In 1992, the De La Salle football team started a winning streak that grew from modest to profound to historical. Under the guidance of head coach Bob Ladouceur, the Spartans did not lose again until 2004, 151 games later. In 2003, Neil Hayes' book on the team and the people involved was published. In 2009, producer David Zelon read the book and saw its potential as a movie. But it took four years for the project to get fast-tracked, and on Aug. 22, When the Game Stands Tall, finally hits theaters nationwide. As Zelon — whose resume at Mandalay Pictures also includes Soul Surfer, Into the Blue and Never Back Down — reveals in this Q&A, the movie is not so much about the winning streak as about the faith, bonding, relationships and maturation process that the players, coach Ladouceur, friends and family underwent while experiencing success, failure and personal crisis and challenges both on and off the field.
Players may not smell too good after a game, but a growing number of NFL stars have found a way to raise their aromas to new heights and also enhance their endorsement portfolios: Hug Boss Parfums, the official fragrance of the NFL, has unveiled a campaign, "Success Beyond the Game," that features Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware and Victor Cruz, who each tout a different scent while displaying their achievements off the field; and L'Oreal USA's Drakkar has enlisted Cam Newton for a multi-media push, "Show Your Power," which encourages people to mimic the QB's Superman pose in part to help support the Cam Newton Foundation for underprivileged youth. MORE
For many people, this is back to school season, but for many others it's Madden Season, with Madden NFL 15 hitting stores on Aug. 26 to seek its place in the $15B gaming category, anticipated by a multi-level marketing push from EA Sports anchored via an extended vid-ad filled with non-sequitur images and populated by the likes of actors Kevin Hart, NBA All-Star Damien Lillard and NFL players including video game cover athlete Richard Sherman, Colin Kaepernick, LeShean McCoy, Dez Bryant, Eddie Lacy and Von Miller, as well as an international Madded cheerleading squad, a mascot that rises from the water and a rap song that could be the most Blahty-Blahty-Blah hit of the moment. MORE
During a boxing career that spanned 20 years, Vinny Pazienza, aka The Pazmanian Devil, compiled a 50-10 record (including 30 KOs) and won numerous titles, but a car accident in 1991 broke his neck had a life-altering affect after it seemed as if he would never walk, let alone box, again. Paz teamed with trainer Kevin Rooney to make a comeback and fight for another decade, but he had just two fights after 2001 and lately has been out of the spotlight, until this summer when a movie based on his life, under the auspices of executive producer Martin Scorsese, began filming, which in turn led Paz to star in a marketing campaign for Wocket, in which he will offer up the benefits for the next-gen smart wallet. MORE
Some 41 million people in the U.S. and Canada participate in fantasy sports platforms generating $2B in league and transaction fees alone, with 70% of that coming from fantasy football, stats that moved DirecTV to launch a Fantasy Zone channel and have its two lead NFL spokesmen, Peyton and Eli Manning, front a campaign anchored by the MTV-styled video-ad, "Fantasy Football Fantasy,' in which they rap with and about cheerleaders, cars, their dad Archie in a spacesuit, Joe Namath, linemen from Peyton's Denver Broncos, food, flying horses and, of course, 'A fantasy channel that's so new/It's the best thing that ever happened to you!' MORE
Hendrick Motorsports is getting a new lead sponsor as 3M, already an official partner with Nascar since 1995, has signed a three-year deal to move from Roush Fenway and Greg Biffle beginning with the 2015 season, which includes being primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon and his No. 24 Chevrolet for 11 Sprint Cup races and an associate-level partner in all other events, with 3M using the muscle of all five of its business units to support consumer promotions, product launches and B2B opportunities. MORE
Since 1977, Kiss has licensed products in some 3,000 categories that have accounted for more than $1B in total retail sales, but the iconic rock group has now found another field of merchandise dreams, signing with MLB to produce a line of T-shirts with a logo inspired by the 1975 release, Dressed to Kill, to be followed by apparel that will harken back to the classic song, "Detroit Rock City," all thanks to the fact that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley call themselves "die-hard fans of Major League Baseball." MORE
Even as he struggles to get his golf game back on the course, Tiger Woods, who saw his deal with EA end last October, has connected with his game in the mobile and Internet platforms via a deal with Zynga that will see the launch of titles beginning in 2015 intended to reach golf enthusiasts and gamers alike as part of a new Sports 365 division, which also includes football titles in association with the NFL and NFL Players Inc., coming at a time that the San Francisco-based company, like Woods himself, intends to find a reversal of misfortune. MORE
NEWS FROM NFL 2014
