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sporting brands

FIFA World Cup Tie-In Not Yet Scoring for Adidas as Nike Pulls Ahead in Europe

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 6, 2014 12:20 PM

Adidas Group, the world’s second-largest sporting-goods maker, today reported a significant decline in first-quarter earnings. Net profit fell 34 percent to €204 million (US $283.2 million), while sales fell 6 percent to €3.53 billion. North America sales, meanwhile, have slipped 20 percent.

Three key factors in the company's disappointing quarter: a 38 percent Q1 slump in its TaylorMade golf business, the strength of the euro, and continued weakness in emerging market currencies, particularly the Russian ruble. “A 35 percent earnings-per-share decline in a quarter which should have benefited at least a little bit from the upcoming World Cup is disappointing,” commented Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Kuhn to Bloomberg on the flagship adidas brand's association as an official FIFA World Cup sponsor, even though Nike will be the dominant kit supplier this year. 

Adidas has created a special soccer ball (dubbed Brazuca) for FIFA that it's been testing, but this World Cup is seeing the company, and its flagship brand, tested on many fronts—most of all by its fiercest rival.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Unpacking the Impact of the NBA's "We Are One" LA Clippers Content Strategy

Posted by Jeremy Shapero on May 5, 2014 06:43 PM

On April 25, 2014, the spotlight shifted from a historic first round of the NBA playoffs when TMZ released a recording that exposed the bigoted and hateful beliefs of longstanding LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. The NBA, consistently viewed as one of the most progressive among the major professional sports leagues, was now teetering on the brink of a brand disaster.

As noted here, the league complemented decisive action with a compelling content strategy to quickly control the situation. This strategy began with a press conference by Commissioner Adam Silver and was followed by a revamped Los Angeles Clippers homepage—a black screen with a simple message, “We Are One.”

The message and its accompanying visual identity was quickly rolled out across the league on social media channels. That night, throughout the three playoff games, the NBA ran a powerful 30 second spot featuring understated visuals of teamwork on the court complementing a succinct but sharp extension of the “We Are One” message. Now there are even official t-shirts, in partnership with adidas, to help spread the message and support anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations.

The NBA’s response was applauded by prominent figures, sponsors (not just adidas, but also Kia Motors and Kumho Tires), and organizations inside and outside the league. A representative for Kumho told The Oregonian, "Our confidence is even stronger going into a three-year sponsorship seeing how they handled such a serious and negative situation as racism. It shows us that we have a sound partner in the NBA that makes strong decisions even in the face of adversity." (Another brand, Skechers, is reportedly considering buying a stake in the team.)

But to gauge the effectiveness of this content strategy with the general public, it is critical to examine the conversation around the controversy across social channels.Continue reading...

sports in the spotlight

Branded Entertainment Extends FIFA World Cup Fever Off the Field

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 5, 2014 04:43 PM

In just over a month, the world's top soccer players will take to the field and do battle from June 12 to July 13 in soccer's quadrennial blockbuster event, the FIFA World Cup. Big brands, though, are already tangling and showing their soccer cred in hopes of winning the hearts and minds of the billions that get a glimpse of the World Cup. The Super Bowl is nothing compared with this.

With a relationship with FIFA dating back to 1974, and as an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1978, Coca-Cola is celebrating this year's event with what it's billing as the largest marketing campaign in company history, entitled The World's Cup. Aimed at involving as many consumers as possible, the campaign kicked off in early April with a two-minute short film, called "One World, One Game."Continue reading...

response mechanism

We Are One: The LA Clippers' Deft Content Strategy Saves the Game

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 1, 2014 12:54 PM

The NBA's lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after the racially-charged uproar this week reminds us how fiercely loyal sports fans can be. No matter what a complete jerk and bozo the team owner might be, they remain loyal to the players on the field and to the sport they love.

Sometime this summer or next season, Clippers fans won't have to suffer through that indignity any more, and can truly celebrate the team's finally winning its first division title in 2013 after being a perennial loser since its founding in 1970. They may end up with a new owner that could very well see some VIPs (Floyd Mayweather? Magic Johnson? Oprah Winfrey?) taking over for a man who is stuck back in the mindset of Bull Connor, the man who turned on the hoses and released the dogs onto the citizens of Birmingham, Alabama, in the early '60s.

