Despite the diversity of goals, strategies and achievements this year's Top Ten Sports Marketers of the Year encompass, they have one thing in common: They took the challenge to become the best, and settled for nothing less. They come from all areas of the sports, sports marketing and sports business landscape; touched consumers, fans, viewers, athletes, marketing and media partners, and investors; and left their respective marks during 2014. Now, it is time for the public to vote for the Grand Sports Marketer of the Year from among these ten powerful candidates (in alphabetical order): ALS Association, BBDO Worldwide, BitPay, Daily Fantasy Sports (category), Epix, Foot Locker, LeBron James, Levi Strauss & Co., Under Armour and Upper Deck. MORE
State Farm appropriately chose the NBA's slate of five Dec. 25 games on ESPN, ABC and TNT to unwrap the newest members of its Starting Five team under the "Born to Assist" umbrella, bringing in to join Chris Paul (and his faux twin Cliff) and Stephen Curry (and "twin" Sebastian) NBA all-time assist leader John Stockton (and "brother Don"), WNBA star Sue Bird (and "sister" Summer) and Damian Lillard (and "brother" Darius), who all are part of the National Bureau of Assists and also star in two new spots that will continue the storyline throughout the NBA season, All-Star Game and playoffs. MORE
The most storied franchise in the history of Japanese baseball has signed a multi-year deal with Under Armour, which is the latest major alliance in what the Baltimore-based sports apparel and footwear brand's CEO, Kevin Plank, has called "our global ambition" to expand its presence worldwide, adding the Yomiuri Giants to an international roster that includes Tottenham Hotspur, Rugby Canada, Welsh Rugby Union, Colo-Colo and Toluca, as well as retail presence that has launched over the past year in Brazil, Chile, Panama, the Philippines, Singapore and Shanghai. MORE
Tiger Woods has been off the PGA Tour for much of 2014 and has not won a Major since 2008, but his status as a golf personality and endorser still has a resounding effect worldwide, which is part of the reason why golf sponsorships worldwide in 2014 will top $1.6B, more than the NFL, MLB, NBA and tennis — with such companies as BMW, Bank of America, MasterCard and Coca-Cola leading the way — but failed to reach expectations, according to a new report from IEG Research, which is a reflection of people leaving the sport and many more golf courses opening than closing for the eighth consecutive year. MORE
The Peacock network not only wants you to watch its broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, it wants to send two people to the Big Game in the University of Phoenix Stadium via a Fan Challenge, which is anchored by Twitter and Instagram elements along with Sunday Night Football telecasts that test the trivia skills of NFL fans and others and offers weekly prizes such as Bose headphones, EA Sports Madden NFL 15 and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, with a grand prize of a trip to Arizona on NBC Sports' tab. MORE
Auto companies move over — another mode of transportation is coming to Super Bowl XLIX in the form of Carnival Cruise Line, which will air the first Super Bowl spot in its history as part of parent Carnival Corp.'s umbrella campaign, "The World's Leading Cruise Lines," with the public being asked to select from among four potential commercials the 60-second one to run on NBC on Feb. 1, with those who participate being entered into a sweepstakes fronted by Cedrick the Entertainer for a chance to win a yearly cruise for life. MORE
With Super Bowl XLIX about six weeks off, marketers who have paid upward of $4.5M to air spots on NBC on Feb.1 have questions regarding the habits of viewers, including how many will be watching and remembering the commercials, how many are willing to turn viewing into spending and via what devices in addition to TV will they be using. Some of the answers might be provided in a new survey from marketing solutions firm YuMe, which found that while TV is still the No. 1 option for the Big Game, more people than ever would be using multiple devices, a strong number not only watch but recall ads and that interacting with friends via smartphones and other platforms — and taking and sending selfies — is vital to the Super Sunday experience. MORE
NEWS FROM NFL 2014
Having confirmed that pop star Katy Perry will headline the halftime show during Super Bowl XLIX this February in Arizona, soda pop company Pepsi is planning an all-out 'Hyped For Halftime' marketing and promotional blitz leading up to and then during the Big Game — with Perry herself starring in an intro spot and reaching out to her millions of fans worldwide — while parent company PepsiCo is also preparing activation for several of its brands, including Gatorade, Tropicana and Doritos, the latter of which already is well into its 'Crash the Super Bowl' consumer-driven strategy. MORE
After officially naming Katy Perry as the featured artist and launching a campaign to support "Hype the Halftime," Pepsi has unveiled the next leg of its marketing effort, this time starring country music singer Blake Shelton and a "Hype Your Hometown" promotion that includes tickets to Super Bowl XLIX in February and veterans of the Armed Forces and their families who attended a Shelton concert aboard the decommissioned USS Lexington, with footage an integral part of a premier TV spot. MORE
While NFL teams are vying on the field for playoff spots and a berth in Super Bowl XLIX, league partner DirecTV is working to fill the roster for its Super Bowl Fan Festival the week before the Big Game, with brands and companies such as Pepsi, Bud Light, Food Network and StubHub planning on-site activations and musicians including Snoop Dogg, Imagine Dragons, Calvin Harris and the Zac Brown Band lined up for concerts, with multi-platform marketing support coming from the communications company (although no word if Rob Lowe and his creepy counterparts will make an appearance). MORE
NEWS FROM NBA 2014-15
To help usher in the 2014-15 season, Turner Sports has unveiled a multi-platform campaign under the umbrella theme, 'Home,' which initially supports the NBA on TNT on Thursdays and Inside the NBA but will lead into elements encompassing the All-Star Weekend this February in New York and TNT's coverage of the post-season. However, as Matthew Hong, evp/GM of Turner Sports, reveals in this Q&A, even though there already are such high-profile story lines as LeBron James returning home to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony staying home in New York, Kevin Durant recovering from recent surgery and Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant back from last year's season-ending surgeries, the challenge is to use all of the assets available to Turner to not only keep core NBA fans interested and excited but to also reach casual and non-NBA fans.
