Giant Beach Ball Installation Announced for Redpath Waterfront Festival, presented by Billy Bishop Airport
The Redpath Waterfront Festival, presented by Billy Bishop Airport, is pleased to announce it will be bringing another incrediball installation to Toronto's waterfront. Though not quite as large as last summer's rubber duck, the festival anticipates this year's activation will make just as big of a splash.Relive your best beach memories with HTO Pendulum Wave, presented by Menkes. The waterfront activation, custom-made for the festival by Canadian event design firm Decor & More, is made up of six 6.5' tall beach balls. Inspired by science's popular instrument, the pendulum wave, the beach balls will be suspended from a large truss frame and will swing back and forth like a pendulum.   Menkes Developments Ltd. has signed on to be the presenting partner of HTO Pendulum Wave.  "Menkes is proud to be the exclusive sponsor of this unique concept, which really embodies the spirit of the festival and celebrates Toronto's Waterfront," said Peter Menkes, President, Commercial/Industrial. "With two significant development projects underway (Sugar Wharf and Waterfront Innovation Centre), this sponsorship is particularly meaningful as it further supports our ongoing commitment to the waterfront. We're sure this installation will add a fun and playful element to this remarkable event."HTO Pendulum Wave has been partially funded by the Government of Ontario's Celebrate Ontario enhancement grant program, which is helping to support 328 festivals and events across the province in 2018.Construction of the installation is underway and more details will be released as they become available. HTO Pendulum Wave, presented by Menkes is named after HTO Park, the urban beach where it will be displayed during the festival. The name is also a play on the word H2O, an ode to Toronto's vibrant and beautiful waterfront. Other Fast Facts about HTO Pendulum WaveThe entire installation will be 22' tall, 42' wide and 12' deepThe entire installation will weigh approximately 19,000 lbsMore than 130 sq. ft of PVC material is being used to create the beach ballsVisitors will be able to interact with the installationThe Redpath Waterfront Festival bounces onto the waterfront June 22-24 with a variety of programs including: Aqua Cirque – an H20-themed circus show, the Waterfront Artisan Market, Wine & Spirit Festival, a Family Fun Zone and now an unforgettaball installation.Redpath Waterfront Festival 2018 partners include: Redpath Sugar, Billy Bishop Airport, Menkes, Waterfront BIA, Government of Ontario, Government of Canada, Westin Harbour Castle, Cision, Porter Airlines, Bell Media and Toronto Star.  ...
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Boston Uprising signs deal with Boston-based shaving company Gillette
Overwatch League organization Boston Uprising has signed a sponsorship deal with Boston-based shaving company Gillette.Gillette will operate as Boston Uprising's "official shaving product supplier"—yay. Boston Uprising's practice jerseys and facility will also bear the Gillette logo. Social media and other digital activations are also expected.“For more than a century, Gillette has worked with leading professional sports leagues and athletes,” Gillette global head of sports Greg Via said in a statement. “As the esports world continues to grow, we’re looking forward to expanding our partnership with the Kraft Sports & Entertainment and our roster of esports athletes to include Boston Uprising.”The Gillette sponsorship isn't particularly shocking considering the brand's history with the team's ownership, The Kraft Group. Gillette owners Proctor & Gamble have naming rights to the New England Patriots stadium—the NFL team owned by Robert Kraft. The deal was struck in 2002 and will continue until at least 2031.This isn't Gillette's first esports sponsorship, either. Gillette entered esports with the sponsorship of ESL's Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice in February 2017. The brand has since expanded to sponsor League of Legends' EDward Gaming, Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez, and League of Legends' TSM.“We’re confident that our fans, as well as the entire Overwatch community, will appreciate and embrace the forward-thinking nature of Gillette," Kraft Sports & Entertainment corporate sales vice president Murray Kohl said in a statement. "They have been a proud partner of Kraft Sports & Entertainment for nearly two decades and we felt strongly about the opportunity to bring such a distinguished brand to the forefront of esports.”Boston Uprising head into the Overwatch League's fifth week of stage three on a 12-game winning streak. They've already qualified for a playoff spot for the third stage, which will be held on May 6.Article by Samuel Lingle as posted on Dot Esports....
