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Oakley Signs Up for Tour de France After Dropping Armstrong

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 8, 2012 12:07 PM

The removal of Lance Armstrong’s name atop the winners list of seven straight Tours de France has also meant the removal of tens of millions of sponsorship dollars for the once-beloved cyclist.

One of those organizations that split from Armstrong has been sponsoring him since before he even was diagnosed with testicular cancer and even helped pay for some of his treatment: Oakley sunglasses. Well, Oakley apparently isn’t just disgusted with the whole sport of cycling, even though Armstrong clearly isn’t the only pro in recent years who has been nabbed for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

According to Bloomberg, after 12 months of negotiating, Oakley has signed on to be a sponsor of the Tour de France itself rather than any team or individual rider. That certainly seems like a safer way to go, though plenty of sponsors, such as Rabobank, have decided to leave the sport behind for now. The move comes as the Tour looks to rehabilitate its scandal-tarnished brand ahead of its centenary next year.

“I would like to see that the sport be what it once was,” Oakley CEO Colin Baden told Bloomberg. “It’s unfortunate what we’ve all experienced. It would be really nice to get back to the place where it’s admired, respected and understood.” It appears that getting to that point may take some time, but the Tour at least has one sponsor that will stick around and help the sport get through.

One thing Oakley also isn’t abandoning is Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation. “My wife’s a cancer survivor,” Baden told Bloomberg. “My belief and hope is that the foundation can continue its mission. Only time will tell, but it’s something we as a brand will still stand behind and we believe strongly that fighting cancer is a worthy cause.”

[Photo credit: Marc Pagani Photography /]

sporting brands

Lance Armstrong Doping Fiasco: Even Non-Sponsors are Suing

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 5, 2012 02:22 PM

Plenty of folks are unhappy with Lance Armstrong, the once beloved American cyclist who has recently been stripped of his seven Tour de France victories due to damning evidence and eyewitness accounts that he took performance-enhancing drugs. The whole fiasco has cost Armstrong tens of millions in sponsorship dollars, with some donors even asking Armstrong's Livestrong foundation to return their money.

So what else can happen to the guy? Well, a few villagers in the UK took a 30-foot-tall effigy of Armstrong and burned it as part of the annual Guy Fawkes bonfire celebration, the Daily Mail reports. The effigy features Armstrong wearing a bike helmet and a yellow jersey and holding a sign that said, “Racing bike for sale no longer needed.”

UCI, the international governing body of cycling, is also feeling the heat. It's being sued by Swiss-based sportswear company Skins for $2 million, as it claims that the Armstrong doping scandal has hurt its brand. The company never sponsored Armstrong or UCI but has sponsored riders and cycling teams in the past few years.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Taco Bell Cheers Giants World Series Win with Free Doritos Locos Tacos

Posted by Dale Buss on October 29, 2012 03:57 PM

At least when marketers take out ads during the Super Bowl, they always know what they're going to get: A game stretching over about four hours and including one long halftime show. But in its best-four-out-of-seven format, baseball's World Series can be more problematic for brand sponsors because they never really know whether they've got two weeks — or just one — to make their impressions.

That's why, while the San Francisco Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers was sweet for San Francisco, it proved problematic for at least two advertising efforts tied directly to the World Series — and, seemingly, to the probability that the Series would last for at least five games.

Take Taco Bell. Thanks to a stolen base by Angel Pagan of the Giants during Game 2 of the Series, Taco Bell is planning a US-wide promotion tomorrow with MLB (assuming Hurricane Sandy doesn't blow it off-course) in which anyone in America can swing by for free Doritos Locos Tacos between 2 and 6 p.m. local time.

Pagan kicked off the fulfillment end of the "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" promotion with his swipe, stating that he "couldn't be happier my stolen base won free tacos for America.'Continue reading...

sporting brands

Batter Up, Batten Down: World Series Brings Out Counterfeiters

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 24, 2012 02:14 PM

Members of the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers are spending today readying themselves for the World Series that kicks off tomorrow in California. Players are studying their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. Coaches are figuring their strategies. Umpires are readying themselves for extra loads of bile and hatred to be thrown their way. Mayors of the two cities will surely make some kind of jovial bet.

