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Archive for March, 2010

Tiger Woods’ impact on PGA Tour

Posted by ZA on March 24, 2010

The New York Times Magazine offers a good look at the affect that Tiger Woods has had on golf and the PGA tour, in their article called “Tiger Bubble”.  It offers some fascinating insight into the changes Tiger has brought to the world of professional golf.  And it analyzes how Tiger’s current scandal might affect golf.  The article has plenty of quotes that the folks at the PGA Tour headquarters might not like to hear, including these two below:

“…will investors return to an enterprise whose fortunes have seemed so inextricably linked to a single brand?”

“…almost three times as many golf courses closed as opened in the United States last year.”

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

Labor battle in MLS heats up

Posted by ZA on March 16, 2010

Major League Soccer (MLS) has been an overwhelming success.  Not because it’s a stronger league than its international counterparts nor because it’s been a huge financial success, but simply because it’s still around.  Next year would be the MLS’s 15th year in business, which would bring it one year closer to tying the longevity of the previous most successful U.S. soccer league, the NASL.  The NASL was the league that featured the famous New York Cosmos teams and ran from 1968 to 1984 (16 years).

But the MLS needs to be careful because their current labor deal has the potential to end what has been an otherwise solid run.  MLS players have announced they will strike if they MLS ownership does not renew their contracts prior to the 2010 season starting on March 25th.  Now MLS ownership is delivering some major heat to those players and threatening to even “pull the plug” on the league.

AEG President Tim Leiweke came out firing when he said that a strike could “lose us (AEG)”, which has invested more than $300 million into the MLS and owns the L.A. Galaxy.  Leiweke went on to say that there were points over the past decade that AEG considered ending the league, because it isn’t a money maker, but they’ve stuck with it because they are passionate about the mission.

I’m sure this is a calculated move by AEG and Leiweke to put more pressure on the players.  AEG is deeply invested in the MLS, so I don’t see them pulling the plug any time soon.  That said, the MLS cannot afford an extended blackout from play if they want to keep their sponsors happy.  And the MLS is not in a position where they can afford to lose any sponsors, fans or other.  So let’s hope for the sake of soccer in this country, that the MLS players and ownership can agree on some issues to avoid a lengthy strike.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

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

Guest post: Elin Holds the Cards

Posted by ZA on March 9, 2010

BrandDunk has covered different aspects of how Tiger Woods situation will affect his endorsements.  Today we have a talented guest author who offers a fresh perspective on the situation to let sponsors know when to expect a return to normal.

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This guest post is authored by Casey Harverstick, a freelance writer who has written for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Casey is an avid golfer who resides in Austin, Texas – you can email him at cnh10@hotmail.com.

Elin Holds the Cards

Much time has passed since “the wreck.”  Tiger Woods has made his much-anticipated, very public apology.  Since Tiger made it clear he’s not going to discuss what happened the night of the accident, two big questions still remain:  When will Tiger return to competitive golf?  Will Tiger and Elin remain married?

One person has the answer to these questions.  That person is not Tiger.  It’s his wife, Elin.  How the media and its revelations have impacted Elin – not Tiger – is an interesting and less frequently viewed angle.  Below is a breakdown of how various factors of this story could impact Elin’s decision.

Tiger’s Soliloquy (aka: Tiger’s apology)

Surely Elin was pleased with what Tiger said.  However I can’t help but think she was upset that he had to say it in that forum.  She’s obviously a private person.  That Tiger had to apologize to the entire world for being an awful husband couldn’t sit well.  By the time he spoke publicly, he had probably apologized to her 1000 times.  So this one wasn’t really about her at all.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t even watch.  And it definitely didn’t surprise me that she wasn’t there.

Impact on Elin: Non-factor

Hard to look at it that way, considering this was easily the biggest, most scrutinized event since the accident itself.  Elin had already heard versions of that speech ten times over by the time he stepped to the podium.  Mostly, it served to embarrass.  And provide the public with his face on camera.

The Women and Their Stories

Rachel Uchitel was the first Tiger Woods mistress to be revealed

This situation completely went out of control when it became evident that there were a lot more than just a couple women.  Per the Hillary Clinton corollary, I got the feeling Elin could possibly forgive a tryst with one woman, maybe two.  When we got into double digits, I assumed it would be a deal breaker.  Conversely, the double digit tally also paved the way for the “rehab.”  As if to say a man who sleeps around with one woman isn’t pathological.  The rehab gave Tiger something to focus on – parameters and rules and, maybe most importantly, he had a reason for his behavior.  An addiction.  Anyway, out of everything that came out, this had to be the most damning.  Especially considering it got so much media attention.  That it happened so publicly and crudely only hurts Tiger’s chances – at golf and reconciliation.  These were surely the darkest, hardest days for Elin.  It’s one thing to find out your spouse is cheating on you.  It’s another to find out about it on ESPN.

