who compete in the Summer Games.  Very few will know the names of more than a couple of athletes who compete in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  Why?  Because the sports and athletes of the Winter Games are not as marketable in the United States.  Luge, Curling and Bobsled don’t have the same appeal to U.S. viewers as events at the Summer Olympics.  Even the marquee events in the Winter Games, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating & Skiing, are not as popular as the top events at the Summer Olympics (Basketball, Swimming & Gymnastics).

Even on a global scale, names like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Kerry Walsh and Rafael Nadal are much more recognizable than their counterparts in the Winter sports.  Certain Scandinavian people will recognize the names of their top skiers.  But will US sports fans know any Winter athletes beyond Shaun White, Sasha Cohen and Apolo Ohno?  The average fan on the street in New York City knows Phelps and Bolt but is unlikely to know big Winter Games athletes like Lara Gut and Felix Gottwald.

The problem is that less recognizable athletes mean less dollars for their sports and the Winter Olympics in-general.  Sponsors will spend more on the Summer Games and swimming because of Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Stephanie Rice & Kirsty Coventry.  The IOC needs to work harder to build the images of their Winter Games athletes.  They need to develop top-line stars that rival the top names at the Summer Olympics.  The IOC needs to get more sponsors to promote the Winter Olympic athletes like Visa is doing with Lindsey Jacobellis and Julia Mancuso in their Go World campaign.

The IOC also needs to cultivate more athletes who come from the X Games; the athletes that appeal to a younger generation.  Shaun White will be one of the most recognizable athletes at Vancouver 2010.  White’s early success in the X Games made him popular enough to earn commercial endorsements from American Express and HP.  The exposure from those endorsements took him from a niche sport athlete to a mainstream media star; White is now a household name.  The IOC needs to find more success stories like Shaun White, or build those stories where none exist.

The Winter Olympics will be more popular when their athletes are bigger names.  These athletes are working their butts off for their sports, so few have time to focus on being mainstream success stories.  It is the IOC and their national organizing committees (i.e.- USOC) responsibility to market their athletes.  Doing so and encouraging more sponsors to promote those athletes will eventually build more recognizable names in the Winter Olympics.

Posted in Olympics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

What does Nike spend on marketing?

Posted by ZA on November 12, 2009

Nike is one of the top brands in sports and the #1 shoemaker in the world.  The athletic apparel and footwear giant was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman.  Formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports, the company now has recognizable brands across many sectors: Nike, Jordan Brand, Nike Golf, Converse, Hurley, Nike Soccer, Umbro and Cole Haan.

Nike has more than 30% global market share in the athletic footwear category and almost 10% share of the athletic apparel market.  Nike’s market share in the United States is higher, they have almost 40% of the U.S. market.  Nike had almost $19 billion in global revenue in 2008 (source).

Nike reinvests approximately 12% of their revenue into marketing, which includes advertising, endorsements and sponsorship deals.  In 2008, Nike spent almost $3 billion dollars on marketingNike’s U.S. budget is close to $800 million. Nike is seeing strong results from their spending because their 3 top brands (Nike, Jordan, Converse) grew 11% in September, while competitors Adidas, Reebok and New Balance fell by an equal amount (source: AdAge).

Top Marketing Execs at Nike:
Phil Knight – Chairman/Founder
Mark Parker – President & CEO
Charlie Denson – President, Nike Brand
Ken Dice – VP, Marketing – North America
Trevor Edwards – VP, Global Brand
Joaquin Hidalgo – VP, Brand Marketing
Keith Houlemard – President, Jordan Brand
Jared Morris – US Marketing
John Slusher – VP, Global Sports Marketing
Howard White – VP, Sports Marketing – Jordan Brand


Posted in Nike | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

9 SEC football coaches make over $2 million a year

Posted by ZA on November 10, 2009

If you aren’t sure which conference is the most aggressive in college football, then this should make it obvious.  There are nine head football coaches in the SEC Conference that have a salary of $2 million dollars or more per year.  Four of those nine are going to make more than $3 million dollars this year.

Highest Paid Head Coaches in SEC (2009)
1. Urban Meyer (Florida) – $4 million
2. Nick Saban (Alabama) – $3.9 million
3. Les Miles (LSU) – $3.75 million
4. Mark Richt (Georgia) – $3 million
5. Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) – $2.8 million
6. Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) – $2.5 million
7. Gene Chizik (Auburn) – $2 million
8. Steve Spurrier (S. Carolina) – $2 million
9. Lane Kiffin (Tennessee) – $2 million
+ Source USA Today

What does that list tell me?  That Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt need to pay their football coaches more money if they want to compete in the SEC.  Kentucky is only paying Rich Brooks $1.6 million and Miss State is paying new coach Dan Mullen over $1.2 million.  Of course Kentucky has an excuse because they just gave John Calipari a $4 million dollar per year salary to coach the Wildcats basketball team.

