NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal loves Krispy Kreme doughnuts so much that he has bought into the company, purchasing an iconic doughnut shop in Atlanta and signing on to become a global spokesman for the company — an occasion he celebrated by visiting company headquarters and enjoying some of the product — with the first activation a 'Shaq-or-Treat' Halloween giveaway on social media. 'Our goal is to help people find their happy place, and what better way than with a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts,' said Shaq. MORE
It's no secret that such companies as Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller, Molson Coors and Heineken have invested heavily in sports alliances and sponsorships, and a new survey from The Harris Poll shows that fans and consumers are giving them a big ROI, with people of legal drinking age saying that beer is their alcoholic beverage of choice when watching football, baseball, auto racing, basketball, hockey and numerous other sports, especially good news for A-B, which has official deals with the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, USA Basketball, Madison Square Garden, Staples Center and other sports leagues and venues. MORE
Citing a 'growing consumer base and huge market potential,' the global licensed sports merchandise market is expected to top $28B this year and continue its climb to more than $48B by 2024, according to a just-released report from Transparency Market Research, which shows that North America accounts for more than 50% of global of merchandise sales and that, within the region, the NFL and MLB drive half all revenue, but also warns that worldwide sales of counterfeit is an even bigger market, topping $960B. MORE
Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose are among the players who will be on new teams when the NBA season begins, but the NBA on TNT's Inside the NBA will return with its Emmy-winning roster, including Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley, adding a new NBA on TNT Road Show platform and in '17 The Race Card hosted by Barkley, who in this wide-ranging Q&A talks about Colin Kaepernick, the role of athletes on the field and in the community, Kevin Durant as hero and villain, commissioner Adam Silver's decision to pull the ASG from Charlotte, his predictions for the upcoming season and the reason why LeBron James may never make his personal Top Five all-time NBA players.
Although he has been in the news a lot lately for things he has not done, including withdrawing from what would have been his first competitive tournaments in 14 months, Tiger Woods in now making news for something he is doing, unveiling TGR Ventures, an overaching umbrella for other platforms under his domain — such as The Tiger Woods Foundation, TGR Live and TGR Designs — as well as projects he is planning for the future, complete with a new logo and new business strategies. 'As I work toward retuning to the sport I love, I'm also taking the next step in what I like to call Chapter 2: My evolution as a competitor off the course,' Woods wrote on his Web site. MORE
Calling it the most significant change to the brand in 30 years, MetLife has pulled the collar on its lead 'spokesdog,' putting an end to marketing efforts that since the mid-1980s have starred the characters from Peanuts created by Charles Schulz, including Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy, in place of a 'Navigating Life Together' multi-media message that is 'driven by consumer insights,' meaning that people will no longer see highly visible blimps with Snoopy's image that hovered over sports and other events and will see a phasing out of the use of the animated dog at MetLife Stadium, where a statue and other activations have involved consumers and fans of the NFL's New York Jets and Giants. MORE
In 1966, The North Face was founded in San Francisco to sell gear to people mad about wilderness exploration, and now the brand has launched 'Question Madness,' a multi-media global effort to celebrate its golden anniversary, with images that focus on those who challenge themselves in the great outdoors via mountain climbing, trekking, cliff and ice climbing, hang gliding and other extreme actions — with the campaign asking people to submit narrative of their own adventures — supported by Internet, social media, OOH, a digital series that gets up close and personal with outdoor athletes and the opening of a flagship store in New York and another new destination in San Francisco. MORE
As the NHL celebrates its 100th anniversary this season, the comparatively young Los Angeles Kings are honorng their 50th anniversary with marketing, fan activations, special jerseys and apparel and a roster of partners that will support numerous platforms and multi-media campaigns during 2016-17 — ramping up to the league's All-Star Game weekend in L.A. this January — including McDonald's, Delta Air Lines, New Era, StubHub, Staples, Geico, Cooper Tires and Children's Hospital Los Angeles; with a bevy of in-arena and community events to feature current and former Kings players, led by the man regarded as the greatest NHL player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, who has a statue outside of Staples Center and recently was named as ambassador for the NHL's own centennial party. MORE
The power of eSports, which has been ramping up for several years, continues to grow and is reaching the point where the number of players, followers and marketing and media partners is approaching NFL, MLB and NBA levels, according to a just-released report from research and consulting company NewZoo, which shows that the number of people in the U.S. who watch pro sports and are aligned with eSports is growing, that more executives and players in pro sports are investing in eSports properties and that more non-endemic companies that also have sports ties — such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, MasterCard, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings and General Mills — are becoming official partners in eSports. MORE
Last year, iconic trading card company Topps asked people to vote for the player they believed should appear on the prestigious No. 1 card in its MLB Series — a spot that has been held by the likes of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Derek Jeter and 2016 winner, Mike Trout — and now the voting is open for the No. 1 card in the 2017 Baseball Series One, with candidates including David 'Big Papi' Ortiz, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Kris Bryant, Clayton Kershaw, Gary Sanchez, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts and Trout, who is seeking a rare back-to-back top-card victory. MORE
With its new season about to tip off, the NBA is unveiling the latest generation of its umbrella 'This Is Why We Play' multi-platform campaign, anchored by one spot featuring Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder explaining that despite what happened last year, 'You can't live in the past — the wins, the losses — all that means zero now, we all start from zero'; and a secnd spot in which Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers offers, 'Winning the NBA championship was a challenge, but repeating will be, too, because there are 29 teams in our way again.' MORE