Impact on Elin: Big factor.

Ultimately, could end the marriage.  And could definitely delay Tiger’s return to the course.  If he’s fighting to keep her – however one goes about that – it will definitely not behoove him to pound balls nine hours a day while she shops or hangs out with the kids.  That said, you can’t just sit down at the dining room table and hash this out in a night or two.  But not playing doesn’t fix anything either.  Around and around we go.

Stevie’s Interview and Tiger’s Inner Circle

Tiger Woods caddie, Steve Williams, speaks out

Steve Williams, Tigers’ caddie/friend/bodyguard, has pleaded ignorance to Tiger’s philandering from the outset (Stevie’s comments on Tiger).  And like everyone else who read that, I found it incredibly hard to believe.  He’s sticking by it.  It’s important to note this isn’t your standard player-caddie relationship.  Tiger was the best man at Stevie’s wedding.  Tiger covered Stevie in tears after winning the British Open in 2006 shortly after his father’s death. He cried more on Stevie’s shoulder than he did on his mother’s or Elin’s.  It’s not like they go their separate ways after every round.  Tiger typically rents houses during tournament weeks to avoid the public – and because money isn’t an issue.  All these nights Tiger strayed Stevie wasn’t staying at a Motel 6 and he definitely wasn’t camped out in the front yard.  This interview reads like a direct plea to Elin:  Don’t make Tiger fire me.  Stevie can’t be the only one sweating his future.  From the onset there has been much speculation about Tiger’s entourage.  With reconciliation a possibility, would Elin allow Stevie, Byron Bell (best friend from childhood), Mark Steinberg (agent) and numerous other confidants to stay in the inner circle?  Tiger makes all of these people a lot of money.  Millions and millions of dollars at stake here.  This is not to say Tiger isn’t solely responsible for his actions.  But she must feel scorned by these people – they’re her friends, too.  Or at least she thought they were.

Impact on Elin: Small factor for Tiger’s return; non-factor for their reconciliation.

I’m not sure putting Tiger in time out and not letting him play with his friends will serve any other purpose than to make him unhappy – and cost him money.  Granted, that might sound pleasant in itself to her.  I doubt Elin believes Stevie was ignorant of everything, but she’s got her hands full without picking a new caddie for Tiger.  Steinberg is an agent – and nobody likes or trusts agents.  There isn’t a successful agent in the world who wouldn’t cover up for Tiger Woods, if given the chance.  That said, assuming a reconciliation is in the works, there will be discussions between Elin and Tiger about who he spends his time with on the road.  These discussions could definitely lead to a delay in his return or a change to his normal playing schedule.

Tiger’s College Girlfriend’s Article

Tiger Woods college girlfriend, Irene Folstrom

Golf.com published this article from Tiger Woods former girlfriend from his days at Stanford.

Impact on Elin: None

Laughably transparent and self-serving.  Let me get this straight, you’re coming to Tiger’s defense by saying he treated you well in college?  How would Elin read this?  Do you want her to be happy for you?  I have an easier time believing Stevie didn’t know Tiger was in orgies than believing Tiger never cheated on this one.  I hope Elin never read it.  For my money, this is the cheapest, most unattractive story I’ve come across and I’m surprised it got published on a non-tabloid website.  I’ve listed it here only as an example of the lengths the media will go to get a headline when there’s a lull.

Regarding their marriage, I don’t have a rooting interest.  I do hope the kids can have somewhat of a normal childhood (which was probably a long shot the moment they were born).  As a golf fan, I’d like to see Tiger back at Bay Hill and then, of course, The Masters.  The game misses him.  The networks and sponsors definitely miss him.  To borrow Reggie Jackson’s line, he stirs the drink.  If I could ask Tiger just one thing, it would be this:

Would you mind if I asked Elin a question?

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Much time has passed since “the wreck.”  Tiger has made his much-anticipated, very public apology.  Since Tiger made it clear he’s not going to discuss what happened the night of the accident, two big questions still remain:  When will Tiger return to competitive golf?  Will Tiger and Elin remain married?