The NFL begins its 95th season in earnest on Sept. 4 when the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers, and a plethora of league marketing partners — including Microsoft, Verizon, GMC, Bridgestone, Bud Light, Lenovo, Snickers, Pepsi and Visa — and entertainers are in place for NFL Kickoff Presented By Xbox, which will air on NBC's Football Night in America and get musical support from the likes of Pharrell Williams, Soundgarden and Ariana Grande, who is scheduled to sing the National Anthem (no word if Iggy Azalea would make a guest appearance). MORE
Even as he works to earn a spot on the Cleveland Browns' roster, NFL rookie QB Johnny Manziel is making news both on and off the field, the latest a multi-year deal with MusclePharm, the performance-lifestyle sports nutrition company that recently signed Tiger Woods to an endorsement agreement, with "Johnny Football" scheduled to appear in marketing, promotions and other activations, and with MusclePharm now part of a Manziel brand team that includes Nike, McDonald's, Snickers and Panini. MORE
Entering its second season as an official NFL partner, Microsoft is unveiling a multi-platform strategy intended to expand and enhance its alliance with the league and its fans, including Surface 2 tablets on sidelines during games for players and coaches to review action, Xbox activations to boost in-game and fantasy experiences, an "on-the-go" option for the Microsoft NFL app for Xbox, a centralized gathering of content from such sources as NFL Network and NFL Now, presenting sponsorship of NFL Kickoff on Sept. 4 and a multi-media marketing push to support the entire effort. MORE
NEWS FROM MLB 2014
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
On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig — the first baseman for the New York Yankees known as "The Iron Horse" — stood at home plate in Yankee Stadium and gave a speech in which he called himself "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,' this despite the fact that he was suffering from ALS, a disease that would claim his life, at age 37, but would also give the affliction a name that draws attention and funds, albeit still too little for a cure. This week, MLB along with ALS Association and other groups working to find a cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease, are bringing the fight to MLB stadiums and fans with a national push that includes a PSA featuring Yankees captain Derek Jeter and first basemen from each of baseball's 30 teams, who recite the speech interspersed with historic footage of Gehrig from that day 75 years ago. MORE
NEWS FROM U.S. Open
Looking to add to an already record-setting number of people who travel to the area, Visit Orlando has signed a global alliance with the U.S. Tennis Assn. that includes status as the exclusive worldwide tourism partner with the grand slam U.S. Open in New York this August, which will see multi-media activation intended to also support the state's Visit Florida group as well as the 100-plus tennis court facility the USTA is building in the Orlando area. 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
MORE NEWS ...
When LeBron James recently declared that he would be leaving the NBA's Miami Heat and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was hailed as a favorite among fans, media and the general public for his loyalty to family, friends and his hometown roots. But it turns out that James already was the favorite male athlete in the U.S., according to a new study from The Harris Poll, which has James ahead of Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. MORE
Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest Olympic athlete of all time, has worn Speedos since he was 16, but that 12-year endorsement deal, which expired at the end of 2013, has been replaced by a fervent one with Aqua Sphere, where Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, will help to design a brand of competitive swimsuits and products, work on and appear in marketing and promotional efforts and continue to share the virtues of swimming to get more kids and adults into the sport, all as the man with 18 gold medals trains for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team with the goal of competing in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. MORE
With a goal of making its women's business equal to or larger than its men's lines, Under Armour has launched what the brand is calling its biggest global marketing push for women, under the umbrella 'Womanifesto' tag line, "I Will What I Want," and endorsers such as Lindsey Vonn, Misty Copeland, Kelly O'Hara, Sloane Stephens and Brianna Cope all on board for a campaign that includes TV, print, Internet, social media and mobile. MORE
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
The Topps Co. is a prime example of a business that has reinvented itself, maintaining ties to its heritage and core consumers while building a new and younger consumer base by integrating social media, digital, apps, advanced analytics and other platforms to enhance the category for today and the future. However, as Zvee Geffen, Topps brand manager for Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the English Premier League, explains in this Q&A, the company is constantly looking for ways to keep traditional collectors happy, develop products that appeal to the next generation of fans, provide statistics that inform but not overload and merge historically successful items such as cards and memorabilia with the world of virtual collectables.
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