Worldwide financial firm BBVA is getting solid returns as an official partner with the NBA, so much so that BBVA Compass will continue as the league's banking partner — as well as with the WNBA and D-League — as part of an extension to a deal signed in 2010, which comes with new marketing featuring NBA stars Kevin Durant and James Harden, alliances with several NBA teams and players in local markets, activation around the All-Star Game in New York this February, support of the NBA Global Games and continued efforts with NBA Cares to grow the BBVA Compass Future Builders Program targeting students nationwide. MORE
NEWS FROM NHL 2014-15
Despite four lockouts since 1991 and coming precariously close to losing its status as one of the four major pro sports in North America, the NHL said it is strong, getting stronger and experiencing growth among fans, marketers and media equal to or better than at any time in its history, with COO John Collins pointing to such events as the Bridgestone Winter Classic, the Coors Light Stadium Series, All-Star Weekend and media deals with NBC Sports and Rogers Communications that have given fans unprecedented access to the league and presented marketing partners with an array of platforms to grow their brands, their alliances with the NHL and the sport of hockey. MORE
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
With the annual Bridgestone Winter Classic coming Jan. 1 and the Coors Light Stadium Series following Feb. 15, the NHL is ramping up marketing efforts for its crown-jewel events, anchored by a campaign including TV, print, outdoor and Internet and a multi-media push to support two four-part reality-documentary series for the Classic and Series games, respectively, airing on cable network Epix and also being made available to fans and consumers at both the NHL's and Epix' Web sites, on Facebook and via apps, all in an effort to reach what the league said is 60 million fans. MORE
NEWS FROM March Madness 2015
The 2015 Final Four is still months away, but the NCAA has jump-started March Madness for the next seven seasons, returning to some venues and naming some new ones to host the NCAA Div. I Men's Basketball semi-final and finals games, with Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Indianapolis all laying claim to bragging rights, national spotlights and monetary highlights — with host cities claiming $70-$200M in March Madness revenue — through 2021. 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
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).
NEWS FROM LosAngelesJournalism.com
Three-time Cy Young winner and NL MVP Clayton Kershaw has added another accolade to his resume, signing with Subway as a Famous Fan endorser on a roster that includes AL MVP Mike Trout, with both men appearing in a print ad that touts their awards and favorite sandwiches (Turkey & Swiss and Spicy Italian, respectively), and Kershaw also getting congratulatory nods from other companies on his marketing team, such as Under Armour, Muscle Milk and Wilson; while his own non-profit group, Kershaw's Challenge, unveiled an MVP 14 T-shirt with proceeds going to support underprivileged kids around the world. Analysts say Kershaw, who earns about $3M in endorsements, could easliy double that during the off-season. MORE
MORE NEWS ...
Following years of indecision, internal politics and conflict with the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee has decided to move ahead with the process to submit a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, with the host city to be chosen from among Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC — which sent high-profile delegations to meet with USOC executives to show how each respective site could meet financial, transportation and other logistical needs and still aim to make money — to be named next year prior to the IOC's deadline of September 2015, which will then put the U.S. on an arduous road to bring the competition involving nations and athletes from around the world to American soil for the first time in the summer since 1996 (Atlanta) and the first time overall since 2002 (Winter Games in Salt Lake City). MORE
Table tennis is not just an activity played in basements, rec halls and retirement homes, it is an Olympic sport enjoyed by more than 17M people in the U.S. alone — including NL Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw and NBA stars Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki — and one that has been featured in such recent ad campaigns as Bud Light's 'Up For Whatever' with Arnold Schwarzenegger, DirecTV's effort with Rob Lowe and Apple iPhone with Venus and Serena Williams. But there is a significant cause marketing platform involving Pong-Pong led by TopSpin, under the auspices of Peter Farnsworth, former NBA veteran marketing executive and current CEO for brand and marketing firm FoxRocks, who reveals in this Q&A how the business and sports communities come together to not just play the game but to support TopSpin's efforts to aid the education and sports programs among disadvantaged communities, with the next event in New York on Dec. 10.
This Saturday, Nov. 1, 61,500 people will fill a sold-out Soldier Field in Chicago, not to see the NFL's Bears but the U.S. National Rugby Team (aka the Eagles) take on the iconic New Zealand National Rugby Team (aka the All Blacks), airing live on NBC Sports Network and presented by global insurance firm AIG, along with a roster of marketing partners including Gatorade, DHL and Emirates Airline. But as Daniel Glantz, global head of sponsorship for AIG, relates in this Q&A, even though sponsors are becoming more involved and it will be part of the 2016 Summer Olympics, getting people in the U.S. to embrace rugby has been a challenge as much for its foreign rules and quirks as for the appearance that it incurs more injuries than NFL games.
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
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.
With a new naming rights deal for college football's Citrus Bowl in place, a deal as an official partner with the NCAA about to enter its third season and interactive platforms such as GameBreak in place, Buffalo Wild Wings is in a great position to support and enhance its motto, 'Wings. Beer. Sports.' But as Bob Ruhland, vp-marketing for the casual dining chain affectionately known as B-Dubs, explains in this Q&A, in a category filled with restaurants using a bevy of messages to attract sports fans, Buffalo Wild Wings works hard to differentiate itself by keeping its customers connected to each other and their favorite teams, building genuine relationships with sports organizations and destinations and providing people with plenty of good food and fun.
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
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