Maria Sharapova has returned to the tennis court, winning her first match at the Porsche Grand Prix in Germany after serving a 15-month suspension for using a banned drug, and although she called the moment 'the best feeling in the world' and is getting support from marketing partners including Porsche, Nike, Evian and Avon, the 30-year-old former No. 1 is still facing hurdles on many fronts, including tennis players such as Roberta Vinci (whom Sharapova defeated in straight sets), Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, who feel she should not be given wild card entries into tournaments; and the French Tennis Federation, which said that she must wait until May 16, just days before the French Open, to learn how and if she would be allowed to play in the Grand Slam competition. 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
As the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins this week, a full roster of NHL partners have hit the ice with a plethora of marketing efforts on TV, Internet, social media, POP and other fan and consumer activation in the U.S. and Canada, including Geico, Gatorade, Enterprise, Pepsi, Bridgestone, Reese's, SAP, ScotiaBank, Honda, first-year league partners PPG Paints and Sonnet Insurance and the NHL itself, with creative featuring such players as Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, icon Martin Brodeur and even the Keeper of the Cup, Phil Pritchard. MORE
With LA 2024 working hard to bring the Summer Games to the U.S. and with the future of the environment being put in dire straits by decisions being made by the current administration, there might be more emphasis on maintaining, supporting and protecting the great outdoors than ever, one key reason why people went on 11 billion outings last year, spent $887B and help to support 7.6M jobs, according to a new study from the Outdoor Industry Assn., which covers such activities as hiking, boating, fishing, camping, skateboarding, horseback riding, off-road motorcyling and motorbiking, scuba diving, sailing and wildlife viewing. MORE
This week, more than 250 players will begin their pro football life when they are drafted by an NFL team, just as Shawne Merriman did in 2005 when he was selected by the Chargers No. 12 overall, a move that led to Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and three-consecutive Pro Bowls when he led the league with 39.5 sacks. But a serious knee injury and other issues cut his career short and turned Merriman's attention to another desire: Creating a sports apparel company based on his nickname, Lights Out. Merriman has made Lights Out a thriving business, and he also is an owner in Nascar, a spokesman for and in-training with Bellator MMA and on the roster of MTV's new reality competition, The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros. But as the 32-year-old ex-linebacker shares in this Q&A, life after football has been filled with challenges and obstacles, all of which have made the victories that much more rewarding.
The NBA 2k eSports League, unveiled in February with a launch scheduled for 2018, now has a top executive, Brendan Donohue, the NBA's svp-team marketing and business operations, who has been assigned to 'ramp up this venture in record time,' with immediate goals being to determine which NBA teams will be participating, oversee the process to select a squad of gamers for each franchise and jump-start the competition. 'The league will have all the structure and polish of the NBA coupled with the thrills and engagement of our NBA 2K franchise,' said Strauss Zelnick, CEO for 2K parent company Take-Two. MORE
Since its inception in 2009, Mission has been known as a performance apparel and accessories brand driven by its endorsement roster of athletes who score in sports, but now the brand is moving into Hollywood territory by signing actress/singer Hailee Steinfeld, who will take her on-screen talent (True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2/3, The Edge of Seventeen) and music skills ('Starving,' 'Love Myself') into the retail and marketing categories to help Mission spread the word to a younger, more style-focused demographic about its new women's activewear line. MORE
Even as the NBA and NHL playoffs heat up and the NFL Draft looms large this week, the WTA is making news on several fronts, listing Serena Williams back as No. 1 in the world and anticipating the return of Maria Sharapova after a 15-month suspension due to the use of a banned drug, with Williams not playing but Sharapova expected to take the court at the Porsche Grand Prix in Germany in an opening-round match on April 26 against Roberta Vinci; all happening even as the WTA is unveiling a revamped and more dynamic Web site that the organization said would be part of a larger enhancement of its social media and WTA Network. 'This is instrumental in building the businesses,' Micky Lawler, WTA president, said of the new offerings. MORE
After winning your first World Series since 1908, anything is possible, which is what the Chicago Cubs are saying now that they not only have title rings, but the title of best-selling jerseys, with four of the top five spots held by members of the team — led by Kris Bryant at No. 1 (a position he has held since 2015), Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez and Kyle Schwarber — according to MLB and MLBPA, based of sales at MLBShop.com between the the end of October and Opening Day in April, with only Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers able to break into the Top Five. MORE
If you want to add some more noise to an already loud boxing match you should put Sylvester 'Rocky' Stallone into the fray, which is exactly what Tecate has done in a new creative under its 'Be Bold' campaign to support the upcoming Canelo Alverez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout (scheduled for May 6 in Las Vegas), in which Sly shows Canelo how to punch a bee hive, use raw meat to reduce a swollen eye and the best way to display a championship belt, and Canelo gets bolder by taking an ice bath and grilling steak. According to one of the tag lines, 'Be Bold. Be Bolder. Be Sly. Be Canelo.' MORE
The American Cancer Society was named as the Grand Marketer of the Year through a vote by the readers of NYSportsJournalism, based on activations with many impactful partners that raised money and drove awareness for one goal: to find a cure for cancer. In this Q&A, Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for ACS (and former veteran marketing executive for Coca-Cola), and David Doan, ACS's vp-sports alliances, share the advantages of being able to work with such organizations as the National Association of Basketball Coaches, IMG College and Princess Lacey's Legacy; activating during such high-profile events as the NCAA College Football Playoffs, March Madness and the Final Four; and having hundreds of college and high school coaches be part of Coaches vs. Cancer; but also the challenges of having the mechanics and logistics in place to run the 24/7 year-round fund-raising efforts needed to support the work of countless thousands of people seeking to put an end the disease.