Whoever takes over, this much is clear: The Clippers—and the NBA—are ready to move on, and swiftly at that, as shown by a rapid response and deft content strategy that resulted in any tarnish belonging to Sterling alone.Continue reading...

olympic effort

Sochi Olympics Brands: Tonga's First Luger Powered by Underwear and More

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 10, 2014 12:32 PM

Bruno Banani may be a no-name in America, but he’s a hero in the tiny island nation of Tonga and his name is well-known across Europe.

In Tonga, Banani is the nation’s first Winter Olympian, a luger who isn’t expected to bring home gold but is still celebrated by Tongans for breaking the Winter Games-barrier for the warm-weather country. In Europe, Banani is famed for another reason. It’s the name of an underwear manufacturer that is known for its wacky marketing campaigns, such as having Russian astronauts wear the underwear aboard a space station.

The Tongan with the same name is no coincidence. The nation’s royal family was keen on finding an athlete to send to the Winter Olympics, but not without some financial support. So international marketing company Makai hooked them up with Bruno Banani. The country and the company teamed up to find a Tongan who would fit the bill and auditioned 20 or so men, all of whom were told that they’d need to change their name if they were selected. The eventual winner was Fuahea Semi—or Bruno Banani.

“Look, this was quite a risky plan,” said Mathias Ihle, the head of Makai’s European division, according to the New York Times. “We were a very young agency. We had just started. We wanted to prove that we were creative. So in order to promote him, we came up with the idea of changing his name.”Continue reading...

olympic effort

Chevrolet, Coke Turn to Olympic Creatives to Make Strong Statements on LGBT Issue

Posted by Dale Buss on February 7, 2014 03:42 PM

It's entirely possible that little of the athletic action at the Sochi games will be as interesting as the goings on in the marketing world over Winter Olympics sponsors and advertisers and their stances—or lack thereof—on the issue of discrimination against the LGBT community in host-country Russia.

Chevrolet was the latest brand to weigh in, with an ad set to air during the Opening Ceremonies on NBC this evening that is sure to stoke the issue. As part of "#TheNew" ad, Chevy cuts to a brief scene of a gay couple celebrating their wedding, as voice-over talent John Cusack intones "the new love" as part of Chevy's message.

The ad is only the first of eight TV spots that Chevrolet plans to air during the Winter Games. And clearly the brand could use some attention. It's got a slate of crucial product launches set for the US and elsewhere this year, including the new Corvette Stingray.Continue reading...

logo no-no

Samsung Tells Athletes to Cover Up Competitors' Logos as Brands Balk at Rule 40

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 6, 2014 05:44 PM

Samsung has no doubt shelled out some serious cash to be an official Olympic sponsor in Sochi, and now it's exercising some of that weight it paid for.

As part of their Olympic goodie bags, athletes will be receiving Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphones. That's a pretty nice gesture from Samsung, but it is asking (demanding?) something in return. If athletes are using anything other than a Samsung device during the games, they must cover up the logo. So athletes are expected to put a piece of tape or other kind of cover over the Apple logos on their iPhones, among other brands. 

According to CultofMac, Samsung made the same request at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, though it remains unclear what happens to those who don't bother covering up their competitors' logo.Continue reading...

olympic effort

On Eve of Sochi Olympics, AT&T Leads Brands Protesting Russia's LGBT Stance

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 4, 2014 07:17 PM

With the Super Bowl over, it's time for the US and the rest of the world to move on to the Winter Olympics, which are set to begin this Friday in Sochi, Russia. Amid the controversy over Russia's anti-gay laws, brands are doing their best to keep spirits high and tread carefully in what has become a very sensitive situation for sponsors, athletes and fans alike.

AT&T is the latest Team USA Olympic sponsor to debut its campaign, but it's doing so in a way that makes its views clear beyond cheering athletes. For the It's Our Time campaign (hashtag: #ItsOurTime) the telecom giant is rolling out an app, a website and video booths around the US to encourage fans to send "USA!" chants over to Sochi to show their support for their home team.

That's not the only messaging attached to the campaign. While it was Coca-Cola that recently took a stance by running the first ever Super Bowl ad featuring a gay couple, it's AT&T that's leading the way on the Olympic LGBT front by publicly speaking out in favor of equality and condemning homophobia, specifically Russia's ban on gay "propaganda."Continue reading...

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