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Alex Tagliani Announces A New Sponsor In Quebec City
In the company of distinguished guests, racecar driver Alex Tagliani announced on Friday at the Salon de l'Auto Sport in Quebec City, that RONA will join EpiPen, St-Hubert and Spectra Premium as sponsors for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.Joined by Charles Valois, Vice-president, Marketing Central at Lowe's Canada, Halima Benmiloud, EpiPen Brand Manager at Pfizer Canada, Richard Scofield, President, Les Rotisseries St-Hubert, Gilles Tremblay, Director Communications and advertising at Spectra Premium, Robert E. Duval, Senior Director, International Business Development & Partnerships | NASCAR, François Lambert Chairman and Co-founder of Boostmi and Richard Coughlin, Director Sponsorship NASCAR Canada | TSN, Alex unveiled the new livery of his 2018 NASCAR Pinty's Series Chevrolet Camaro racecar. "I am extremely proud to welcome a co-title sponsor that will please Canadian motorsport fans. RONA is a well-known brand name partnering with Tagliani Autosport/22 Racing for the next two racing seasons," said Alex Tagliani. "It's an honour for us to become part of the RONA family. The number 18 car in 2018 will be an inspiring standard bearer for a Canadian brand that has its origins in Québec. It is a natural fit to be associated with RONA because I have been involved in home renovations and reselling for a long time. It's my favourite thing to do after motor racing. I would like to also thank EpiPen for believing in me for the past six years. It's a partnership that I hold dear to my heart. I would also like to thank my other sponsors: Rotisserie St-Hubert with whom we recently produced hilarious videos that you will be able to watch on their Facebook page, and also Spectra Premium, a technical partner for Tagliani Autosport. We cannot wait to start challenging for the 2018 championship honours with car 18 and to defend our win at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières," concluded Tagliani. 22 Racing Team Owner Scott Steckly welcomed RONA to the Canadian NASCAR Nation. "It's a privilege to welcome RONA to 22 Racing with Tagliani Autosport. The New EpiPen / Rona Chevrolet Camaro looks amazing. We have been fortunate to have associations with major corporations, including EpiPen, St-Hubert and Spectra Premium. "It's an honour to have a driver like Alex be part of the 22 Racing family. He is passionate and dedicated to the team and he has a great feel for the car. Since he joined the team, we have improved our road course package significantly. Now, if the 18 team can combine its 2017 performance on ovals with great performances in 2018 on the road courses, it will be a force to be reckon with and could fight for the 2018 championship," said Scott Steckly. Charles Valois of Lowe's Canada addressed the media to underscore how proud the company is to join Alex Tagliani's team for 2018 and 2019. "We are delighted to welcome Alex Tagliani into the extended RONA family. This veteran driver's racing record is impressive, and we are proud to support his quest for excellence. As with all our teams at RONA, we strive to be at the top of our class. Alex is always looking to be first. His determination is on par with the RONA's values.' QUOTES FROM THE DISTINGUISHED GUESTS Halima Benmiloud, EpiPen Brand Manager at Pfizer Canada "We are very proud to work with Alex Tagliani and to have him on our team for the sixth year as the official spokesperson for EpiPen Canada. We could not ask for a better spokesman. Alex suffers from at least one food allergy. He knows the challenges that come while running life at full speed. With the support of Alex, we have raised awareness for food allergies management among Canadians, and the most effective way to safely deal with food allergies. Congratulations to Alex and his team on his new 2018 racecar. I am sure it will be absolutely fantastic and will once again proudly display the EpiPen logo. Tag will be a tough man to beat this year." Richard Scofield, President, Les Rôtisseries St-Hubert "Rotisseries St-Hubert is proud to once again support Alex Tagliani in his quest for top-honours in the upcoming 2018 NASCAR Pinty's Series season. Alex is a passionate person and his values echo those of St-Hubert. That is why we like to say that he is part of our extended family. As a spokesperson for EpiPen, Alex is involved in raising awareness of food allergies that affect thousands of Canadians. He has emphasized the importance of staying safe by ensuring we have an EpiPen Auto-injector in each of our establishments. We also had the opportunity to work with Alex during the recording of Web videos that praise the fast and efficient St-Hubert food delivery system. You can now view