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NEWS FROM NFL 2016
Jon Gruden has been up-close and personal with QBs for nearly 20 years, including 11 as a NFL head coach and eight with ESPN's Gruden QB Camp, and he has words of advice for executives and coaches in the NFL Draft on April 27: Even teams with solid QBs such as the Saints, Giants and Cardinals should look at the incoming group of signal-callers and plan for the future, making such athletes as Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Mitch Trubisky, Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer their heir apparent. 'Three or four QBs will be selected in the first round (so) wouldn't it be wonderful to get one of these guys, put him in your program now and watch him develop,' said Gruden. MORE
Romo, oh, Romo. Where forth art thou? He may have played for 14 seasons at quarterback in the NFL, but Tony Romo is a rookie again as he plans to join CBS Sports as lead analyst for the network's Sunday NFL on CBS and Thursday Night Football broadcasts beginning in 2017, replacing long-time analyst and former NFL QB Phil Simms and leaving behind a pro career with the Dallas Cowboys during which he passed for more than 34K yards, threw 248 TD passes and made the Pro Bow four times, but was plagued by various injuries and fell to No. 2 on the depth chart last season behind rookie phenom Dak Prescott. 'It's going to be a great challenge,' said Romo. 'If I don't do a good job, I'll spend 20 hours a day in the film room to get better.' MORE
Although TV ratings may have been down, issues of health and player safety at the forefront and franchise relocation a focal point, sponsors and marketing partners still saw a bevy of reasons to put their money into the NFL to the tune of $1.25B this past season — up 4.3% over 2015 but behind the 4.7% increase in overall sports spending, according to research firm IEG — led by the beer and auto categories and driven by activity from insurance and QSR, with the Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots among nine teams that recorded sponsorship deals above the league average. MORE
In sports and entertainment laden New York, the Mets have been working hard to make their home venue a buzzwothy destination, including restaurants and concession stands that feature lots of local goodies — Shake Shack, Papa Rosso, Two Boots, Mama's of Corona, Mister Softee and Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, to name a few — the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, out-of-the-box promotions and touchpoints throughout Citi Field that are unique in MLB and sports. As Lou DePaoli, evp and chief revenue officer for the team, relates in this Q&A, everything is done using a fan-first strategy, with food, activations and players all directed to keeping the people who pass through the gates coming back for more. And as Patrick Schaeffer, senior executive chef for Aramark, which oversees food, beverage and merchandise services in Citi Field and works with the likes of such top culinary masters as Michael White, John Capon and Pat LaFrieda, offers, 'We want everyone from adults to kids to come here and eat, be entertained and tell others about it.'
With baseball in full swing and the NFL coming off a campaign that saw overall viewing and ratings numbers take a hit, many people were asking, 'Can baseball reclaim its spot as the favorite sport among fans?' According to the recently released 25th annual Brand Keys Sports Loyalty Index, that has happened, with people ranking MLB No. 1 and the NFL dropping to No. 3 behind the NBA. In this Q&A, Robert Passikoff, founder and president for Brand Keys, reveals how the Chicago Cubs played a key role in moving baseball back to the top spot it last held a decade ago, how MLB is building loyalty between players and fans in ways that the NFL can not, how attitudes among fans have changed over the past quarter century and why baseball may remain No. 1 for years to come.