Last month, Wayne Gretzky, regarded as the greatest player in the history of the NHL, was named ambassador for the league's 100th anniversary celebration, which will see a multitude of activations this season, and now 'The Great One' is back with the Edmonton Oilers, which traded him to the Los Angeles Kings nearly 30 years ago after he led them to four Stanley Cups, as a partner and vice-chairman — his first NHL front-office position since 2009 — with the franchise also unveiling a Gretzky statue and a Hall of Fame filled with Gretzky memorabilia. Explained Gretzky, 'When team owner Daryl Katz and I talked a few months ago about coming back to Edmonton and the NHL, we felt this was the right opportunity.' MORE
As part of its ongoing strategy to establish itself in the fitness, exercise and workout category, Reebok has signed a pact with Emily Skye, the Australian-born founder of the FIT workout platform, who has more than 9.7M followers on Facebook and Twitter, to appear in marketing and activations and collaborate with the division of adidas to create a special line of footwear. 'She has an amazing story that typifies what our 'Be More Human' platform stands for: That enriching our lives through fitness can have a positive impact on our social and mental well-being,' said Steven Robaire, director of Instructor Marketing for Reebok. MORE
Ad Spotlight: Katy Perry Vote, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Showtime Twin Peaks, NFL Breast Cancer Awareness
NEWS FROM NFL 2016
Now in the second of a four-year deal as the official vehicle for the NFL, Hyundai has extended its team alliances — recently adding the Los Angeles Rams — and is upping its presence in social media, launching a platform on Facebook that puts rival teams and the fans who support them face-to-face via a 'Put Your Profile On The Line' effort and another on Twitter that ties into NFL broadcasts, both with the end goal of raising brand awareness for the automaker among consumers while offering what many football fans see as the ultimate prize, tickets to Super Bowl LI this February in Houston. 'Friendly competition between rivals is an important part of NFL culture and we are tapping into that passion,' said Paul Imhoff, Hyundai director-marketing communications. MORE
For most of its history, NFL games aired on broadcast and then cable networks, but last year saw the first live-stream game on Yahoo and this year the league has signed with Twitter to live-stream ten Thursday Night Football games that will air during the season on CBS, NBC and NFL Network, which comes at a time when more players are not just interacting with fans via social media but using various platforms to build their own brands. But as Brian Rolapp, evp-NFL Media and CEO/president for NFL Network, reveals in this Q&A, while the league has embraced the future of social media to help grow the NFL and bring regular season, playoff games and the Super Bowl — as well as marketing messages from league partners — to people domestically and worldwide, it also is playing watchdog to see that coaches, players, fans and others are not abusing, this burgeoning power.
The NFL is a big business, with an anticipated revenue of $13.3B this season, and much of that money comes from fans on game day, but in a league that strives for on-field parity the cost of seeing a game varies wildly, from an average high of $272 to attend a Washington Redskins game in FedEx Field and $268. to see the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium to an average low of $132 to see the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium and $133 to watch the Cleveland Browns in First Energy Stadium, according to a new survey from GoBankingRates.com, which also points out that paying $75 to park at AT&T Stadium is more than the average ticket price for such teams as the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. MORE
The New England Patriots and their QB Tom Brady have grown accustomed to being the whipping boys for the NFL and NFL fans — other than their own, who have rallied around the team with an 'us-against-them' attitude that, along with other factors, makes then the most loyal fans in the league for the third consecutive year, according to research and consulting firm Brand Keys, which has also put in the Top Five the fans for the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers but has relegated to the Bottom Five fans for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns. MORE
The NFL Draft, a long-time staple in New York before relocating to Chicago in 2015, is on the move again, returning to Philadelphia — which hosted the initial Draft in 1936 and last feted the event in 1961 — for 2017 as part of the NFL's strategy to enhance and financially enrich the platform, with local planners envisioning more than 200K visitors and eying an $80M economic impact on the city via what could be a week-long party in late April that is scheduled to include many league and city marketing partners and sponsors and cover an area that features such landmarks as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rodin Museum and the Cathedral Basilica. MORE
Calling it an alliance that combines 'America's toughest trucks with football's toughest players,' the NFL has signed a three-year deal naming Ford Truck F-Series as the 'official truck' partner for the league, complete with multi-media marketing, a sweepstakes offering such goodies as a trip to Super Bowl LI in Houston this February and a 2017 Ford Truck, custom-designed Ford trucks for each team, a new platform under which Ford Truck will name the 'offensive line of the week' and at season's end the 'offensive line of the year' and a game day 'Built Ford Tough Tailgate Trucks on Demand' activation in conjunction with Uber in which fans at NFL games can have delivered to their pre-game party food, tickets and NFL merchandise. MORE
The naming rights deal to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, home to the NFL's Denver Broncos, has been in disarray since the retailer unveiled plans to go out of business and sell off its assets, which include a ten-year deal with owners of the Stadium, but the Broncos themselves have acquired the contract and are in the midst of speaking with potential naming rights partners, including such team sponsors as Papa John's, United Airlines, CenturyLink, Anheuser-Busch and U.S. Bank, as well as 'potential new partners.' MORE
Cal Ripken Jr. knows more than a lot when it comes to playing baseball at a high level, a streak of historic proportions and farewell tours, which puts him in rarified company with another Baseball Hall of Famer, Vin Scully. As Ripken prepares to cover the MLB AL playoffs for TBS, he opens up in a Q&A about Scully, the mental and physical challenges of maintaining a playing streak for more than 15 years (Scully has been at it for 67 years!), baseball in the Olympics, Big Papi's farewell tour and why pitchers did not want to throw at him.
