sports in the spotlight

Mizzou's Michael Sam Breaks Down Barriers as First Openly Gay NFL Hopeful

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 10, 2014 05:50 PM

As Winter Olympics host Russia continues to get plenty of grief for its anti-gay laws, the US took another step in its gay-rights acceptance evolution Sunday when college football star Michael Sam publically announced that he's gay.

The Missouri graduate, who reached All-American status and was the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 is slated to be picked perhaps as high as the third round in the upcoming NFL draft—and according to reactions, Sam's new status won't have much affect on his potential pro-football career. 

Unless Sam's decision to speak out spurs a chain reaction, Sam will likely take the field in August for his new team as the first openly gay player in the NFL. His decision to hopefully enter the NFL "out" will be a first for the sports league, as it has only had a handful of players in the past who have come out after retiring from the game. After the end of this past season, the NBA saw its first player announce that he was gay, but Jason Collins has yet to sign with a new team this year. Major League Soccer also saw its first openly gay active player emerge last May. 

Pegged as one of the toughest and "manliest" sports out there, Sam knows that his decision is significant in a football industry that thrives on testosterone and masculinity. "I am an openly, proud gay man," Sam told ESPN. "I understand how big this is. It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."Continue reading...


This Big Game Isn't Just for Brands as Feds Seize Over $21 Million in Fake Goods

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 4, 2014 10:14 AM

T-shirts and caps made up for locker-room celebrations that never happen for the losing teams of the World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship and more major sporting contests usually end up getting shipped off to some far corner of the earth where people (and the brands) could care less whether the Red Sox won the world championship or not.

However, when truckloads of counterfeit goods were taken out of storage and handed out to Hurricane Katrina survivors a few years ago, legal representatives for a number of brands were not happy.

“In its act of charity, the federal government sacrificed the rights of trademark holders,” Kristina Rae Montanaro wrote in The Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, according to the New York Times. “(T)hese companies did not spend millions of dollars in high-end advertising only to be associated with ‘shelter chic.’ ”

And so the $21.6 million worth of Super Bowl-related counterfeit goods, more than 202,000 items—most of it clothing—that was seized by federal agents in the last week or so will be taken to industrial shredders once they aren’t needed anymore as evidence in the cases against the 50 individuals arrested.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Best Buy, Target, Google and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 17, 2014 09:25 AM

In the News

Best Buy saw cheaper-price strategy fizzle for Christmas.

Target tests small store for urban shoppers.

Google tests "smart" contact lens.

Bitcoin breaks into NBA.

Black + Decker redesigns brand.

Cadbury takes "wearable tech" to whole new level.

Campbell marks 80th anniversary of condensed chicken-noodle soup with social campaign.

Chevrolet boosts presence in Russia.

Coldwell Banker creats pre-launch buzz for Grammys spot.

Domino's plans to remodel all restaurants by 2017.Continue reading...

brand partners

Devils, 76ers Roll the Dice on New Sponsorship

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 10, 2014 10:53 AM

US Sports fans don't generally like to see their favorite stars gambling—especially on their own games. Michael Jordan drew a royal flush of grief from the public when he was seen gambling in Atlantic City the night before his Chicago Bulls took on the New York Knicks in a playoff game, and Pete Rose has dealt himself a lifelong mess for his betting habits. There are always rumors swirling, too, that college games are being rigged for the benefit of big boosters. 

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils have been allowed to sign a sponsorship deal with an online gambling outfit, PartyPoker, the first deal of its kind for a North American professional sports team, according to ESPN. Both teams are owned by Josh Harris and the deal is worth at least $10 million. 

"We are proud to welcome partypoker to our family as we embark on an exciting journey with an innovative, global leader in the digital marketplace," Scott O'Neil, the chief executive of Harris’ teams said, ESPN reports. "As an organization, we will continue to align with brands that aspire to grow with us, in true partnership."Continue reading...


NBA's Hornets Catch a Ride Back Home from Mercedes-Benz

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 18, 2013 04:37 PM

The NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats may have NBA legend Michael Jordan as an owner, but the club has never been remotely close to a championship, or even one to inspire much passion from the region.

The Bobcats moved into town in 2004, two years after the original Charlotte Hornets skipped town and headed to New Orleans after failing to deliver a consistently successful team. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been so easy there, either, so the team decided to rebrand itself after Tom Benson, the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, paid $338 million to the NBA to add the Hornets to his portfolio. Once the team decided on its decidedly unferocious new name, the Pelicans, the Hornets name was once again free—and fans in Charlotte were extremely interested in bringing back the moniker.

Without much trouble, the Hornets name will return to its Carolina roots next season, even adopting the same old purple and teal color scheme. “We are excited to introduce to our fans the next step in our overall brand identity as we transition to the Hornets,” Bobcats president Fred Whitfield said in a statement, Sport Illustrated reports. “Our fans were the driving force to bring back the Hornets name and we wanted to share this announcement with them.”Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: American Airlines, General Mills, Apple and more

Posted by Dale Buss on December 18, 2013 09:27 AM

In the News

American Airlines will pay Cantor Fitzgerald $135 million in a settlement based on loss and damages from the Sept. 11 attacks.

General Mills sees quarterly results miss on lower US sales, rising costs.

Apple draws praise for holiday ad about loner teen and still talks with China Mobile about iPhone deal as it makes new Mac Pro available tomorrow.

20th Century Fox uses part of Walter Mitty budget to help Philippines typhoon victims.

ABC tilts toward female viewers as it remains light on sports.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveils new logo.

AMC is sued by The Walking Dead creator over payouts.

BASF steps up investment in US.

Boeing names chief of defense, space and security unit as new COO.

BP writes off $1 billion on Brazilian well but makes major find in Gulf of Mexico.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Sweet Kicks: Foot Locker, NBA Extend Multi-Year Marketing Partnership

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2013 04:12 PM

For nearly two decades, Foot Locker and the NBA have had a fruitful partnership, one that won't be ending anytime soon. The twosome just agreed to a multi-year deal that makes the retailer an official marketing partner of the NBA, MediaPost reports. This puts Foot Locker in the same category as Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, American Express, Adidas, Nike, and 13 other major brands. 

Fans that tune into All-Star weekend’s annual skills competition will witness the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest—both on TV and online. The retailer will also sponsor the "Kicks of All-Star" section on, which will show-off footwear—most available for purchase from the retailer—worn by NBA stars during All-Star weekend.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: P&G, GlaxoSmithKline, Samsung and more

Posted by Dale Buss on December 17, 2013 09:26 AM

In the News

P&G will give Pantene ad a global push after Facebook CEO leans in.

GlaxoSmithKline stops paying doctors to promote drugs.

Samsung files EV patents.

Anchorman 2 tie-in with Dodge carries right up to the red carpet.

Boeing authorizes stock actions amid "confidence in the future."

Burt's Bees uses flower art for new lip campaign.

Facebook starts selling video ads and launches 'donate' button for non-profits.Continue reading...

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