Stating that 'long gone are the days when MLB was replete with teams bleeding cashing,' a new report from Forbes shows that, on average, MLB's 30 teams are valued in excess of a record $1.5B, led by the New York Yankees ($3.5B), Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.75B), Boston Red Sox ($2.7B), World Series champion Chicago Cubs ($2.68B) and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65B); with the league's per team average trailing the NFL ($2.39B) but ahead of the average of the world's top 20 soccer teams ($1.49B), the NBA ($1.36B) and the NHL ($517M). MORE
For an organization involved with a lot of traveling you'd think MLB would have an official freight carrier, an untapped category until now with the league signing Old Dominion Freight Line as its partner, to be supported by mutli-media marketing, 30K MLB-branded trucks and presence at the seven ballparks where OD has team alliances, including delivering the World Series Trophy to the Chicago Cubs at the club's home opener (April 10, ESPN) in Wrigley Field. MORE
MLB games last about three hours, but the league is looking at a different time frame via a new alliance that names 5-Hour Energy drink an official partner for the '17 All-Star Game this July in Miami and also for the '18 All-Star Game in Washington Nationals Park, with the brand unveiling a limited-edition Apple Pie 5-Hour Energy sporting a MLB label and multi-media marketing to include a TV spot with José Altuve of the Houston Astros and presence during All-Star Week, which may come with the message, 'With its delicious apple pie taste, Apple Pie 5-Hour Energy is sure to deliver in the clutch.' MORE
In a plan initiated last summer, VF Corp. has sold its Licensed Sports Group, anchored by Majestic Athletic, to online sports apparel retailer Fanatics, a move that will be integrated with a deal signed in December naming Under Armour as MLB's official on-field apparel supplier when the league's pact with Majestic expires in 2019 that also gave Fanatics consumer product licensing rights to distribute UA products, which created significant concern among Majestic employees until it was revealed that their factory was also part of the VF Corp.-Fanatics transaction, supported by Under Armour stating that Majestic's crew 'would continue to play a major role in building Under Armour's MLB team apparel business.' MORE
Apparently not content to have shown up in a hospital to mentor a couple about to have a baby, three-time World Series champion catcher Buster Posey is back for Eurance in a new series of humorous ads, 'Pep Talks With Buster,' leaving the comfort of his position behind home plate to help people resolve situations in the neighborhood, all car-related owing to the fact that the Esurance is the official auto insurance sponsor for MLB, including a dad trying to install a stubborn car seat and a young man who is driving challenged, with the on-air and online creative part of a platform that encompasses the all-digital Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot and the Esurance MLB Awards. MORE
In the world of MLB partnerships, Coca-Cola has alliances with 18 teams and Pepsi 11, but Coke has taken back the big chip by signing a multi-year pact to be the league's official soft drink, a status it last held in 1996 before rival Pepsi moved in, complete with planned multi-platform marketing driven by two elements that had barely seen the light of day 20 years ago — digital and social media — as well as more traditional TV and print efforts, with presence at jewel events including the All-Star Game and post-season. 'Our goal is to entertain and refresh fans on a daily basis,' said Sandy Douglas, president for Coca-Cola North America. MORE
Since retiring from baseball in 2016 after 20 MLB seasons, David Ortiz has been involved in numerous projects — including Big Papi's Kitchen, The Big Papi Network, Big Papi Cigars and the David Ortiz Children's Fund — and has been in marketing campaigns for the likes of Turbo Tax, JetBlue, Amazon Web Services, Dunkin' Donuts and ESPN — but all of that still leaves him with too much time on his hands, so Ortiz and John Hancock are asking people so submit ideas as to what the three-time World Series champ with the Boston Red Sox should do next: go surfing, learn to speak Japanese, work as a vendor in Fenway Park . . . all to support John Hancock's retirement services and their alliance with Ortiz' Children's Fund, which will field a team in the upcoming Boston Marathon, for which John Hancock is a lead sponsor. MORE
It may have taken ten years, but MLB has regained the No. 1 spot it relinquished to the NFL in the new Brand Keys 25th annual Sports Fan Loyalty Index, with the NBA also moving up to second and the NFL down to third (ahead of the NHL), a situation that came as a surprise to Robert Passikoff, founder and president for NY-based Brand Keys, but one that was not completely unexpected. 'The Chicago Cubs win the World Series and fans say, 'All the support I put into them was worth the wait,' and baseball is fostering that attitude,' said Passikoff. 'But fans see the NFL treating franchises like Monopoly pieces and it is reflected in lower TV numbers and fan loyalty.' MORE
It's good to win the World Series after 108 years, which has raised the Chicago Cubs to new heights and helped the faux business of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — Bryzzo Souvenir Co. — thrive, with new employees (including teammates Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber), an intern (retired catcher David Ross) and a new jingle, courtesy of long-time Cubs fan and Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder: 'Gone, gone, home run, this one's gonna go. Kiss it goodbye — that ball was Bryzzo'd!' All part of MLB's umbrella campaign, 'This Season in Baseball.' MORE