Via a series of ads, as the purportedly 'unscripted' scenario goes, Gatorade calls to task some of its own consumers, who the sports drink brand deems as being unworthy due to a lack of sweat, in which J.J. Watt, Bryce Harper, Karl-Anthony Towns and Real Madrid star James Rodriguez confront 'unsuspecting' pedestrians walking down the street who just happen to be carrying bottles of Gatorade, challenging them to 'Burn It To Earn It,' including Watt tackling one guy and berating a woman who can't move an NFL tackle sled, Harper castigating a man who can't pitch and another who can't run and Towns towering over a diminutive woman whose Gatorade he has taken and refuses to return and picking up a guy as if he were a rag doll in an effort to help him dunk. MORE
Among the gifts that David 'Big Papi' Ortiz has received during the final season of what has been a 20-year MLB career are cigars, a hand-made Stetson cowboy hat, the actual dugout phone he smashed in Baltimore in 2013 and a life-size Lego statue, but he now can add to the list a 'Thank You Big Papi' commercial from MLB to air now through the post-season that features highlights from his playing days both on and off the field, with an English version narrated by actor Ben Affleck and an Hispanic version with voiceover from former teammate Pedro Martinez, both offering, 'For all the big moments. The big blasts. The big smile. The big heart. You're not walking away. You're walking off.' MORE
Arguably regarded as the best reliever of all time, Mariano Rivera — who during his 18-year career with the New York Yankees saved an MLB record 652 games and was a member of five World Series championships — has signed on to represent OrthoLite, a leading provider of comfort and performance insoles, in marketing, activations and other efforts, with the alliance to include support for the Mariano Rivera Foundation. 'His commitment to performance on the field and beyond makes him the perfect fit to serve as our new brand ambassador,' said OrthoLite CMO Glenn Barrett. MORE
In what the International Olympic Committee said was the 'most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history,' five sports have been added to the roster beginning with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games — baseball-softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing — putting baseball-softball back in the Olympics after being voted out and not on the program for 2012 London and the current Rio Games and the overall inclusion expected to add 18 events and 474 athletes. Said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, 'Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics.' MORE
If you are looking for diamonds buried in the infield of a baseball stadium or diamonds in the rough that could become gems, Minor League Baseball has that and more, with a roster of 160 clubs — including such iconic teams as the Toledo Mud Hens, Las Vegas 51s, Columbus Clippers and Durham Bulls — some 43M people through the turnstiles, 107M fans, national deals including Esurance and John Deere and rising retail sales of merchandise. But as David Wright, former veteran executive with MLS and now Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer for MiLB reveals in this Q&A, Minor League Baseball is reinventing itself to attract national marketers and make the game-day environment even more inclusive to an audience that is 'tech-savvy, active and family-based' without losing its traditional down-home ambiance, out-of-the-box promotional creativity — think Asparagus Night, CATurday and Diamond Digs — while remaining a development platform for future MLB stars, all of which sets the 115-year-old MiLB apart from other sports leagues.
With the dust from the 2016 All-Star Game having just settled, and Home Run Derby balls hit by Giancarlo Stanton still rattling around PetCo Park, MLB has started the march to the 2017 All-Star Game and festivities in Miami Marlins Park, unveiling the official logo and accompanying promo video for such events as the SiriusXM Futures Game, T-Mobile Home Run Derby — where Marlins outfielder Stanton could defend his title while serving as one of the hosts for the week of events — the FanFest in the Miami Beach Convention Center and the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, with the Marlins using the jewel activities to sell season tickets for this year and beyond. MORE
NEWS FROM COLLEGE 2016
When it comes to sports, there are a lot of stats that define the action on the field or court, but outside the playing field there are stats of much more importance. Pediatric cancer is the second leading cause of death among children in the U.S. ages 1-14, with more than 10K new cases expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society, which has teamed with a dozen universities represented by IMG College to launch 'A House United To Tackle Pediatric Cancer,' supported by coaches, athletes and multi-media marketing including a dedicated Web site were visitors can make donations in the name of such schools as Duke, FSU, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, UCLA, Houston, Mississippi, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Washington, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. MORE
While millions of fans prepare for the 2016 college football season, Nissan has gotten the party started with the sixth edition of its multi-platform Heisman House, which this year adds Tim Tebow and NFL rookie Derreck Henry to a mix of former Heisman Trophy winners including Eddie George, Doug Flutie, Herschel Walker, Tim Brown, Tony Dorsett and George Rogers, with a campaign that includes TV — with Henry and Tebow the focus of early efforts — print, radio, Internet, social media and such on-campus activation as the Heisman House Tour, with Nissan also supporting via an alliance with 100 schools and numerous NCAA championships and a fan-centric app that lets people color their photo face in their favorite school colors as well as multi-layer support from lead partner ESPN. MORE
Buffalo Wild Wings, which since 2013 has been the 'official hangout for March Madness,' has renewed and expanded its alliance with the NCAA, acquiring the role of 'official hangout for NCAA' sports, to include enhanced marketing and activation across 90 championships and special marketing and promotional considerations in 2019 when the Men's Div. I Final Four is played in its hometown of Minnesota, with support coming from a new alliance with 23 schools and the chain's title sponsorship of CFB's Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, much of which has been brought to life in a new TV spot where mascots from schools nationwide put aside their rivalries and come together over wings and B-Dubs fun. MORE
In an effort to broaden its presence in college basketball, Under Armour has signed its first deal with New York's Madison Square Garden to become the official partner of college hoops during regular-season games in the 'World's Most Famous Arena,' an alliance that will be supported by multi-level marketing and anchored by 'Reunion,' a planned annual double-header scheduled to begin in December that will see South Carolina play Seton Hall and Auburn take on Boston College — all four squads being part of Under Armour's partnership roster and all four having ties to The Garden or their opponent, including SC's NIT title-winning game there in 2006 and a 1974 victory over Seton Hall in the venue, Seton Hall's regular presence as a member of the Big East Conference and Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl's history at BC, his alma mater and site of his first hoops job as an assistant coach. MORE
