Auto racing is a sport of numbers, and Bob Johnson is the man who drives the numbers that have helped to put Action Express Racing on top of the competition in the IMSA's Tudor United SportsCar Championship, which this season included wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Indy Motor Speedway and Road America plus a four-win sweep at the finale at the Petite Le Mans. But as Johnson, who has spent more than 40 years as a CPA and while at Ernst & Young had such clients as Nascar and the International Speedway Corp. before helping to found AER, reveals in this Q&A, keeping track of finances, repairing budgets and maintaining a balance among driver safety, quality equipment, marketing partners, fans and paying bills is both the challenge and reward to building a successful motorsport team.
With the college football season finding teams nationwide in hot pursuit to become part of the first College Football Playoff, brands and marketers are battling to be front and center with fans, TV viewers and consumers as part of CFB's share in the $4.6B retail market for collegiate products. To that end, IMG College's Collegiate Licensing Company has signed a six-year deal as CFP's licensing agent for the two semi-final and championship games, and CLC and CFP have named 40 companies as official licensees, ranging from adidas, Nike and Under Armour to Fathead, Franklin Mint and Zephyr Graph-X. MORE
The man who was the drummer for arguably the most iconic and influential band in music history, The Beatles, and who has been making music ever since (and is currently on tour with his own group), is taking his sticks and skins to a new gig as spokesman for athletic and lifestyle shoe brand Skechers, where Ringo Starr will star in a multi-media campaign launching in Spring 2015 to include TV, print, Internet, social media and POP to support the Relaxed Fit line, joining a lineup of endorsers that also features Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Pete Rose and Mark Cuban. MORE
Of all the cars that LeBron James can use from his collection of more than 20 to get to Quicken Loans Arena for Cleveland Cavaliers games this season, the Kia K900 is now one of them, with the two-time NBA champion signing an official deal with Kia Motors, which already is an NBA partner, to become a spokesman for the luxury sedan (price-taggged beginning at $60K), thanks in large part to James' post to Instagram over the summer in which he raved about his new ride, as well as James including the auto as part of his current campaign for McDonald's Monopoly. MORE
Already a top tier partner with the IOC via a deal that extends through 2024, Panasonic has now extended its role with the International Paralympic Committee to become a global partner via an alliance that will cover the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio through the 2020 Games in Tokyo, with the electronics company providing a myriad of products and services — including audio and visual equipment, security devices and a variety of disability care products — as well as multi-media marketing and on-site activation. MORE
When the classic baseball song, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" was authored in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, Cracker Jack was just 12 and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade would not hit the streets of New York for 16 years, but all three will finally come together this November as part of Cracker Jack's "The Surprise Inside Project" marketing campaign when the first float in the event for both the brand and parent company PepsiCo is part of the 88th annual celebration, rolling through Manhattan displaying on a 36-foot long, three-story high creation a working scoreboard, live cameras that will show parade-goers on a huge LED screen and ballpark seats, with a fireworks display and musical number culminating the ride in Herald Square. MORE
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos may have gone down big time in Super Bowl XLVIII but they can take some solace in the fact that they, and not the Seattle Seahawks, are the favorite team this season among NFL fans, according to a just-released Harris Poll, which also dropped the Dallas Cowboys from the No. 1 spot after six consecutive years, but Seattle can still smile as the survey gives them the best chance to win Super Bowl XLIX this February ahead of the Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots. MORE
In a case of life imitating art, Diet Mt. Dew has brought a key element of its campaign with Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. from the screen to reality, with the Dale Caller from a popular commercial that broke earlier this year during Super Bowl XLVIII not only making a return appearance in a new spot but also available for sale for all those who, like the guys in the first ad and Earnhardt Jr.'s friend Brad in the new one, seek a little time with the No. 88 driver by summoning him with their own call of the Dale. MORE
NEWS FROM NFL 2014
In 1853, Levi Strauss founded a company that eventually would change the world of fashion forever, giving birth to blue jeans and other clothing that are worn by people at work, play and sporting events — the latter of which ties in perfectly with a 20-year, $220M naming rights deal that Levi's signed for the new $1.2B home venue for the San Francisco 49ers. In this Q&A, Stacy Doren, head of Levi's marketing for the Americas, reveals why the deal happened, how the company is using Levi's Stadium and its alliances with the NFL and 49ers (including a new campaign with Niners TE Vernon Davis, pictured) to grow the brand, the role of technology and social media in reaching fans and consumers and what plans might be in store for such upcoming events as Super Bowl 50 (in 2016) and the NHL Coors Stadium Series (in February).