MLB is famous for its dog days, those hot, oppressive games in summer when players and plays seem slow and lethargic, but MLB is also known for its Dog Days — aka Bark in the Park, Pups at the Park and Pooches in the Ballpark — when canines can go to the stadium along with their owners, with more than half the league's teams holding such events this year, supported by team marketing partners and aligned with local and national animal adoption or rescue agencies, including Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) under the auspices of three-time winning World Series manager Tony La Russa. 'Our commitment to people saving animals and animals saving people has never been stronger,' said La Russa. MORE
People ate more than 19.4M hot dogs at MLB games last year, with each vender selling about 10K each over the course of the season, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, but MLB has not had an official hot dog until now, signing New York-based Nathan's Famous as the league's official dog, with the iconic brand, already aligned with such teams as the New York Yankees, New York Mets and Miami Marlins, planning a marketing campaign to launch at the beginning of the season, including a sweeps that would 'grant one lucky dog the the chance of a lifetime.' MORE
MLB is known as 'The Show,' which fits in perfectly with a new multi-platform effort to support the Open Day 2017, 'This Season On Baseball' which will track rivalries, storylines, top plays and players and other key events in the league, ala a reality show, with the umbrella intro spot starring such players as Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant and Mookie Betts, with creative to arrive throughout the year. 'MLB is must-see entertainment with new heroes, starts and stories developing every day,' said Tony Petitt, COO for MLB. MORE
Sy Berger was a major influence at Topps for more than 50 years before his death in 2014, so it makes sense that the company would join with Aramark, which handles food, beverage and/or service facilities for ten MLB stadiums, to create an 18-card insert series featuring some of the hottest menu items around the Big Leagues, including the Cracker Jack & Mac Dog (Pittsburgh Pirates), Classic Pastrami Sandwich (New York Mets), Cheesy Corn Brisket-Acho (Kansas City Royals) and the Chicken and Waffle Cone (Houston Astos), classic treats that will be sold alongside an array of new delectables from Aramark, Delaware North, Levy Restaurant and other MLB food-beverage partners. MORE
In 2005, in response to the IOC voting to oust baseball and softball from the Olympics beginning with the 2012 London Games, the sport's overseeing body worked with MLB, MLBPA and other governing bodies worldwide to launch the World Baseball Classic — the fourth iteration of which is currently underway with 16 teams and more than 60 marketing partners — but baseball and softball have been reinstated to the Olympics beginning with the 2020 Tokyo Games. Does that put the future of the WBC in jeopardy? 'The WBC and the Olympic Games can absolutely co-exist,' Dominick Balsamo, vp-international media sales and marketing partnerships for MLB, says in this Q&A. 'The two events are distinct and attract their own fans and marketing partners.'
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
With the end goal being to 'create more excitement' and 'create a less-compressed schedule to benefit student-athletes,' the NCAA said it would spend the next six-to-12 months gathering data that could initiate such changes in men's hoops as widening the lane, extending the three-point line, reconfiguring games from two 20-minute halves to four ten-minute quarters and starting the campaign days earlier while providing a break during mid-season, some or all of which could happen for 2018-19. According to the NCAA, the Men's Basketball Rules Committee would 'conduct a holistic review of potential significant rule changes, including an examination to determine if changes would benefit the sport and help positive trends continue.' MORE
Looking ahead to the 2019-22 seasons, the NCAA has unveiled more than 600 host sites for preliminary and finals games across its 90 championships, with perhaps the biggest take-away being a return to North Carolina, which the NCAA, NBA and others had previously withdrawn from due to HB2, the controversial bill that local officials said has since been amended but which major opponents claim has not. While the NCAA stated that is decisions on these host sites would 'create a great atmosphere for student-athletes, coaches and fans,' James Essecks, director for the ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project, had a different view. 'When the NCAA originally withdrew from North Carolina they did so because they claimed to care about fairness and inclusion for college athletes and fans. It's a shame to see that those concerns have already fallen by the wayside.' MORE