Its roster of endorsers includes such pro athletes as Serena Williams, Cam Newton, Dwyane Wade, J.J., Watt, Bryce Harper, Karl-Anthony Towns and Usain Bolt, but the focus of Gatorade's new 'Incredible Is Inevitable' push is youth and prep sports, with a series of ads putting a spotlight on football, basketball and soccer, respectively, supporting the brand's on-going support of such programs as the Gatorade High School Athletes of the Year. Little League Baseball and Pop Warner, with the spots getting up-close and personal during intense games on the field and strenuous workouts during practice, all of which, fueled by Gatorade, shows how hard work and unwavering dedication tends to win out during competition, if not always in victories, certainly in personal gains and development. MORE
NEWS FROM NBA 2016-17
Having been a brand spokesman since 2003, LeBron James is well aware of the tactics Coca-Cola uses to sell people Sprite, but in its new 'Wanna Sprite' multi-media campaign, Sprite sends James — assisted by the likes of rapper Lil Yachty and other 'influencers' — on a different path in which the NBA star ensures consumers, 'I would never tell you to drink Sprite, even if I was in a Sprite commercial, which I am, and even if you were watching me in a Sprite commercial, which you are, and even if you were eating tacos with extra hot sauce.' The punch line for this creative, which is supported by Internet, social media and an emoji: 'I'd ask: You wanna Sprite?' MORE
During his Hall of Fame career in the NBA, Julius 'Dr. J' Erving played alongside the likes of Darryl Dawkins, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks, but now via a 'strategic partnership' with Authentic Brands Group — which will own and manage the intellectual property of Erving in marketing, licensing and other deals worldwide — he is on an ABG roster that includes Shaquille O'Neal and the estates of Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, as well as such brands as Prince (tennis), TapouT (MMA), Spyder (outdoor apparel) and Frederick's of Hollywood. 'We are excited to continue Dr. J's legacy into consumer brands as well as luxury, travel and corporate sponsorships,' said ABG president Nick Woodhouse. MORE
In his first national marketing appearance since moving from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant teams with American Family Insurance brand ambassadors J.J. Watt and MLB icon Derek Jeter for a multi-media push that sees the trio working with organizations dedicated to helping adults and kids in need of food and education, with Durant appearing in a spot in which he meets boy whose life mirrors that of KD: being raised by a hard-working single mom in Washington DC, all part of AmFam's strategy to show that 'being a true dream champion means providing real support, not just cheering from the sidelines.' MORE
Calling it the 'fastest way to find out what's happening in the NBA and to have a discussion about it,' Twitter has signed an expanded content partnership with the NBA to include exclusive original live programming and other features to Twitter, Vine and Periscope, with the league also ramping up its current content across the platforms, beginning with the 2016-17 season, putting the NBA in a position to build on its current base of 22.4M followers — the most among sports leagues worldwide, ahead of the NFL (19.4M), WWE (7.7M) and MLB (6M) — moving NBA commissioner Adam Silver to say, "This expanded partnership will help feed our fans' growing demand for the NBA by more deeply integrating the league across Twitter's platforms." MORE
It must be 'The Hoopers,' because State Farm, whose multi-platform campaign starring Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett and Damian Lillard, this past season has replaced Anheuser-Busch as the NBA's most active sponsor, according to research firm IEG, which also said that overall league sponsorship deals hit a record $799M and that the most active partners also included FanDuel, MillerCoors, Coke, PepsiCo, Geico and Kia Motors, while the most active categories were insurance, QSR, non-alcoholic beverages, medical and retail. MORE
NEWS FROM NHL 2016-17
Backed by marketing and media partners, current players, icons led by Wayne Gretzky and a multi-platform strategy, the NHL will celebrate its Centennial this coming season with events to run from January to December and involve all 30 teams and all NHL cities across the U.S. and Canada, including the naming of the league's 100 Greatest Players, an interactive truck tour with videogames and memorabilia, special activations at the All-Star, outdoor games and playoffs and experiential festivities for fans. MORE
As the NHL prepares for the 2016-17 season and a year-long celebration of its Centennial anniversary, it has made major changes to its marketing department, naming Heidi Browning, who since 2011 has been svp-strategic solutions for Pandora Internet Radio, as its new CMO, with duties to include marketing strategy, creative development, production and, according to the NHL, a 'particular focus on digital and social initiatives'; appointing Brian Jennings, who had been the league's long-time svp-marketing, as Chief Branding Officer with added responsibilities; and realigning several other people, positions and departments. MORE
When the World Cup of Hockey begins on Sept. 17, it won't just feature many of the sport's best players in the world but also a roster of top-flight marketers that have attached their name to a two-week event the NHL and NHLPA intends to have the same impact as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, among them adidas, Exxon/Mobil, Geico, Honda, Pepsi, SAP and Visa, but all eyes will also be on lead broadcast partner ESPN, which for the first time in a dozen years is covering from start to finish an NHL competition, with the cable network planning to attract not just core hockey fans but also those casual and non-hockey people who have deserted the 'worldwide leader in sports' to get their ice time elsewhere. MORE
Based on the observation that "winning contributes more to NHL fan loyalty than in any other league," the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have been rated the No. 1 team in the 2016 NHL Sports Fan Loyalty Index from research and consulting firm Brand Keys, moving up from No. 5 last year and replacing the Chicago Blackhawks, which won the Cup in 2014-15 — based on such factors as Pure Entertainment, Authenticity, Fan Bonding and History and Tradition — with the top teams also including the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks; but the team at the bottom with the least loyal fans, driven there in part by moving from Long Island to Brooklyn, is the New York Islanders. MORE
The World Cup of Hockey many be dominating the news on-ice, but Bauer Hockey, a major global equipment company whose roster includes nearly 200 NHL players, has also made headlines by signing four of the top women players in the sport to exclusive deals, including arguably the best U.S. woman in the game, Hilary Knight, as well as Marie-Philip Poulin, Jennifer Wakefield and Kacey Bellamy, each of whom have won Olympic, national and/or pro team honors, with Knight, who plays for the National Women's Hockey League Boston Pride, and the others expected to appear in upcoming marketing and activations. MORE
NEWS FROM eSPORTS
Add General Mills to the list of such non-endemic brands as Coca-Cola, Nissan, Buffalo Wild Wings and Red Bull either entering or expanding their role in the burgeoning eSports fray, with the food company signing a deal as the first sponsor for Yahoo eSports Live, a new weekly platform that will include news, analysis and coverage of events in the category, with GM supporting via marketing behind Resse's Puffs Cereal campaign in an effort to target 'an important audience of millennials.' MORE
AEG, which owns or operates sports and entertainment venues, teams and platforms globally, and major category driver ESL have signed a strategic long-term partnership with the lead goal ito 'broaden the worldwide reach of eSports' — a category anticipated to top the $1B mark by 2019 — including the potential of holding events in such AEG destinations as Barclays Center (Brooklyn), The O2 (London) and Staples Center (Los Angeles); leveraging AEG's experience in ticketing, marketing and producing live events; and expanding upon and developing new events across ESL's portfolio. MORE
Claiming more then 10M monthly players and 200M downloads, Lima Sky is preparing to bring its Doodle Jump game to the world of eSports, naming Skillz as the official tech partner for the upcoming launch, with game creators anticipating the same impact as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends when those platforms entered, and changed, the global category landscape, which currently has more than 185M fans and is on pace to top $9B in revenue in 2017, per industry analysts. According to Andrew Paradise, CEO for Skillz, "Doodle Jump already has hundreds of millions of players . . . it will now have organized, broadcasted tournaments and competitive leagues to transform it into a full-fledged eSport." MORE
The plan for an eSports competition unveiled by Turner Broadcasting and WME | IMG this past September — a strategic move into the burgeoning category that has a global viewing audience of motre than 225M and revenue expected to top $765M by 2018 — finally has a play date, with the two media companies saying that its eLeague would make its debut on May 24 featuring Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offense, including planned ten-week coverage of the event to include a regular season, playoffs and Global Championship, with Turner expected to support with such multi-media marketing as TV, tie-ins with Turner Sports properties NBA on TNT and Inside the NBA, ads during NCAA Men's Div. 1 basketball March Madness (which Turner airs on TNT, TBS and truTV in alliance with CBS), Internet and social media. MORE
NEWS FROM TENNIS 2016-17
Driven by Serena Williams' quest to set a Grand Slam record, Roger Federer's $60M in endorsements (despite dropping out of the Olympcis and U.S. Open due to rehab) and activation led by such companies as Emirates Airline, FedEx, BNP Paribas, Coca-Cola and Rolex, tennis is projected to reach a record $801M in sponsorship deals this year, according to a new report from IEG, which represents a 4% increase over 2015 and more than $60M over 2014, but women's tennis still took a hit due to such factors as low TV ratings and the absence of Maria Sharapova (PED-related suspension) and Victoria Azarenka (pregnancy), both of whom missed the Olympics, U.S. Open and other tournaments. MORE
The 2016 U.S. Tennis Open arrives with a new $150M roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Serena Williams seeking her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, No. 1 seeded Novak Djokovic looking to rebound from a first-round Olympics loss to No. 2 ranked Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal again eying a title after two years, Roger Federer (injury) and Maria Sharapova (suspension) out, ESPN logging in with more than 1,400 hours on network and WatchESPN and plenty of other storylines to keep such marketing partners as Chase, American Express, JP Morgan, Mercedes-Benz, Citizen, Emirates, IBM, Heineken, Grey Goose, Westin and Polo-Ralph Lauren in the eyes and wallets of tennis fans, TV viewers and other consumers for the next two weeks. MORE
Stating that he needs 'more extensive rehabilitation' following knee surgery earlier this year, world No. 3 ranked Roger Federer said that he and his doctors have agreed that he needs to shut down his playing schedule for the remainder of 2016, including representing Switzerland in the Summer Olympics and seeking a Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open, also putting on hold an estimated $30M in endorsement deals with marketing partners such as Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex and Moet & Chandon. 'If I want to play on the ATP World Tour for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover.' MORE
The USA tennis team that will compete in the Summer Games is not only loaded with talent and Grand Slam wins, but a plethora of marketing partners, with the squad led by Serena Williams, fresh off her 22nd career Grand Slam title (which came at Wimbledon) and eyeing the upcoming U.S. Open, who has deals that include IBM, Gatorade and Nike; Venus Williams, Mike and Bob Bryan, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Jack Sock and others, as the U.S. seeks to defend the women's singles gold medal (Serena Williams), women's doubles gold (Serena and Venus Williams) and men's doubles gold (Bryan Brothers) won in London in 2012 while attempting to add more medals to the Team USA coffers. MORE
Maria Sharapova, the former world No. 1 women's tennis player currently serving a two-year suspension due to her positive test for a banned substance, will not be able to play in the Summer Games or U.S. Open because her appeal of the ban will not be heard until September, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after Sharapova's team and the International Tennis Federation, which imposed the suspension, both required additional time to "complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions,' pushing a hearing and potential decision back several months as Sharapova continues to drop in the rankings (she currently is No. 96), remain absent from the tennis courts and off the drawing board for new marketing campaigns and endorsements, the latter of which she earned some $23M last year. MORE
Despite a lot of rain and the absence of such stars as Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, Tennis Channel still has the game's most captivating player in Serena Williams, the world's No. 1 ranked man in Novak Djokovic and a bevy of players on both sides seeking to win a Grand Slam at the French Open. But as Robyn Miller, svp-marketing for Tennis Channel, relates in this Q&A, covering Serena's historic quest for her 22nd Grand Slam is significant, but only part of the overall marketing support and broadcast coverage being put into the tournament at Roland Garros in Paris. 'This is our most important event of the year and we definitely have pulled out all the stops'
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Little did Olympic icon Michael Phelps realize when his 'Phelps Face' scowl was shown on NBC prior to a swimming event during the 2016 Summer Games that it would lead to an endorsement deal, but that is what happened, according to Intel, which has launched a humorous multi-platform campaign in which Phelps is encouraged by actor Jim Parsons to upgrade his old PC — 'Why is the world's fastest swimmer using the world's slowest computer?' — to a new Intel-driven version, with one commercial re-enacting the moment when Phelps, in meditation, was seemingly interrupted by the pre-competition routine of Chad le Clos, who appeared to be shadow-boxing and dancing in front of his rival, causing Phelps to put on his now legendary angry mug. MORE