One person has the answer to these questions.  That person is not Tiger.  It’s his wife, Elin.  How the media and its revelations have impacted Elin – not Tiger – is an interesting and less frequently viewed angle.  Below is a breakdown of how various factors of this story could impact Elin’s decision.

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

Magic Johnson & Larry Bird documentary on HBO

Posted by ZA on March 5, 2010

Tomorrow night HBO will debut their new documentary, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”.  The documentary will focus on two NBA superstars, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who had similar upbringings which led to them being linked together on the court.  The former Lakers star and Celtics star have been linked together in a few projects in recent years, including a book by author Jackie MacMullan called When the Game Was Ours.

HBO generally does a good job with their sports documentaries, so “A Courtship of Rivals” should be worth watching. I know I’ll tune in.

Posted in NBA, Sports Television | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Buy 1 Super Bowl commercial, get 3 free Final Four spots

Posted by ZA on March 4, 2010

CBS aired back-to-back spots during the 2010 Super Bowl that each featured people in their underwear.  The first TV spot was for CareerBuilder and that was immediately followed by a very similarly themed commercial from Levi’s Dockers brand.  The two spots were similar enough that Dockers claims that TV viewers didn’t all recognize that they were from different advertisers.  To make good with Dockers CBS is giving the pants brand with 3 free commercials during the NCAA Men’s Final Four.

The lesson to be learned here: If you complain loudly enough, then you are likely to get something free.  I’m sure Dockers executives were feeling the heat when their multi-million dollar Super Bowl commercial underperformed.  They turned up the heat on CBS, who then caved and gave Dockers the make goods.  I’d guess that CBS probably also made Dockers commit to additional advertising during the NCAA Tournament, which is what softened the blow of giving away 3 valuable commercial slots.

Personally I think it would be interesting if the TV networks always placed competing brands (or creative, in this case) next to each other during the same commercial break.  Then consumers could decide which spot or brand was clearly better in one-on-one format.  Every time Bud Light airs a spot, Miller Lite follows them up and then the order switches the next time each plays.  Lumping the brands in next to each other would turn up the heat on the companies to produce winning creative each and every time, because no one wants to be responsible for losing the commercial break to their biggest competitor.  I think it would make all of the brands work harder to deliver a better product, because some of them seem to be mailing it in these days (I’m talking to you Taco Bell, on the Charles Barkley spot).

[Assist: Advertising Age]

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

IOC pays price for picking Rio over Chicago

Posted by ZA on March 1, 2010

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to balance a lot of factors in selecting Rio de Janeiro as host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics over Chicago (and Barcelona & Tokyo).  They had to consider which location had the facilities and infrastructure, they considered which city/country/continent was deserving (South America has never hosted an Olympics) and of course they had to consider which candidate would help the bottom line.  Their financial considerations likely included which host city could bring lucrative sponsors and broadcast dollars.  And while the potential pool for sponsors is global and the IOC sells broadcast rights to a multiple countries, the right host country will greatly increase the financial potential.

As the IOC begins negotiations for broadcast rights on the 2016 Olympics, they may finally be having a twinge of regret at not selecting Chicago as host city.  That is because the IOC’s initial discussions with U.S. based broadcast rights partners has met with “tepid response“.  The potential U.S. broadcast partners are already working on bringing down the IOC asking price.  A normal negotiating tactic?  Sure, but keep in-mind that NBC paid $2.1 billion for the 2010 & 2012 broadcast rights.  That is the bar the IOC wants to surpass, but it seems unlikely they’ll be able to with the 2014 games in Sochi and 2016 in Rio.  Winter Games don’t normally draw the big bucks like the Summer Olympics, as evidenced by the rumored $200 million that NBC will lose to broadcast the Vancouver Olympics, so Rio is the big ticket item.

Rio will surely be a fantastic host of the 2016 Olympics and they will open up plenty of new opportunities for the Olympics in South America.  New sponsorships and new broadcast partners will be brought into the IOC family.  But even with those positives, the IOC is now realizing that Chicago would have been a cash cow.  If Chicago were the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics, all of the major U.S. sports networks would be lining up to set the record on broadcast rights paid on an Olympic games.  Chicago would have likely netted a broadcast rights deal north of $2.5 billion, which is the new mark the IOC and Rio have to try to surpass.  If they don’t the IOC might for the first time have some regrets over picking Rio over Chicago.

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