According to the saying, There's no business like shoe business . . . especially if those shoes can help take you to the NCAA hoops championship, and the big three brands during March Madness are Nike which has deals with 40 schools — including No. 1 seeds Villanova, Gonzaga and UNC, as well as women's No. 1 overall seed UConn — adidas with 15 schools (including No. 1 seed Kansas) and Under Armour with ten schools plus Russell Athletic (which outfits the feet of Texas Southern), according to Apex Marketing Group, whose numbers also show that while Nike sits atop the Big Dance kicks count, they have eight fewer schools than in 2015 while Under Armour (plus six) and adidas (plus four) schools have taken those spots in the tourney this year. MORE
With the NCAA Div. I Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments heading to their respective Final Fours this weekend, trophies, honors and awards for the top players and coaches from this past season will be front and center, including what is considered the most prestigious, the Naismith Trophy, which now has a presenting sponsor, Citizen Watch, just in time to see four men and four women vie to be named the college players of the year, including Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Frank Mason III (Kansas) and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) among the men; and Naphessa Collier (UConn), Kelsey Plum (Washington), Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn) and A'Ja Wilson (South Carolina) among the women — each hoping to join a list of such previous Citizen Watch Naismith College Players of the Year as Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart. MORE
With the Men's Div. I Basketball Tournament heading toward the Sweet 16, it is fitting that Intel has signed on to become the NCAA's 16th Corporate Partner — the NCAA also has three Corporate Champion alliances — which said it would enable people to access for the first time Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four and the Championship Game in VR for the first time via Intel True VR, providing the equivalent of a courtside seat with 360-degree capability and live commentary, plus an Intel VR app that will offer enhanced video highlights, stats, scoreboards and other touchpoints in and around the games. 'Intel's technology integrations during March Madness is one example of how Intel is changing the fan experience with True VR and 360 replay technology,' said James Carwana, GM for the Intel Sports Group. MORE
NBA Hall of Famer and member of the CBS/Turner Sports college hoops' Tournament broadcast team Reggie Miller likes Coca-Cola, is a messy eater, sleeps late and loves to sing Seal's 'Kiss Like a Rose,' all of which we know thanks to a series of TV spots from NCAA partner Amazon to support its Echo and Alexa platforms, with Reggie calling for assistance in a variety of situations, part of a larger March Madness campaign that also includes Internet, social media, presence on March Madness Live and Alexa programmed to answer specific questions about scores, schedules and live radio feeds of games in progress. MORE
As the official hangout for the NCAA, Buffalo Wild Wings knows a few things about wings, beer and unusual sports situations, such as sprinkler systems that unexpectedly turn on mid-game, stadium lights that mysteriously turn off at key moments, the possibility that Men in Black had something to do with Brett Favre's record number of NFL interceptions, voodoo dolls made from food and a 'Hit The Button' that can send a Super Bowl or March Madness games into overtime, all of which B-Dubs is putting into play for a multi-platform 'We Do It All For You Campaign' with TV, social media and in-restaurant and on-site activation that will run through the Big Dance and to the Final Four in Phoenix. MORE
Of all the people heading to Phoenix to see the men's Final Four and championship game, Charles Barkley, Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee are three of them, thanks to Capital One's fourth edition of 'This Is March Madness,' which sees the trio also bringing a guest, Gloria Gaynor, who in one of several new spots gets to sing her signature song, 'I Will Survive,' as part of a multi-platform campaign in which the official NCAA partner will be title sponsor for the March Madness Bracket Challenge, Capital One Jam Fest (starring Aerosmith), the Final Four FanFest and, on the women's side, presenting sponsor for Tourney Town at the Final Four in Dallas. MORE
When it comes to March, there is no shortage of Madness or marketing, with the 2017 tournament seeking to top last year's record $1.24B ad spend, driven by NCAA partners including GM ($493M), AT&T ($80M), Coca-Cola, Capital One and Unillever and such categories as automotive, telecom, financial services, restaurants and insurance; with broadcast partners CBS and Turner Sports' TBS, TNT and truTV again loaded with companies seeking to reach eyeballs and wallets from the First Four (March 14-15) through the Final Four (April 1) and Championship Game (April 3). MORE
The Ivy League is going to a new classroom — its first post-season men's and women's basketball tournament, being played in the iconic Palestra in Philadelphia (March 11-12), with the winning teams getting a bid to the NCAA Tournament; joined by such marketing partners as presenting firm Citizens Bank, Coca-Cola, Nike and Under Armour, and games to air on ESPN platforms. But as Paul Bamundo, former marketing exec for the NBA and Subway and now CMO for Ivy League Sports — a collaboration between JMI Sports and the Ivy League — relates in this Q&A, although the Ivy League was the last NCAA hoops conference to organize a post-season event, the excitement, intensity and competition will rival that of more-established basketball tournaments.