Facing tough competition from rival bid cities and strong opposition from within its own city, the Italian National Olympic Committee has officially withdrawn its bid for Rome to host the 2024 Summer Games, a move that was months in the making due to finances and the political climate in the city, leaving front-runners Los Angeles and Paris, as well as Budapest, still in the running, with a decision from the International Olympic Committee due next September. 'We cannot do any more than we have done,' said Committee chairman Giovanni Malago. 'The Bid Committee is officially liquidated.' MORE
Led by such brands as Gatorade, Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch and MarathonFoto, sponsorship spend behind the likes of marathons, cross-country cycling, mountain climbing and obstacle competitions is projected to hit a record $124.6M in 2016, according to research firm IEG, which said the figure is up nearly 5% from the $118.8M spend last year and more than $20M from just four years ago, with the Gatorade Endurance division building its portfolio of products via athletes including Ironman champ Luke McKenzie and pro triathlete Beth Gerdes (pictured) and MarathonFoto going the distance with such events as the Boston Marathon, TCS NYC Marathon and the Virgin Money London Marathon. MORE
Athletes who will be part of Team USA for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea and the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo will not have to worry about their breakfast as Kellogg's has re-signed with the U.S. Olympic Committee for another four years, adding to an Olympics history that has seen the cereal maker support the Games and/or Team USA dating back to 1976, with the company expected to continue supporting via a multi-platform effort that in Rio this past summer translated into tremendous success for Team Kellogg's members Simone Biles (gymnastics), Julie Johnson (soccer), Jimmy Butler (basketball) and others. MORE
With perfomers such as Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, Drake, Kanye West, the Rolling Stones, Guns 'n' Roses and AC/DC on the road, and such festivals as iHeartRadio, Desert Trip, Lollapalooza, Coachella and Austin City Limits in full swing, it is little surprise that the music industry is hitting some high notes in ticket sales and sponsorship deals, but numbers from marketing analysts show that the score may be even better than expected, with 2016 projected to see a record $1.47B in sponsorship deals, led by Anheuser-Busch — which, among other activations, took over as lead sponsor for SXSW — PepsiCo, Diageo, Coca-Cola and Jack Daniel's parent company Brown Foreman, according to research firm IEG, which also reported that the most active categories include wine & spirits, beer, non-alcoholic beverages, food, retail and financial firms. MORE
When the Professional Bull Riders BlueDef Tour hit Memphis on Tuesday, it played in a FedEx Forum filled with cowboys, bulls and some 19K executives and employees from AutoZone — aka AutoZoners — in what was billed as a private event to celebrate the alliance between PBR and the auto retail chain, but still counting wins toward points on the BlueDef Tour that will culminate in late October during World Finals Week in Las Vegas. MORE
After months of planning, Gillette has signed a three-year pact making it a global partner with FC Barcelona, the first such deal for the grooming brand, raising the P&G division's previous status as regional partner in Latin American and putting it on a roster of Barcelona alliances that include Nike, jersey-front sponsor Qatar, Audi, Gatorade and Stanley Black & Decker, with Gillette planning to support via multi-platform marketing to feature star player Neymar Jr. and teammates as part of the club's on-going strategy to build its international business impact — the franchise is currently valued at $3.55B — and worldwide fan base, which already includes more than 18.5M followers on Twitter and 94.3M likes on Facebook. MORE
The usual suspects are sitting atop the list of top-selling concert tours for the Fall, led by Adele, Drake, Beyoncé, Maroon 5 and Kanye West, but it is a limited-tour run starring Temple of the Dog that is commanding top-dollar; and a two-weekend festival in California, Desert Trip, with a roster of classic rockers that includes the Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, that has the cash registers really ringing, according to online ticket marketplace StubHub, with more than 70K tickets per day for six days sold in less than five hours and promoters AEG Live expecting a festival record $150M in gross revenue. MORE
Following in the footsteps of UFC's $4B acquisition by WME|IMG, venerable racing circuit Formula 1 has been acquired for $4B+ by Liberty Media, whose global investments include the Atlanta Braves, Live Nation and SiriusXM, with the intention of uplifting the circuit's image and status among fans, drivers, team owners and potential new and current marketing partners, the latter of which includes Heineken, financial firm UBS, Rolex, Red Bull and some 200 companies involved with international F1 races, with new ownership and executives such as Chase Carey, former vice-chairman for 21st Century Fox and now chairman for the racing platform, anticipating a 2017 season scheduled to compete in such locales as China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Monaco and Canada and be broadcast to more than 450M in 200 countries. MORE
Behind alliances that include Nascar, the NFL, Dew Tour, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, Nitro Circus and Lallapalooza, Toyota has become the most active sponsor among car companies in the U.S., spending upward of $200M in a category in which the Top Ten automakers spent some $790M on deals last year, according to a new report from research and consulting firm IEG, with sports receiving 64% of the dollars — led by Kia putting 83% of its sponsorship money into such pacts as the NBA and LPGA — while Ford came in second in spend at $160M, followed by GM, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, FCA, BMW and VW. MORE
Columbia Sportswear is looking to hire two new employees, but if you want to become their Director of Toughness you first will have to prove how rugged you are by trekking, sweating and scrambling to an interview at one of four remote destinations, including Mt. Hood Wilderness in Oregon, in what the company has dubbed in marketing, 'The Hardest Interview To Get To,' with the job description including traveling the world for nine months to such locations as Equador's Cayambe volcano and the Arctic coast of Manitoba to test Columbia's sportwear and gear through 'the harshest conditions imaginable,' with the added perk of a salary and the 'joy of great adventure.' MORE
A recent article from Forbes listed the highest-paid celebrities and athletes in the world, but as The Beatles first sang in 1964, 'Money can't buy me love,' which seems to be the point of a new study from SurveyMonkey.com, indicating that stars who make the most — Taylor Swift, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Kevin Hart and Adele among them — are sometimes, but not always, respected or admired by the general public, as seen by Swift, who scores well in many categories but is not in the Top Ten 'Most Respected'; and James, who is seen as talented and with a strong brand but also as the 'Most Overpaid' star in the world. MORE