A few other interesting facts from the USA Today article:

* In 2009 there will be 56 NCAA football coaches making $1 million or more in salary.
* In 2009 there are 9 NCAA football coaches making $3 million or more in salary.
* 47% of NCAA Division 1 head football coaches make more than $1 million per year.
* Average pay for those head coaches is $1.36 million per year.
* That average pay is up almost 30% over the past two years.
* The average 2009 salary of assistant football coaches at Tennessee and Texas are over $325k.

Posted in College Football, Money | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Under Armour too aggressive in footwear?

Posted by ZA on November 3, 2009

Under Armour has been a favorite brand in the sports world for over a decade.  The Under Armour story has been a case study in success; a tiny company that makes good competing against the giants in their space (i.e.- Nike & Adidas).  They’ve grown up a lot from those early days in founder Kevin Plank’s basement; Under Armour is now a publicly traded company (NYSE: UA) with almost a billion dollars in revenue.

One of the characteristics that has made Under Armour successful is their aggressive attitude towards growth.  They quickly diversified from an innovative apparel company into many other facets of the sportswear industry, including athletic footwear.  With each new expansion of their business they seemed to thumb their nose at the established players in that space and set their sights on domination.  Under Armour’s bravado was never more obvious then when they used the tagline “The future is ours” during their 2008 Super Bowl spot.  But these days Under Armour is discovering that being one of the biggest brands in their space, a successful publicly traded company, has some downside.

Under Armour expansion into footwear has not gone as smoothly as planned, which has caused analysts and investors to loudly criticize UA’s moves thereby pummeling their stock price.  This AdAge article says that analysts have characterized Under Armour’s moves as “weak”; particularly the decision by the company to pull back on how aggressively they plan to expand their shoe line.    The negative attention has caused Under Armour’s stock price to drop dramatically to $26 per share from its previous 52-week high of $33 per share (Source: Yahoo Finance).  It also means that Under Armour has some tough sledding ahead if it wants to continue to live up to its aggressive brand image.

Their are still big opportunities available to Under Armour in the athletic footwear category, but they might need to be a little more conservative.  Perhaps they should follow the advice one expert said and grow things a little slower.  Try to develop their niche in the shoe market organically, rather than forcing their way with a big media blitz (i.e.- Super Bowl commercial).  There is a lot of established competition in shoes and Under Armour isn’t entering the space with anything revolutionary like they did in sports apparel with their moisture wicking shirts.  If I was Under Armour I would try to focus on a certain niche in shoes, like: football cleats, workout shoes or casual shoes.  Once successful in that space, then I would grow their product line into the more competitive categories like running shoes.  Sometimes bigger isn’t better, even for big brands like Under Armour.


Under Armour

Posted in Adidas, Apparel & Shoes, Nike, Sports Brands, Under Armour | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Portland Trailblazers use marquee opponents to sell tickets

Posted by ZA on November 2, 2009

Interesting that the Portland Trailblazers are using their marquee opponents to sell single game tickets.  On the tickets page of their official team website, the Trailblazers have a section on Upcoming Home Games.  In it they say, “Can’t wait to see guys like Lebron, Shaw, D-Wade and Kobe when they come to town…”  Directly above it they have a photo of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade (see image below).

There is nothing wrong with Portland promoting their opponents to sell more tickets, many teams have used this same technique.  The New Jersey Nets are giving their fans jerseys of the star player on the opposing team.   And there are certainly more people in Oregon who want to see a Blazers game against global icon James, so promoting a name like Lebron creates more awareness.  But I’m surprised a team as good as Portland, with such strong fan support, would want to  promote an opponent just to sell more tickets.

The story that Portland’s marketing department needs to tell is about their own young, exciting, talented squad.  They need to be connecting the fans in Portland with the players on the Trailblazers.  This is no longer the “Jailblazers”; this Portland squad has marketable young stars in Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden.  The Portland front office needs their fans to know that Rudy Fernandez’s favorite food is paella and that Jerryd Bayless was born the same year that Bull Durham hit movie theaters (1988).

These days there is no shame for a professional sports team doing whatever it takes to sell more tickets.  The bottom line for most of the teams and leagues is that attendance figures are what they are judged on.  But I hope the Portland Trailblazers don’t overlook their own great story.  More long-term success will come from promoting their own team.

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

Posted in Attendance Figures, NBA | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »