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Archive for December, 2009

Will Tiger return any money to Nike?

Posted by ZA on December 17, 2009

As the scandal around golfer Tiger Woods rages on, sales of Nike Golf apparel are dropping.  Retailers are no longer pushing the Tiger Woods branded Nike Golf line and his absence from the PGA Tour is only going to continue to hurt sales.  Bloomberg estimates that Nike stands to lose approximately $30 million in sales from the current Tiger scandal.  A former CBS Sports executive says “The aura (around Tiger) is gone”.

So the question is will Tiger give any of that money back to Nike?  Woods is almost solely responsible for building Nike Golf division into a half a billion dollar cash cow.  For that Tiger has been paid over $100 million dollars by Nike in his career.  So will Tiger consider giving some of that money back to Nike now – when it’s clear that Tiger’s personal actions are hurting the corporate giant.  I doubt that Tiger would ever hand over a check to Phil Knight, but I do think this will prompt Tiger to give Nike a sweetheart deal whenever his current contract expires.  Sure Tiger has made more money for Phil Knight than Knight has paid to Woods, but Knight & Nike have also stood by Tiger during this scandal.  Knight is the only sponsor who has vocally supported Woods saying that Tiger’s transgressions are just a “minor blip” on his great career.   I’m betting that Phil Knight gets a nice holiday card from Tiger this year.

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

Tiger Woods popularity dropping quickly

Posted by ZA on December 15, 2009

A recent ABC News/Washington Post survey said that only 42% of respondents have a “favorable opinion” of Tiger Woods.  In the same poll an equal number (43%) said they have an “unfavorable opinion” of Tiger Woods, with 26% saying they have a “strongly unfavorable opinion” of Mr. Woods.

The positive side of those numbers are way down for Tiger who scored 60% “favorable” and 25% “unfavorable” just a few weeks ago (right after car crash).  Tiger has lost a huge amount of good feelings since 2005 where he measured at 85% favorable versus 8% unfavorable.  See more details on the poll here at Brandweek.

Tiger’s fall from grace has occurred quickly as sordid details of his personal life have played out in the media.  During the scandal Tiger has remained silent except for a couple of canned statements that apologized for “transgressions” and begged for privacy.  Woods silence has seemed to add further fuel to the anger against him, as he is unwilling to answer questions about the accusations being lobbed against him.

I doubt Tiger is innocent in all of this, but would still like to hear him tell his side of the story.  Or at the very least I’d like to see him step forward and face the music.  At the core this is definitely a private matter between him, his wife and his family.  But he’s a public figure (professional athlete & spokesperson) who has been accused of some horrible things, so I think Tiger needs to make a public statement.  That should be on-camera and should specifically address the items he is accused of.  So far Tiger & his PR people seem to be bungling this situation, I’m hoping they are planning something to try to clear the air a bit…or at least give the public something to get people to start moving on from this issue (thus allowing Tiger & Elin privacy to work on things).

Posted in Athletes, Golf, Sports Brands | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Why Texas beats Alabama in BCS Championship

Posted by ZA on December 13, 2009

The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to beat the Texas Longhorns when the two teams meet in Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game.  Not only has Vegas made Bama the early favorite, but I’ve seen a lot of sports writers favoring the Tide over the Horns.  I think they are wrong, I think that Texas is going to beat Alabama in the National Championship Game.  Before I get into the reasons I think that Texas wins, I should disclose that I am biased towards the Longhorns.  I’ve been a UT fan all my life and attended the University of Texas.  That said I think the following is a compelling argument why Texas will win the game, but I welcome any rebuttal if you disagree with my opinion.

Why Texas beats Alabama in 2010 BCS Championship Game?
* Texas’ offense has the edge because they have the better and more experienced quarterback.  Colt McCoy is a senior QB that has started all 4 years for the Horns.  During that time McCoy won more football games than any other quarterback in the history of college football (Division I record 45 wins).  Colt has always won all three of the bowl games that he’s played in; he led a dramatic comeback a year ago against Ohio State to win the Fiesta Bowl.  McCoy has started over 50 college games and won 45 of them, by comparison Alabama QB Greg McElroy just took over as starter this season.  McElroy has done an amazing job leading Bama to a 13-0 record as starting QB, but this will be his first bowl game as starter.  The experience between the two is miles apart, which gives a big edge to Texas.  Even if you put experience aside, Colt is still the better quarterback because he wins both throwing and running the football.  Alabama has a much better running game and offensive line, but Texas has the clear advantage in the passing game.  A better, more experienced quarterback will make the difference in this game.

* Texas will at least match the results of Alabama on the defensive side of the ball.  The two defenses are very similar in the rankings, both ranking in the top 10 in Total Defense and Scoring Defense.  Texas defense has an edge that they’ve played against five team’s who ranked in the top 20 in passing offense, while Bama only played one offense ranked in the top 20 in passing.  Alabama evens that out against the run where they’ve played four schools with run offense is ranked in the top 20; Texas played none.  The comparison of the two defenses could go back and forth all day, but the end result is that both defenses are excellent.  Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are two of the best in the game, so I expect both teams to play well on that side of the ball.  I call it a push on defense.

* Texas has the edge in intangibles because they have won more big games than Alabama.  I know SEC purists are howling at that statement, particularly since the Crimson Tide have played in the last two SEC Championship Games.  But Bama only won 1 of those 2 SEC title appearances and last year they laid an egg in their second biggest game of the year (Sugar Bowl against Utah).  Sure Bama won a lot of games in the SEC, but 1-2 in the past 2 seasons in the games that matter most (conference championships & BCS bowl games).  During that same time period Texas has gone 25-1 winning their BCS bowl game last season and the Big 12 Championship this year (2-0 in games that matter most).  Texas only loss in the last two seasons was a last second upset to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock.  And while the Big 12 was weak this year, last season the Big 12 South was hailed as the best division/conference in college football.  So Texas has played their fair share of quality opponents and 96% of the time the Longhorns have come out on top.  Helping Mack Brown & Texas even further on the intangibles is that they come in to this game as the clear underdog.  The Longhorns will have the chip on their shoulder after being talked down in the media, where many questioned whether Texas was worthy of a spot in this game.  There’s nothing that better motivates a great team than to be doubted; all of that should fire up Texas more to give them an edge on Nick Saban & Alabama.

So Texas wins on offense, has the edge in intangibles, and is even with Bama on defense.  That is why I’m predicting 28-20 win by Texas over Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship Game.

What could happen that would make Alabama the victors:
* The Texas offensive line gets dominated by Bama’s front 7 in a similar fashion to how Nebraska dominated them in the Big 12 Championship Game (odds 1:2).  I think Texas has learned from that experience and will use more misdirection to prevent Bama’s defense from pinning their ears back when they rush Colt.

* Alabama has a huge day through the air and exposes the Texas defense similar to how Texas A&M did in Texas’ last regular season game (odds 1:10).  In Muschamp I trust – so I don’t think it’s likely the UT defense gets torched through the air by McElroy.

* Bama’s Heisman winner, Mark Ingram, and Trent Richardson run wild on the Longhorn defense (odds 1:6).  Again, in Muschamp I trust.  But this is a more likely scenario than the one above it because Bama has a Heisman winner in their backfield and a talented backup to him.  Texas is stout against the run, but showed a few weaknesses in the Aggie game.  So it could happen, but isn’t likely.

Finally after all of the analysis of the two teams there is one more thing that makes me think Texas wins this game.  Call this my the stars are aligned for a Texas victory theory.  This theory is based on a bunch of interesting coincidences between the 2009 Texas team and the 2005 Texas team that won the National Championship.

* Texas beat Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl last year.  Texas beat Michigan in 2005 Rose Bowl, then won National Title following season.  Could the Big 10 victory in a BCS bowl be a sign of things to come?

* Texas QB (McCoy) loses Heisman trophy to Alabama running back (Ingram).  Vince Young lost the Heisman trophy to Reggie Bush, then beat him on the field a month later.

* Texas came into 2006  National Championship game as the big underdog to the dominant team that was led by charismatic coach, Pete Carroll.  Texas is underdog for this game and again playing a coach with a big reputation (Saban).

* Texas won in 2006 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  The 2010 game is being played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Maybe they are just coincidences or maybe they are signs that Texas will win the 2010 National Championship.  Even without them I think the Longhorns will take home the crystal trophy, but they certainly don’t hurt.

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

Endorsement Profile: Maria Sharapova

Posted by ZA on December 11, 2009

Athlete: Maria Sharapova
Sport: Tennis
League: WTA
Agent: IMG (Max Eisenbud)
Age: 22   (April 19, 1987)
Rank in SI’s richest athletes: 13 (International list)

Maria Sharapova endorsement deals (thru Dec. 2009):
* Canon
* Cole Haan
* Land Rover
* Nike (athletic shoes & apparel)
* Parlux Fragrances (perfume)
* Prince (tennis racquets)
* Sony Ericsson
* Tag Heuer
* Tiffany & Co

Former Sharapova endorsement deals:
Colgate-Palmolive, Gatorade, Motorola & Tropicana

Maria Sharapova endorsement potential:
Maria Sharapova is the top female endorsement star in the sports world.  Sharapova has competition from Venus & Serena Williams, Danica Patrick, Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa; but Maria is still the top endorser among female athletes.  Sharapova’s endorsement success has been helped by her good looks; she was named in 2005 as one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful celebrities in the world.  But Sharapova is not just another pretty face (i.e.- Anna Kournikova), she is one of the top players in tennis who has won 3 of the 4 tennis major tournaments.