This year, for the first time since 1904, golf is getting a global stage at the Olympics, which will help to drive interest among casual and young fans as well as those with no golf ties, which, added to the presence of such players as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson has encouraged such brands as Anheuser-Busch, MasterCard, Coca-Cola, Bacardi and Rolex to support sponsorship spending that this year is expected to hit a record $1.8B, according to research firm IEG, using strategies that could potentially be seen by the more than 81M people who the National Golf Federation says watch golf on TV, their computers, mobile phones and other devices. MORE
If your '96 Honda Accord or '98 Honda Civic has gone missing, you're not alone as more than a combined 100K of those two cars were stolen last year, about one-seventh of all cars reported heisted in 2015, according to a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, topping a 'Hot Wheels' list that also includes the '06 Ford full-size Pickup, '04 Chevrolet full-size Pickup and the '14 Toyota Camry; while a separate list of 2015 year model vehicles most popular among thieves in 2015 is headed by the Nissan Altima, Chrysler 200 and Toyota Camry. MORE
For the ninth consecutive year, Coca-Cola has been named the 'most powerful brand' in the U.S., topping a list of 100 companies that include Hershey (No. 2), Bayer (No. 3), Disney (No. 4), Apple (No. 5), Microsoft (No. 6) and Google (No. 10), according to research and tech firm Tenet Partners, with Coke retaining the lead position thanks in part to Selina Gomez, who has been a key spokesperson in the brand's 'Share a Coke and a Smile' multi-platform campaign, part of which included posting to her Instagram account a photo (taken by world-renowned photographer Guy Aroch) of her smiling and sipping a Coke, which has garnered to date more than 4.6M likes. MORE
Led by the likes of Roman Reigns, John Cena, Dean Ambrose and Sasha Banks, and citing record numbers at WWE Network and from WrestleMania in AT&T Stadium this past April, WWE said its Q2 revenues increased to a quarterly all-time high $199M, with 1.5M WWE Network paid subscribers, 8 billion video views, 570 social media engagements, a major rise in WrestleMania 32-related merchandise, such new shows as Camp WWE and Swerved Season 2, the live launch of SmackDown; and new alliances and a distribution deal in China. MORE
Following the success of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey and the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles last year — and in anticipation of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next year — Seattle has been named as the host city for the 2018 USA Games, with hometown Microsoft already on board as premier partner, ESPN this week signing a deal with Special Olympics to remain as lead broadcast partner (through 2019) and other brands such as Coca-Cola (a Special Olympics founding partner), KPMG and Starbucks also preparing for an event that is anticipating 3,500 athletes, 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers and some 50,000 spectators. MORE
In its first comprehensive national campaign in five years, Russell Athletic has unveiled 'Team On,' a multi-platform effort that embraces the brand's presence in prep football across the country, which will follow the seasons of six high school football teams that lost in their respective state 2015 championships by a TD or less to show how they are using those defeats to motivate players this year, including TV, Internet and social media that will evolve as the prep football season progresses, billboards and the presence of Eddie George, retired four-time NFL Pro Bowl running back, who was part of a Tennessee Titans team that both won (Music City Miracle) and lost (Super Bowl XXXIV) in the same post-season on the final play of the game. MORE
The coming year will see a series of unique sports events with global impact, including the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the NHL-led World Cup of Hockey in October and the NFL's historic Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, which will combine with such factors as more companies moving toward global expansion and finding more opportunities to align with rights' hodlers to raise worldwide sponsorship spend to a projected record $60.2B — the biggest growth in three years and a jump of $9B versus 2012, according to research, marketing and consulting firm IEG, with sponsor spend in North America alone reaching record heights with a 4.5% growth over 2015 to more than $22B. MORE
If you think you are seeing a lot of WWE's John Cena on TV, you would be correct, with appearances over the past months as host for the ESPYs and Fox's American Grit, a role in NBC's Maya and Marty, in a 'We Are America' Ad Council PSA; and upcoming appearances in WWE's Smackdown Live, as co-host for Teen Choice Awards on Fox and, beginning this week, in a humorous multi-media campaign for Hefty in which he touts a new Ultra-Strong product opposite a faux Wimpy brand preferred by actor Rob Schneider — not to mention adding to his status as the celebrity who has granted the most Make-a-Wish requests (more than 500) — approaching all of his work, he says, in the same manner: "With focus, authenticity and total commitment." MORE
Hot on the heels of what might have been its most successful — and most controversial — event, UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta have sold a majority interest in their business to global sports and entertainment group WME|IMG for $4B, a price tag that certainly was raised over the past two years due to the presence of such fighters as Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Frankie Edgar and Ronda Rousey, and which was enhanced this past weekend at UFC 200, during which Brock Lesner made his return to the Octagon, Amanda Nunes took the bantamweight title from Miesha Tate and more than 18K fans saw the event in person in Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena and some 1.5M watched on PPV, with UFC president Dana White, who will remain in that position once the sale is approved and finalized, stating, 'No other sport compares to UFC.' MORE
According to the late sports legend Arnold Palmer, 'What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive,' an observation that has been taken to heart at Topgolf, a sports-entertainment chain that serves in some 30 locations 13M guests — who tee off via hitting bays and virtual courses using microchip-embeded golf balls and relax via food, drink and HDTVs. The Dallas-based company has been on a growth spurt with new destinations in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Sacramento and Portland; an alliance with the PGA Tour and LPGA; and the acquisition of World Golf Tour, which has more than 14M players via Internet and mobile. But as Erik Anderson, co-chairman and CEO, and the main catalyst behind bringing Topgolf from the U.K. to the U.S. in 2005, reveals in this Q&A, even as the tech and entertainment value grows, driving brand awareness and building the game of golf means reaching not just core golfers but also those who have never picked up a club.