the first video on our Facebook page. We wish Alex all the best for 2018!" Jason Best, Senior Vice-President, Aftermarket, Spectra Premium Industries "Spectra Premium is proud to extend its partnership with the talented racecar driver Alexandre Tagliani for the next two years. He will continue to use the Spectra Premium high-performance racing radiator and contribute to its evolution. We wish him an excellent season in the NASCAR Pinty's Series." Robert E. Duval, Senior Director, International Business Development & Partnerships | NASCAR "This is a great day for NASCAR fans in Canada and for NASCAR Pinty's series. We are extremely happy to see RONA joining Alex's long time sponsor EpiPen for the next two years. Alex is one of biggest name in Motorsport in Canada and a great ambassador for the sport. He is the best at what he does on and off track. NASCAR fans will now be able to cheer one of the most recognize brand in Canada by following the 18 team. We wish the 18 a great 2018 season." François Lambert, Chairman and Co-founder of Boostmi "We are proud to partner with Alex Tagliani because he is passionate and dedicated to his sport, which makes him an incredible goodwill ambassador. A good roadside assistance service for people on the road is like a good race team to its racecar driver. Our dream was to get involved with NASCAR, and we are now part of it. We are excited to join a winning team and to be associated with an impressive list of sponsors in this new venture. Through our racing program we want to show how people can have a winning roadside assistance service." "We can't wait for the 2018 season opener and we are happy to be involved." Richard Coughlin, Director Sponsorship NASCAR Canada / TSN "We are excited to welcome RONA as co-title sponsor of Alex Tagliani's #18 car in the NASCAR Pinty's Series. Alex is one of Canada's biggest stars and a great ambassador for the sport, making this iconic Canadian brand a great fit with his race team and our race fans across the country. We are looking forward to an electrifying race season and are proud to have RONA on board for the ride." Fans can log on the Facebook page of Alex at https://m.facebook.com/Tagliani to watch the replay of the unveiling of the Tagliani Autosport with 22 Racing car in Quebec City on Facebook Live. You can also follow Tag on Instagram @Tagliani18 as well as on Twitter @Tagliani at https://twitter.com/tagliani during his season-long quest for top honours in the NASCAR Pinty's Series. The 13-race 2018 NASCAR Pinty's season will debut the weekend of May 18-20 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario. During the course of the season, drivers will travel from Nova Scotia to Alberta, with a double-header stop in Saskatchewan, a Saturday headline race at the Toronto Indy in July, and run as the feature event at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières in mid-August. ...
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Audible Canada joins Festival of Literary Diversity as lead corporate sponsor
Audible Canada was announced Apr. 24 as lead corporate sponsor at Brampton, Ontario’s Festival of Literary Diversity.The year-round sponsorship represents a three-year commitment from the Amazon-owned audiobook service, which announced its sponsorship of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the launch of its Canadian e-store in September 2017. “This commitment from Audible Canada is a game changer,” FOLD artistic director Jael Richardson said in a statement, noting its support will provide “critical stability” for the festival.“FOLD celebrates diverse voices and Audible is proud to bring those voices to listeners across Canada,” Jon Fleming, manager of Audible Canada, said in a statement. Books by FOLD alumni such as Eden Robinson, Kim Thúy, and Lawrence Hill are currently available on Audible with Canadian actors of diverse backgrounds frequently employed as narrators.Audible’s sponsorship will allow FOLD to create a full-time staff position and to continue running and promoting its annual Reading Challenge, which encourages readers to discover authors who represent marginalized perspectives including a diversity of cultures, abilities, sexual orientations, and religions.Amanda Leduc, communications and development coordinator for FOLD, notes Audible’s support is a natural partnership for a festival that strives for accessibility, providing another format in which people can experience books. Improvements to accessibility will begin at this year’s festival, which takes place in Brampton from May 3–6. Audible will be onsite to record live panels, with recordings made available to the public. More details of the sponsorship will be made available at a later date.Article by Ryan Porter as posted on Quill and Quire...
