sports in the spotlight

Sponsors Pressure FIFA Over Qatar Bid Ahead of World Cup Kickoff

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 9, 2014 11:02 AM

The 2014 World Cup hasn't even gotten underway yet, but major sponsors of the event are already criticizing FIFA for its pick for the 2022 tournament host nation: Qatar. 

The selection of Qatar in December of 2010 immediately raised major concerns for a number of factors, including the punishing heat that the country suffers through during the traditional World Cup months of June and July; the country’s poor human-rights track record; the fact that Qatar doesn’t have much of a history with soccer; and that all of the stadiums for the event needed to be constructed (and will be white elephants after), among other issues that comedian John Oliver can explain for you.

Besides former US President Bill Clinton's total disappointment with the decision to skip the US and head to Qatar, investigators have now revealed that there were likely millions of dollars in bribes exchanged in order for Qatar to win the bid, The Guardian reports. The country has also come under fire for supposedly using "slaves" to help build the needed infrastructure for the event.

On top of everything else, the news of the illegal transactions now has official sponsors including adidas, Sony, Coca-Cola and Visa concerned about their association with the event. "Our expectation remains that all of our partners maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency,” Visa said, according to Associated Press.Continue reading...

now hear this

Gatorade Spits Fire—Then Fizzles—After Powerade's King James Goes Down

Posted by Rami Levi on June 6, 2014 04:03 PM

Is it in you, LeBron?

Leading up to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, with the Miami Heat facing the San Antonio Spurs, a rematch of last year’s exhilarating NBA Finals remained the dominant storyline. That is, until the air conditioning at the AT&T Center gave way early in the first half. 

Forget Heat vs. Spurs. The main storyline was now Heat vs. Heat. 

Well, the heat won—and not the basketball team. With just seven minutes to go in a hotly contested nailbiter, LeBron James, one of the best (or the best, if you talk to him) players in the game, literally had to be carried off the court to the sidelines. The heat was cramping his style—and his leg. With their best player looking on through clenched teeth, the Heat lost their lead and eventually the game. 

Following the loss, LeBron very clearly identified the reason for his cramps: “I mean, I got all the fluids I need to get, I do my normal routine I’ve done and it was inevitable for me tonight, throughout the conditions, you know, out there on the floor,” he said. "I lost all the fluids that I was putting in in the last couple of days out there on the floor. It sucks not being out there for your team, especially at this point in the season.”

And with that statement, add one more loser to the boxscore: Powerade.Continue reading...

World Cup Daily

World Cup Watch: Budweiser Rises as One with Help from VICE

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 26, 2014 01:05 PM

With the World Cup in Brazil kicking off on June 12, brands are going into overdrive to capitalize on the growing anticipation.

Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of the massive event, has embarked on a multi-faceted World Cup marketing campaign that includes a co-branded content web series—a first for the brand—in partnership with the Millennial magnet that is the VICE media brand these days.

The "Rise as One: Modern Stories" series started as a documentary on Fox and has been playing out in episodes on its YouTube channel as well as via its (age-gated) World Cup microsite, called (in line with its World Cup tagline), Rise as One.Continue reading...

sporting brands

Manchester United Threatens Nike Deal with High-Priced Demands

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 23, 2014 03:47 PM

The season may be over on the field for Manchester United, but it apparently has only just begun for the team's board members.

Coming off its worst season in decades after losing famed coach Sir Alex Ferguson last year, the team recently booted Ferguson's replacement in hopes that Louis Van Gaal can put the team back on track next season. More concerning though than its losing record is its losses on the bottom line. And now one of the team's biggest money-makers—kit supply—is up for grabs. 

The world's most popular soccer team has been wearing Nike gear for more than 10 years thanks to the $510 million that the Portland, Ore.-based company paid out for a 13-year contract to outfit the team. While Nike would like to continue to lucrative partnership, ManU is reportedly looking for even more money once the deal wraps up after next season.Continue reading...

brand inspiration

On Eve of World Cup and AGM, McDonald's Taps Consumers for Input

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 21, 2014 02:20 PM

Coming off another disappointing quarter of sales, the "McScary" mascot launch and on the eve of its always feisty annual general meeting, McDonald's is turning up the volume on consumer engagement in order to tune in to what fans want from the world's biggest quick serve restaurant brand. 

Building on the user-generated content trend that's been tapped by Coca-Cola for its "Ahh Effect" campaign, as well as Airbnb, Canon and other brands, McDonald's UK is asking the public to weigh in on its newest burger. Mixing and matching 80 different possible ingredients, consumers can design the burger of their dreams on the MyBurger website and then vote on others' submissions. The top 12 will be judged and the winning combos will be sold for a limited time in 1,200 restaurants across the UK.

"Customization and digital engagement are becoming an integral part of how consumers interact with companies and we want to continue to innovate as a brand," Alistair Macrow, SVP and chief marketing officer of McDonald’s UK, told Marketing Magazine.Continue reading...

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...

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