You may never have insurance agents named Jake, Aaron, Chris, Cliff, Hans or Franz, but for State Farm they are brand spokesmen beyond compare, with Jake taking calls at 3 AM, Aaron Rodgers doing his Discount Double Check routine in the most absurd situations, Chris Paul and faux brother Cliff taking assists to new heights and a bevy of characters from Saturday Night Live — think Super Fans and Hans & Franz — insuring that State Farm has a role in SNL's 40th anniversary. But as State Farm marketing director-brand content Patty Morris reveals in this Q&A, the company walks a fine line when using humor to sell insurance and goes above and beyond its due diligence when signing athletes and celebrities who will represent the company's attitude and attributes.
The NFL, looking to fill its vacant CMO office, has not strayed too far from the family by signing Dawn Hudson, who spent more than a decade with league partner PepsiCo as top marketing executive and then president/CEO for Pepsi-Cola North America, which gave her first-hand experiences in the pros and cons of working with the NFL that will be a put to the test during a volatile time as a result of domestic violence and child abuse cases pulling the league and its partners apart. MORE
NEWS FROM MLB 2014
TBS seeks to be the sultan of swing during its exclusive broadcasts of the American League Wild Card Game (Sept. 30), AL Division Series (beginning Oct. 3) and AL Championship Series, stepping up to the plate with an on-air crew that includes Ernie Johnson, Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Dennis Eckersley, three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez and nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, supported by a marketing campaign starring actor Bryan Cranston humorously re-enacting iconic post-season events (think Carlton Fisk, Kirk Gibson and Derek Jeter) and another heavy-hitter featuring the music of AC/DC. However, as Craig Barry, svp-production and executive creative director for Turner Sports, divulges in this Q&A, the challenge is not just getting core baseball fans to tune in but also employing tactics that attract casual fans, keep the core audience engaged and utilize social media to drive interest, ratings and marketing dollars.
Although he last played a MLB game in 2001, Cal Ripken Jr. is very much a part of the baseball landscape as president and CEO for Ripken Baseball, owner of MiLB's Aberdeen IronBirds, in campaigns for such brands as Kellogg's and Under Armour and, since 2007, as an analyst and commentator for Turner Sports' coverage of MLB. With this year's post-season fast approaching, Ripken will get national air time alongside Ernie Johnson and Ron Darling as part of TBS' exclusive AL playoff broadcasts. But first, the Hall of Famer who played in a record 2,632 consecutive games shares his thoughts in this Q&A on the challenges MLB faces in attracting new fans, the pitfalls players need to avoid on social media, the ups and downs of being a marketing spokesman and a plan of attack for his friend Derek Jeter after Jeter hangs up his New York Yankees uniform for the last time.