Only in her early 20’s Sharapova is already a global brand, which her sponsors take advantage of by featuring her in advertisements in the United States, Europe and Asia.  She is from Russia, but does not endorse any Russian companies.  But her lineup of endorsement deals is the envy of any athlete in the world.  She has some of the biggest companies on the planet tailoring their marketing campaigns around her name.  Canon has featured Sharapova in new product launches which were so successful that they even made Maria’s dog a star.

What’s next for the tennis superstar slash celebrity slash endorsement queen?  Maybe retirement.  Maria has made comments that she doesn’t plan to play tennis for her another decade.  She’s said she would like to follow the lead of Justine Henin and retire young so she can pursue other life goals.  That means that sponsors who wish to align their brand with the top earning female athlete on the planet better hurry up.  Maria Sharapova is in her prime as an endorsement star, but there may not be that many years left for advertisers to sign her if she decides to follow her dreams to raise a family.

Maria Sharapova commercial for Canon:

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gatorade dumps Tiger Woods themed sports drink

Posted by ZA on December 8, 2009

Gatorade announced they are going to discontinue Tigerade (aka: Gatorade Focus) as part of a streamlining of their product lines.  Pepsico officials said their decision to drop the Tiger themed drink has nothing to do with his current personal issues.  It was part of a decision they announced awhile back to remove the singular focus of Tiger on one product, so they could use him across their whole line of Gatorade drinks.  More here at CNBC.

Is this Tiger Woods losing his first endorsement deal?
No, it was probably just a coincidence that Gatorade made this announcement now when everyone’s awareness of all things Tiger is heightened.  It’s doubtful that Tiger loses any significant endorsements from the infidelity that’s been revealed.  It is possible that he loses some future deals from sponsors who might have been in talks with Tiger’s agent.  Or at least I think we’ll see a long drought until the next Woods endorsement deal is inked, because no company wants to take the negative PR hit of signing Tiger right now.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

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Andrew Bogut creating a fan frenzy in Milwaukee

Posted by ZA on December 6, 2009

Great article on Fanhouse about how Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut is using his own money to help improve the atmosphere at Bucks home games.  Bogut is spending $100,000 of his own bucks to pay for rowdy Bucks fans to attend Milwaukee home games for free.  This Squad 6 is a great idea and something I hope catches on across all sports.  I talked to someone at the NBA league office who said this type of program is one that they have been working on.  Sounds as if they would like to see this of type of program at more teams.

The article alludes to the group of rowdy fans in Houston that are there to support the Rockets.  I was at a Rockets versus Spurs game last week and saw these guys & gals in the stands.  I remember at the time thinking how unique (and crazy) those Rockets fans looked at a basketball game.  They looked like they got lost on the way to a soccer game and stumbled into the Toyota Center to support the Rockets instead.  But they were great fans and made a difference in the game.  So congrats to them as well for inspiring Squad 6 and hopefully starting a trend.

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

Columnist slams fellow journalists as Tiger haters

Posted by ZA on December 4, 2009

Jason Whitlock seems to always know how to get some attention.  I remember reading a column he wrote when he was still writing for the Kansas City newspaper that slammed the state of Texas and my Texas Longhorns as poor hosts of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament.  That column got a lot of attention with Longhorn fans because he was attacking our team, so naturally he got a lot of hate mail.

I quickly got over my distaste for that article, but have always wondered if his schtick is to be the incendiary columnist.  I’ve actually enjoyed a lot of his stuff in the last few years because he isn’t afraid to let it all hang out.  But I do think he sometimes picks topics that he knows will draw a big reaction from readers (as many journalists do).  Not that there is anything wrong with that; starting a conversation is often a great thing.  I was a bit shocked by his recent column on Tiger Woods because he really goes over the top to slam his fellow journalists.  A few of the highlights (or lowlights, if you prefer) below:

* “…the media, especially the print media, want to be needed.  We’re an insecure lot, dealing with festering childhood insecurities about popularity and sexuality.”   – I’ll agree the first statement is fairly true, but I’m not touching that second part.

* Tears into Charlie Pierce saying “Pierce should’ve opened his column by admitting he dislikes Woods and his opinion is skewed by that bias.”  Whitlock goes on to tell an interesting anecdote about Pierce trashing Bill Simmons because the Sports Guy had told Pierce to ‘go **** himself’ back in 2002.  Not sure if either is true, but the theory that Pierce attacks those he holds grudges against is a smack in the face to him.