But another team that is also prepping for the big event is Major League Baseball Properties’ licensing group. Yep, the gang that sticks MLB team logos on everything from a “temperature gnome” for your garden and a steering wheel cover to carpet tiles and desk lamps is ready to take the streets and make sure their much-beloved brands aren’t being misused.

Before the first pitch is thrown, the team will be in the streets of San Francisco trying to find counterfeit items on sale to the large number of brand new fans of the team who tend to snap up gear at World Series time in order to prove they’ve loved the team all along.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Red Bull's Next Feat: Helping Formula One Stage US Comeback With NBC

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 17, 2012 01:31 PM

The world loves Formula One racing — well, most of the world. The sport is said to be worth $3 billion annually around the globe, an amount that would grow if only America would learn to love extremely cool-looking cars zooming around at 200 mph. Now they will (once again) have a chance to go speed-dating with F1.

After a five-year hiatus, Formula One is giving the United States another try. The new $400 million Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas, will host a F1 race in November, and another race is planned in New Jersey next year, according to a profile of the sport in the new issue of Vanity Fair. (Red Bull sports marketer Jordan Miller clarified via Twitter that it's 2014 for F1 in NJ.)

“Here’s what the U.S. market has to understand,” said Red Bull driver Mark Webber to Vanity Fair. “F1 is a prototype sport. It’s about pushing the boundaries of technology. It’s luxury. It’s top gear, optimal lap time. The teams are so heavily invested technologically, the cost of shaving one-tenth of a second from a single lap time exceeds $100 million.”

However, as film director Ron Howard tells the magazine, things are a lot safer in the sport than they were back in the ‘70s: “F1 today is still a cool, intense, sexy environment,” he said. “But back in the 70s it was a lot more dangerous. Drivers would go to their first drivers’ meeting of the year, look around the room, and know that a couple of these guys wouldn’t live through the season.” Howard’s next film, Rush, is focused on the sport during that time period, and he's supporting the Circuit of the Americas track opening by attending kick-off festivities on Nov. 1st.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Red Bull Stratos: Mission Accomplished

Posted by Shirley Brady on October 14, 2012 05:17 PM

As the Red Bull press release states, "Mission Accomplished."

About 7.3 milion people were watching Sunday as Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner reattempted and nailed the Red Bull Stratos extreme skyjump, freefalling more than 128,000 feet to Earth at 1,342.8 kilometers per hour. He broke the sound barrier but no bones, and garnered congratulatory tweets from NASA and fellow daredevil Richard Branson, and an amusing tribute from Nestle's KitKat. (Update: YouTube reported more than 8 million concurrent livestreams, smashing all previous records, resulting in about 12.6 million viewers including Discovery Channel.)

Red Bull summed up its record-breaking, and latest, extreme sports stunt:Continue reading...

sporting brands

NFL Players Finding Nike Uniforms a Little Too Form-Fitting

Posted by Shirley Brady on October 3, 2012 01:23 PM

"I hate them. They are built for thin guys. It makes me look like I have big old love handles." So complains Alex Boone, a 300-pound starting guard for the San Francisco 49ers, complains about the NFL's switch from Reebok to Nike's more form-fitting uniforms this season, to the Wall Street Journal.

The uniforms were pitched as "Fast is Faster" to the NFL, but to heavier players it might as well be "Fast is Fatter," it seems.Continue reading...

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sporting brands

Why Notre Dame is Joining Flight From Big East to ACC

Posted by Matthew Moore on September 26, 2012 05:01 PM

With its recent decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for all sports except football, Notre Dame finally put to bed speculation surrounding its athletics programs and the independent status of its football program. Courted by other conferences such as the Big 12, Notre Dame has joined the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse in their recent defection from the Big East conference, of which the latter two schools were founding members.

Over the past couple of years, many argue that conference realignment has been influenced heavily by big money television contracts, as collegiate conferences negotiate long term contracts with networks on behalf of their member schools. The exceptions to the rule are Notre Dame, Army, Navy, and more recently, Brigham Young University. Notre Dame has such a following for its football program that it has maintained for years an independent status and currently has a contract with NBC to air its football games on national television. In college sports, Notre Dame is about as big a brand as they come.Continue reading...

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