NEWS FROM NBA 2014-15
It will be same Bat-time, same Bat-channels for the next 11 years if you want to watch the NBA on TV or via the Internet, digital, mobile and other platforms as the league, under first-year commissioner Adam Silver, has signed new $24B pacts with Disney's ESPN and ABC and Time Warner-Turner's TNT, continuing alliances that track back to the 1960s for the former and the 1970s for the latter that now extend through the 2024-25 campaign and will also drive growth among a plethora of destinations at which the NBA, it's media partners, marketers, fans and consumers intersect. MORE
With MLB post-season in full swing, the NFL in over-drive, Nascar running its Chase for the Sprint Cup eliminations and the NHL iced up and skating, the NBA has unveiled a multi-platform marketing campaign "Everybody Up!", with an intro spot, "Roll Call," that is jammed with a bevy and current stars, coaches, fans, dancers, mascots, Grammy-winning musician Common and social media images, all intended to let people know that the 2014-15 season is on its way. MORE
As part of a new campaign from McDonald's, a commercial heralds the return of a star and shows fans in Cleveland cheering for his arrival, but it turns out that the focus of all the attention is not LeBron James, who is back with the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers after four seasons with the Miami Heat, but rather Mr. Moneybags, the iconic figure from Hasbro's Monopoly, who is getting the hero's treatment because he is offering people the opportunity to win such prizes as cash, cameras, a shopping spree in Target and, oh, yeah, "one-on-one experiences" with James or fellow athletes Patrick Kane (NHL), Jamie McMurray (Nascar) and Alex Morgan (soccer). MORE
NEWS FROM NHL 2014-15
The NHL has added Procter & Gamble to its roster of marketing partners, with global consumer goods giant putting its division in Canada front and center to bring its oral care division to fans, including a multi-platform campaign for such products as Crest, Oral-B, Scope and Fixodent to run throughout the season and league veteran Martin St. Louis and his wife Heather being signed to support the launch of and marketing efforts behind Crest Sensi-Relief. MORE
NEWS FROM BostonSportsJournalism.com
General Motors brand Buick has signed on as the title sponsor for the upcoming friendly match between two iconic soccer clubs, Liverpool and AS Roma, and the automaker intends to keeps its recent upswing in sales and consumer profile high via 'Buick Football At Fenway' on JUly 23, an event that will air on NBC Sports and is being conducted under the auspices of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool, the latter of which also includes minority interest owner LeBron James, who just might make an appearance at the game due to his alliance with FSG and its marketing arm, Fenway Sports Management. MORE
NEWS FROM SanFranciscoJournalism.com
The NHL will stage an outdoor game in California for the second consecutive season when the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series hits Levi's Stadium, the new $1.2B home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, in February, with the nearby San Jose Sharks hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, but there will be several firsts, with this being the first outdoor game in Northern California, the first outdoor game for the Sharks and also the first NHL outdoor game to be played in a venue that will host the Super Bowl (historic Super Bowl 50, scheduled for February 2016). MORE
NEWS FROM LosAngelesJournalism.com
Declaring that "This is still Lakers Town," new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott showed that, although he has not been with the team since 1997, he still bleeds purple and gold when, during his introductory press conference on July 29, he declared that it was the Lakers, not the Clippers, that ruled the town and that "a ton of great players want to be here," which had to sound good to former players Magic Johnson and Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, current players such as Kobe Bryant, ownership, fans and marketing partners including Coke, Nike, AmEx, Staples, Toyota and Verizon, all of whom endured last season the team's worst showing in a decade and still face the potential of several rebuilding years to come. MORE
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The four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP can now add MVP of the Power 100 MVPindex to his resume as LeBron James landed atop a ranking of the "world's most powerful athletes in the U.S." based 50% on on-field attributes and 50% on social media strength, with a Top Five that also included Russell Wilson, Kevin Durant, Rory McIlroy and Mike Trout, but it was the NFL that proved to be the most powerful league, placing 30 players in the Top 100, ahead of the NBA (21), MLB (15), tennis (13), Nascar (9), golf (7) and the NHL (5), according to the MVPindex team of Stout Partners, Horrow Ventures and Bloomberg Sports. MORE
Thanks to Heineken, Major League Soccer will no longer be drinking brews with its Bud, the Anheuser-Busch brand that is out as an official league partner — a position it held since 1995 — as the German import takes over beginning in 2015 via a five-year deal valued at upward of $40M, part of Heineken's strategy to use soccer to reach fans and consumers in the U.S. and to "challenge Americans to chase new experiences and open their world." MORE