By the numbers, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament starts with the First Four (March 14-15) and runs through the Final Four (April 1-April 3), with 68 teams and some 900 players seeking to be this year's real deal or Cinderella, but the numbers can be drilled down much farther, including a projected $150M economic impact on Final Four host city Phoenix, where 125K visitors will spend an average of $2,100 each, according to online financial destination WalletHub; with some 70M brackets expected to be filled out; but of equal importance: the sales of pizza and desserts will rise and the number of barrels of beer being produced will go up 3.5M to 17.5M during the month. MORE
The NCAA, currently involved with the college basketball season en route to March Madness 2017 in Phoenix, has unveiled some activation details for March Madness 2018 in San Antonio, including the official logo, marketing and community plans to support the event, with the Final Four to take place in the Alamodome March 29 and April 2, all part of the city's Tricentennial Celebration, marking the first men's Div. I hoops championship there since 2008 but the fourth overall. According to Dan Gavitt, vp-NCAA men's basketball championships, 'It's evident that the Final Four has a lasting effect on the host city and we're excited to bring it back to San Antonio.' MORE
NEWS FROM NBA 2016-17
The Golden State Warriors have again finished with the best record in the NBA, a rewarding advantage for them in the upcoming playoffs and a rewarding result in marketing and sales, with Stephen Curry for the second season leading the league in jersey sales and the Warriors sitting atop team merchandise sales, according to NBAStore.com results from the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign, with LeBron James coming in second in jersey sales and his Cleveland Cavailers No. 2 in team merchandise, but James' and teammate Kyrie Irving were the leaders in shoe sales, with their respective Nike lines outpacing all other players. MORE
Athletes such as LeBron James, Drew Brees, Karl-Anthony Towns, Joey Logano and David Villa know how much hard work and sacrifice it takes to become a pro player, just as model Adriana Lima and actress Zendaya understand the years of dedication it takes to get high-paid jobs in their fields, but they all come together in Verizon's Innovative Learning campaign, 'We Need More . . .' to tell kids 'We don't need more LeBrons, more Drews or more Adrianas, we need more scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians — the STEM fields — which are growing and well-paying professions that can help to improve the future of the world.' MORE
As part of its on-going efforts to build alliances with and create more inroads to fans and consumers in China, the NBA is continuing to send top stars to the nation under its Global Games platform, with the Golden State Warriors — led by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — scheduled to play two pre-season games this coming October against the Minnesota Timberwolves with Karl-Anthony towns, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio; part of the NBA's strategy that also includes games airing on TV and streaming live, a dedicated China Web site, offices in three cities, products sold in some 50K locations and a NBA Playzone family-themed destination in Shanghai, as well as off-season tours by LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Curry, Durant and others spearheaed by the likes of Nike, adidas and Under Armour. 'We are proud that after these games, nearly half of the NBA teams will have played live in front of fans in China,' said David Shoemaker, CEO for NBA China. MORE
The NBA is entering el mes de Marzo como un leon, unveiling a multi-platform effort to support its 11th annual Noches ene•be•a Latin Nights platform, including TV, Internet, social media, community and in-arena activation and such merchandise as jerseys, hats, T-shirts and socks, which will be brought to light via all 30 teams and numerous Latin-themed games involving Los Suns, Los Bulls, El Heat, Nueva York and others; as explained by the campaign's lead TV spot: 'Vive La Passion celebrates the Latino fans who weave the NBA into everyday life, not just watching but living it, true fans who live NBA passion both on and off the court. MORE
Hall of Famer, five-time NBA champion and three-time NBA Finals MVP Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, who played his entire pro career with the Los Angeles Lakers and has also been their coach, vice-president and a minority owner, is returning to the franchise after team president Jeanie Buss named him president of basketball operations, the center of a shakeup among team hierarchy that also sees long-time GM Mitch Kupchak relieved of his role and Jim Buss, brother of Jeanie, reassigned from his duties as vp-basketball operations (although remaining as a team owner along with Jeanie and other siblings), the result of the Lakers posting a combined record of 84-220 since 2013-14 (through the All-Star Game break this season), with both Jeanie Buss and Johnson vowing to return the franchise to 'the values and standards of the purple-and-gold' set by Buss' father and long-time franchise owner, Dr. Jerry Buss (who passed away in 2013). MORE
Beginning next season, in what was called an unprecedented alliance, Gatorade will take title sponsorship of the NBA's Developmental League, which will be known as the NBA Gatorade League, to include uniform logos, signage and other marketing platforms, with the partnership to focus on players testing new Gatorade 'products and innovations' and Gatorade using its Sports Science Institute to 'collaborate with the G-League on programs to enhance sports performance and recovery,' much of which will be shared with the public and NBA marketing partners during All-Star Game weekend. MORE
Nike has gathered together some of its most impactful athletes — including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Gabby Douglas and Megan Rapinoe, plus singer Alicia Keys and actor Michael B. Jordan — for a mutli-platform cause-marketing push, 'Equality,' which encompasses partnerships with Mentor and PeacePlayers — organizations that use sports to support and encourage youth and equality worldwide — to be shared via TV, outdoor, Internet, social media and on-site activation at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans in an effort to show how equality on the court, based on skill not color, should extend to all walks of life. MORE