* “I’m sharing this because it’s important for the public to know that the media act dishonestly all the time.  We’re far more phony than Tiger Woods ever could be.” – Wow, Whitlock might lose a few Christmas cards from his fellow journalists with that line.  I can’t comment on other people, but I do know that my opinions are often biased when I’m writing something here.  So it’s easy to imagine plenty of journalists writing something with an agenda.

* Whitlock then rips into ESPN’s Rick Reilly about an article he wrote in 2004 on Colorado football coach Gary Barnett.  Reilly criticized Barnett for the same thing that Whitlock says happened at Reilly’s own house.  I’m surprised to see Whitlock attack Rick Reilly in that way, but see the point he is making.

Go read the article by Jason Whitlock at FoxSports.  It’s nothing if not interesting.

Posted in Golf, Random Stuff, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Endorsement Profile: Tiger Woods

Posted by ZA on December 3, 2009

Athlete: Tiger Woods
Sport: Golf
League: PGA
Agent: Mark Steinberg (IMG)
Age: 33 (December 30, 1975)
Rank in SI’s 50 richest athletes:  1st
Endorsement value:  $105,000,000.00

Tiger Woods endorsement deals (thru Nov. 2009):
* AT&T
* Gatorade (Pepsico)
* Gillette (Procter & Gamble)
* EA Sports (Electronic Arts)
* NetJets
* Nike Golf
* Tag Heuer
* TLC Vision Corporation
* Upper Deck

Tiger Woods endorsement potential:
Tiger Woods is the top athlete endorser in the world today.  He is the Cadillac of athlete endorsements (even if he occasionally drives erratically in his own Escalade).  Every major corporation wants him, but few can afford him.  Woods has even surged past sports brand icon Michael Jordan in-terms of earnings; Tiger is first athlete in sports to earn more than $1 billion dollars in their career.  Much of that money comes from the rich endorsement deals that Tiger has had for over a decade.

Tiger’s endorsement history is legendary, starting with a $40 million contract from Nike when he turned pro in 1996.  Tiger basically made Nike Golf what it is today and Phil Knight rewarded him handsomely with a $100 million extension in 2006.  Tiger has become the driving force behind Nike Golf, even as they have added other big name golfers to their endorsement stable (i.e.- Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard).  Woods is a poster boy for their product line, having dropped his lucrative Titleist sponsorship when he switched to play a Nike golf ball.

Much of Woods appeal as an endorsement star has to do with his phenomenal ability on the golf course.  Tiger grabbed the sport of golf by the throat and has not yet let go; in a sport with some of the biggest endorsement stars on the planet (Phil Mickelson, Arnold Palmer) Tiger is the king.  It only helps that golf’s demographic is one that appeals to the bluest of blue chip companies; businesses that want their product featured (by Tiger Woods) to that affluent golf crowd.  Tiger’s so marketable that even his caddy, Steve Williams, has grabbed endorsement deals with Nike and Valvoline.  Let that sink in for a second…even Tiger Woods’ caddy has major corporations paying him money to endorse their product.

Perhaps the truest test of Tiger Woods endorsement appeal is understood by looking at the list of corporations that he used to endorse.  Tiger’s former deals with Accenture, American Express, Buick, General Mills, Titleist and Rolex would be the envy of most athletes, yet Woods has just moved on to bigger, more lucrative deals.

Tiger Woods has truly changed the game in-terms of endorsement deals.  Like Jordan did before him, Woods seeks out “business partnerships” rather than just contractual endorsement deals.  He is setting the standard today on how athletes and sponsors partner up.  His deals are making sports stars, like Tiger, more money from corporate sponsors than they have ever earned before.

Tiger Woods commercial for Nike Golf:

[Edit: Accenture dropped their endorsement deal with Tiger Woods in December 2009 – a few days after this post]

Posted in Endorsement Deals, Endorsement Profile, Gatorade, Golf, Nike, Sports Brands | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

BCS Bowl Selection show this Sunday on Fox

Posted by ZA on December 2, 2009

This Sunday is a huge day for college football fans; that is the day that the 2009-2010 bowl game matchups will be announced.  Fox Sports is airing their BCS Selection Show on Sunday, December 6th at 7pm CST. The 30 minute show will reveal which teams are playing in the five BCS Bowl Games.  It will also list the teams who accepted invitations for the other 33 bowl games.

The 5 BCS Bowl Games (and my prediction):
* Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs Oregon
* Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs TCU
* Orange Bowl – Georgia Tech vs Cincinnati
* Fiesta Bowl – Penn State vs Boise State
* BCS Championship Game – Florida vs Texas

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