The public is used to seeing Michael Phelps in deep water, but the setting is far more imperative than winning gold, as the 22-time Olympic medal winner (including 18 gold medals), just days after being arrested in his hometown Baltimore for DUI, said he would "take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself," with his marketing firm, Octagon, adding that Phelps would enter a six-week program where he can "identify areas of need for long-term personal growth and development." MORE
A search that had been eight years in the making finally came to fruition with the signing of global health care firm Abbott as the first title sponsor for the World Marathon Majors, a joint effort launched in 2006 that encompasses six of the top competitions around the globe — the Boston Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the TCS New York Marathon — effective in 2015, with Abbott preparing to support via a new campaign, "Life. To The Fullest," that will include multi-media ads, on-site activation and signage and an effort driven by the firm's employees. MORE
Allstate has taken a hands-on approach to using college sports as a platform to get its insurance message out and to reach a young demographic, including naming rights to the Allstate Sugar Bowl (which this year is part of the new CFB Playoffs), a corporate partnership with the NCAA, the 'Good Hands Field Goal Nets' activation with 81 universities now in its tenth year and presenting sponsor for the Football Writers college coach of the year award and the Football Coaches Good Works Team (in addition to an official partnership with MLS and the U.S. National Soccer Team). But as Pam Hollander, vp-marketing for Allstate, reveals in this Q&A, there is a significant challenge in getting their messages to resonate with people in a sports category loaded with insurance company rivals and there is a fine line that must be walked when using humor — perhaps best epitomized by Allstate's 'Mayhem' campaign — while remaining serious about selling insurance.
Back in December, a student held up a sign on ESPN asking his mom for financial help, not in dollars but in digital bitcoins (he received $23K worth into his account from various benefactors), a ploy that inspired bitcoin processing firm BitPay to move ahead with a strategy to align with sports and entertainment to reach a target demo of young, tech-savvy consumers. That tactic has since led to official partnerships with the NBA's Sacramento Kings and the athletic department in Georgia Tech, handling the account for rapper 50 Cent's new album and a naming rights deal with ESPN for the post-season college football game now known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. But as BitPay vp-marketing Stephanie Wargo explains in this Q&A, although the notion of paying with bitcoin is expanding, getting mainstream businesses and consumers to understand and use bitcoin is as difficult and challenging as the early days of the Internet.
Following several meetings with representatives from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC, U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst said that although there still remains a lot of work and planning, he is 'more optimistic than ever that a U.S. bid for the 2024 Summer Games can be successful,' putting the nation's overseeing body for the Games closer to the point where it could move ahead with a bid in early 2015 and giving sponsors and supporters of the USOC hope that the Olympics could return to domestic soil for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. MORE
Calling it an 'historic agreement,' Nascar unveiled a ten-year deal with Comcast's Xfinity to take over as title sponsor for the Nationwide Series beginning in 2015, valued at $200M by industry analysts, which makes the high-speed video and Internet provider just the third company to hold that position in 26 years (Anheuser-Busch), with the pact giving Xfinity official partner status in the multi-channel video programming distributor and broadband ISP categories and enabling both Comcast and Xfinity to gain broader access to what Nascar called a 'large, highly engaged technology-connected TV audience.' MORE
There are 190 million fans of college sports and many of them love to spend money to support their team, this past season to the tune of $4.59B on univeristy-licensed merchandise, according to CLC, the college licensing division of IMG College (which represents 200 schools nationwide), with the Texas Longhorns leading the way for the 9th consecutive year, Florida State having jumped up from No. 21 to No. 8 due to its BCS success, Nike leading the apparel category (as it has every season since 1999 except for two) and EA Sports again topping the non-apparel category. MORE
Cancer is an aggressive disease that impacts mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and co-workers. The best way to beat it: Be even more aggressive in finding a cure. That is the heart of the strategy that drives STAND UP TO CANCER, which along with key partners MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and MASTERCARD used in 2013 multi-media marketing and platforms that reached consumers and corporations to support an overarching plan of empowerment to get funds directly to doctors, scientists and hospitals to hasten research to end cancer. MORE