In sports, it is not unusual for a team to win games by close margins in the closing seconds, sending players and fans into frenzied celebrations, but Russell Athletic is flipping the narrative in its new 'Team On' campaign by looking at several prep schools that lost their high school state championship in 2015 by a TD or less, some in the final moments, and showing how these teams are using the experience to motivate them in 2016. But as Taylor Vernier, senior director of marketing for Russell Athletic, reveals in this Q&A, the multi-platform effort is not just an intimate look at the inner workings of teams and the relationships between players and coaches, but a redefining of the company's vision, the way it brings products to consumers and the impact it wants to have on youth sports in America.
Buffalo Wild Wings has been the 'official hangout of March Madness' since 2013, but more recently the casual-serve sports-themed restaurant has been serving other options to its customers in more than 900 locations nationwide, including an extensive alliance with UFC leading to the milestone 200 event this July in Las Vegas, a Blazin' Wings promotion with Rob Gronkowski, signing as a marketing partner for Turner Sports' just launched E-League and a B-Dubs Alive Event in which David 'Big Papi' Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox confronted fans of the New York Yankees. But as Bob Ruhland, vp-marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings reveals in this Q&A, the challenge is not just to bring sports and athletes to people but "to find a way to communicate the benefits of your product and do it in a way that will resonate and break through the clutter."
In May, Mission AthleteCare gathered its roster of athlete endorsers, in this case led by Dwayne Wade, Reggie Bush and David Villa, for a multi-layered effort to support the launch of VaporActive, a line of products that uses a version of thermal technology developed by 37.5 to help keep athletes cool and dry; a perfect counterpart to ThermaCool towels and accessories designed to keep athletes cool and wet. But as Josh Shaw, CEO and founder for New York-based Mission AthleteCare reveals in this Q&A, the company's efforts to improve the physical well-being of athletes will be accomplished not only by using modern technology, but by continuing to reinforce among consumers that its brand ambassadors are also involved in the research, development and testing of its products.
In 1926, Buster Keaton starred in The General, Babe Ruth hit 47 homers and had 153 RBI for the Yankees, RCA-GE-Westinghouse formed NBC and The Harlem Globetrotters, then known as the Savoy Five, were introduced to the world. Now celebrating their 90th anniversary, with a history that includes such iconic players as Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Goose Tatum, Marques Haynes and Wilt Chamberlain, they are as entertaining and innovative as ever. But as team president Howard Smith reveals in this Q&A, the challenge is to maintain the team's tradition while introducing new concepts and players and embrace the social media world to keep the Globetrotters on top of the world.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship was formed in 1993 as a pro MMA group and acquired in 2001 by Frank Fertitta III, his brother Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White for $2M, which under the corporate auspices of Zuffa LLC now produces more than 40 live events, runs UFC GYM and is broadcast in more than 129 countries, a growth aided over the past year by the presence of such fighters as Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Conor McGregor and Chris Weidman. But as Garry Cook, former executive with Nike and Manchester City and since 2014 the UFC's chief global brand officer, reveals in this Q&A, the challenge of growing the UFC among core fans while attracting casual and non-endemic fans and marketing partners — the latter of which currently includes Reebok, Anheuser-Busch, Topps and EA Sports — means being authentic, building an interactive and vibrant platform that addresses domestic and global needs and keeping fighters up-close and personal.
The Special Olympics began more than five decades ago under the leadership of Eunice Kennedy Shriver to help level the playing field for people with intellectual disabilities, and in 2016 the movement to break down barriers is still going strong. But as Kirsten Suto Seckler, CMO for Special Olympics, reveals in this Q&A, even after successfully staging the World Games Los Angeles last summer — with athletes, coaches, supporters and fans from around the world — and helping to raise the visibility for the city in its quest to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, the people who work for Special Olympics worldwide and the athletes and people who are impacted by it still face tremendous challenges and hurdles in trying to build the momentum to secure inclusion, respect and value for all.
The Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles this past summer successfully hosted 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, 30,000 volunteers and an estimated 500,000 spectators — organizers definied it as the "single biggest event in L.A. since the 1984 Olympics" — with such partners as AEG, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, ESPN, Mattel, Microsoft, the NFL, P&G, Toyota, Toys R Us, Kate Capshaw & Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney and WWE, all of which played a significant role in the U.S. Olympic Committee's decision to select Los Angeles as the city to bid for the 2024 Summer Games. It was, of course, all about the athletes, who came from around the world to compete in 25 sports. For these and other reasons, Special Olympics has been voted as the GRAND SPORTS MARKETER OF THE YEAR for its work at the World Games and the year-round, on-going dedication of its people to support what ESPN called "the most extraordinary sports stories and athletes you will ever see." FULL STORY HERE