Despite the fact that he's averaging a triple-double this season, Russell Westbrook claims he is not about the numbers but is all about the wins, until he shares a list of his stats in a new spot from Foot Locker, including the number of times he has crashed into cameramen (1.7 times a game), appearing in 72% of opposing coaches' nightmares and keeping Vine alive for seven months with his highlights, then crosses the line when he claims to be the 'greatest Russell in NBA history,' a statement quickly refuted by Hall of Famer, 11-time NBA champ and five-time MVP Bill Russell — all in good fun to sell Air Jordan XXI kicks and other gear from Jordan Brand. MORE
Calling it the 'largest partnership with a professional sports league in its history,' Jack Daniel's has signed a multi-year deal making it an official marketing partner with the NBA, WNBA, D-League and USA Basketball, to be supported by a hoops-themed multi-level campaign — which has launched with an ad that shows a statue of brand founder Jasper Newton 'Jack' Daniel and a basektball — to also include a heavy dose of 'Drink Responsibly,' with the alliance's coming-out party to be staged at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, where the spirits and alcohol company to feature sponsorship of the All-Star Celebrity Game and Jack Daniel's House No. 7 hosting music, food, 'unique programming' and, of course, drink for people legal age. MORE
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have won the past two NBA championships and they could meet in the Finals again this June, so it comes as little surprise that LeBron James and the Cavs and Stephen Curry and the Warriors have the best-selling jerseys and overall NBA merchandise October-December 2016, according to NBAStore.com, with Curry's teammate Kevin Durant, who joined the team this season from the Oklahoma City Thunder, at No. 3, James' teammate Kyrie Irving at No. 4 — with James and Irving tops among players via sales of their Nike shoes — and Russell Westbrook of the Thunder rounding out the Top 5 ahead of Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), Kristaps Porzingas (New York Knicks), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Jimmy Butler (Bulls) and Derrick Rose (Knicks). MORE
In the mischievously good-natured vein of the 1979 classic, Animal House, Turner Sports has its own Delta Tau Chi fraternity, populated by Robert Hoover (played by Ernie Johnson), John 'Bluto' Blutarsky (played by Charles 'Sir Charles' Barkley), Eric 'Otter' Stratton (played by Kenny 'The Jet' Smith) and Daniel Simpson 'D-Day' Day (played by Shaquille 'Big Diesel' O'Neal). But as Turner Sports evp-production and chief content officer Craig Barry — who here gets the role of Animal House director John Landis — relates in this Q&A, letting the four Inside The NBA guys banter and joke among themselves on almost any topic — such as Shaq investing in the company that makes one of his favorite foods, Krispy Kreme — resonates with viewers because they are real, the show is authentic and, above all else, the focus always comes back to the NBA.
NEWS FROM NHL 2016-17
In 1989, Upper Deck made sports history by releasing its first MLB set with then rookie Ken Griffey Jr. in the leadoff spot as card No. 1, and earlier this month the company again made history with the release of the Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection featuring 20 NHL icons and stars, including Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and young phenom Connor McDavid, which comes in limited-edition and is available via 'blind pack' in silver and gold. But as Jason Masherah, president for Upper Deck, relates in this Q&A, it's not such products as the coins, the Griffey Jr. card, collections from Disney and Marvel or NHL and other sports collectibles that are driving the trading card and memorabilia category, but rather the personal aspect he is seeing as more parents are connecting with their kids via these pieces of sport.
Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky is known as 'The Great One,' and now he has gold and silver coins to prove it, part of a just-released set of 20 limited-edition coins from Upper Deck, the Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection, which includes pure silver and 24 karat gold minted coins featuring images of 20 NHL icons or stars — Patrick Roy, Jaromir Jagr, Henrik Lundqvist, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin among them — that will arrive in 'blind bags' and, according to the trading card and memorabilia company, will quickly become collectors items. 'This is groundbreaking. No one has presented anything like this for the coin business, adding a layer of anticipation,' said Jason Masherah, president for Upper Deck. MORE
Stating that 'we now consider the matter officially closed,' NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league would not stop play to allow its players to participate in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, citing finances as a major issue, but there was an opposing viewpoint from the NHL Players' Assn., calling Bettman's decision 'disappointing' and 'short-sighted,' as well as from the IOC, which stated, '(We) feel sorry for the atheltes' and from the players themselves,' including All-Star Alex Ovechkin, who said he still plans to be in the Olympics with Russia's National Team, and New York Rangers goalie Henrik Ludqvist, who posted on his Twitter page, 'A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted.' MORE
You must be doing something right if you are 125 years old and people want to earn the right to be in your presence, carry you around, take you on trips, pay homage to your history and strive to be part of your future, a description of how the NHL and its players feel about the league's ultimate honor, the Stanley Cup, as it takes center ice in a multi-media effort honoring the 125th anniversary of Lord Stanley's trophy, which, according a campaign TV spot, 'If this Cup could talk, it would recall countless hearts it has touched and all of the places it has been.' MORE
As they sing in the 1937 warbler, Hooray for Hollywood, 'Any office boy or young mechanic can be a panic,' which is what NBC Sports is crooning for a multi-media effort, 'Hockey Goes Hollywood,' to support its coverage of the Honda NHL All-Star Game and surrounding events taking place this weekend in Los Angeles, with a dozen of the league's top players — such as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Lane, Tuukka Rask and Wayne Simmonds — appearing in a series of TV spots and NBC and the NHL joining their Internet and social media forces to put a spotlight on the game as well as the league's Centennial Celebration. 'The campaign is about bringing the stars and the sport to life authentically through the lens of Hollywood, including the movie life that Los Angeles is known for,' said NBC Sports Group CMO Jenny Storms. MORE
According to The Weather Channel, it is expected to be in the mid-30s in St. Louis on Jan. 2, 2017, not freezing but cold enough for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to add a spicy chill to the event, and just right for a promo from league partners Reebok and Lids, 'Born in the Cold,' which asks people to submit via Twitter and Instagram pictures or videos showing how they brave frigid temperatures, with the top prizes including tickets to the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and host Blues or to the Alumni Game, scheduled to include such icons as Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull. MORE
The NHL's Centennial Celebration just got a bit sweeter with the league signing a multi-year deal with Dunkin' Donuts to become its official coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich partner in the U.S., to begin at the Bridgestone Winter Classic game Jan. 2 and then continue through All-Star Game weekend, the Stadium Series and Stanley Cup playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals, which will see Dunkin' Donuts activate multi-media marketing via TV, Internet, social media and in-arena through deals with the NHL's U.S. franchises, including fresh creative that will feature new spokespersons Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, David Backes of the Boston Bruins and Meghan Duggan of the NWHL. MORE
In a spot that channels an iconic ad from the 1990s in which Magic Johnson and Larry Bird play an über game of H*O*R*S*E for a Big Mac and fries (and re-created years later by LeBron James and Dwight Howard), Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs are featured in the humorous 'Call Your Shot,' part of a multi-media 'Aim For Greatness' effort from Bauer Hockey, in which the two players challenge each other to take ever-increasingly difficult slap shots using Bauer's new 1N hockey stick, with the pair ultimately trashing on-set cameras, lights, an ice sculpture, a table filled with food and other items. MORE
NEWS FROM eSPORTS
Stating that 'consumers are embracing the possibilities that games now offer to view, create and play on every screen,' marketing and research firm NewZoo's Global Games Market Report shows that revenue from the global games market hit a record $99.6B last year and would top $100B in 2017, led by such titles as League of Legends, Heroes of Warcraft, Counter Strike: Global Offense and Minecraft; that eSports, mobile and live-stream are the leading drivers; that the top companies are led by Tencent ($10B revenue), Sony ($7.8B), Activision Blizzard ($6.6B) and Microsoft ($6.5B); and with China overtaking the U.S. as the nation with the largest games revenue. MORE
In what was called a move intended to help make Washington DC the 'eSports capital' of the world, Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, has signed a deal to be an exclusive sponsor for NRG eSports, the Los Angeles-based organization that has teams in numerous eSports competitions, which was co-founded by owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings and lists among its investors Shaquille O'Neal, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Collins, with Events DC also making alliances with Overwatch and other players in the eSports field. 'DC is no longer your grandparents' capital,' said Max Brown, chairman for Events DC. 'In the next five to eight years, DC will be positioned to be the capital of eSports.' MORE
Following live-streaming deals with the likes of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, Twitter is now boosting its presence in the burgeoning landscape of eSports by signing alliances with top category players ESL and DreamHack to not only live-stream events during the coming year — beginning with the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Poland — but to also run live and original content, including a weekly show from ESL to include highlights, behind-the-scenes footage and access to gamers and upcoming competitions, encompassing some 1,500 hours of content. 'eSports is growing at a rapid pace and we see this collaboration as a way to tap into the engaged audience of gamers who already use Twitter as a primary source of content,' said Anthony Noto, COO for Twitter. MORE
Envisioning it as the next battleground for brands, marketers, media and players, the global eSports landscape will continue to grow in 2017 and accelerate thru 2020, reaching revenues of $1.5B, according to a new study from research and consulting firm NewZoo, which anticipates that the number of players will top 58M, the audience will hit 358M and the global eSports economy will near $700M this year; and forecasts the category could impact nearly 2B people over the next four years, driven by increased viewership on TV, the addition of more pro sports leagues such as the NBA and FIFA; and more investments and activation from non-endemic companies, a list that already includes the likes of Coca-Cola, Bud Light, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bell, Ford, Hyundai, Gillette, Axe and sportswear and shoe companies Nike, adidas and Under Armour, 'which will battle it out for eSports team jerseys and footwear deals.'