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Make-A-Wish Welcomes Back Colliers International as Sponsor of Rope for Hope Toronto 2018
Make-A-Wish® Toronto & Central Ontario is pleased to announce that Colliers International will return as Participant Champion Sponsor of Rope for Hope Toronto on Friday, June 8, 2018."We are excited to once again partner with Colliers on our Rope for Hope fundraising event," says Sheila Rees, regional director, Make-A-Wish Toronto & Central Ontario. "Last year, its team contributed $15,000 towards the fundraising efforts of Rope for Hope Toronto participants, helping us create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses in the community. We thank Colliers for its thoughtful support of our mission and its efforts to move us closer to our Rope for Hope fundraising goal of $360,000."This year, Colliers will generously donate $100 to the first 150 individuals who register for the Toronto event.Make-A-Wish® Rope for Hope is the signature fundraiser for Make-A-Wish® Canada. Rappelling events will take place in 12 cities across the country from May through September 2018. Participants must raise a minimum of $1,500 to help grant wishes for local children, and in return, they are given the opportunity to rappel down a city skyscraper.Toronto participants will rappel 30 storeys down Toronto City Hall's east tower on June 8. All money raised will help grant wishes in the region."This event helps to support young, courageous children while solidifying the premise of the program into our consciousness," says Gigi Farrell, director, marketing, eastern Canada, Colliers International. "The foundation helps children replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope as part of the healing process. Rope for Hope is similar. Our brave people will rappel off City Hall facing their fears, hearts racing with joy while providing hope for these kids. Even our supporters will be filled with the energy accompanying such an exciting and worthwhile fundraiser. Colliers is proud to support Make-A-Wish and more deeply understand the real purpose of the program."...
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Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's national sponsorship to raise vital funds for Canadians living with dementia
The Alzheimer Society is pleased to welcome Investors Group as its first-ever national title sponsor for the Walk for Alzheimer's, the Society's annual nationwide fundraiser. Each year, enthusiastic walkers come together for a common goal: to raise vital funds for local programs and services, which will help individuals and families living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.Last year, more than 25,000 participants in more than 250 walks raised over $4.9 million in communities across Canada. Starting in May and continuing throughout the month of June, the newly branded Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's will mobilize thousands of Canadians to walk in communities across the country.More than half a million Canadians live with dementia today. In less than 15 years, this number will increase to 937,000. Costs for people with dementia are estimated to be 5.5 times greater than those who do not have the condition. Home care and long-term care are the largest contributors to direct costs."Investors Group is proud to support the Alzheimer Society and their outstanding efforts to improve the quality of life for Canadian families living with dementia," says Jeff Carney, President and CEO of Investors Group and IGM Financial. "We all know someone touched by this disease. Through our clients, we see first-hand the emotional and financial challenges this critical health issue presents for families. I know our employees and financial advisors across the country look forward to making these walks a success, delivering funds and advice to Canadians in need."Currently, there is no cure or effective treatment to delay or stop the disease. That's why it's imperative to ensure funding for programs, services and resources that will help those affected to live as independently as possible, and with the highest quality of life."On behalf of our Alzheimer Society partners across the country, I'm very excited to welcome Investors Group as the new national title sponsor for the Walk for Alzheimer's," says Pauline Tardif, CEO at the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "We are proud to partner with an organization that shares our commitment to making a difference in the lives of Canadians living with dementia. With Investor Group's support, we're able to grow our walk and reach more Canadians with dementia who need our help."Investors Group Walk for Alzheimer's is a great opportunity for communities to rally against dementia and show their support for friends, families and neighbours who are impacted, as well as spark more conversation about a disease that is affecting increasing numbers of Canadians....
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Sponsorship teaches marketers the value of long term investment, if they’ll let it
With increased pressure on marketers to do more with less, the need to be able to demonstrate genuine return on investment to business is crucial.Yet, despite this, and particularly in the areas of brand and sponsorship, there appears to be an aversion to ROI measurement. And I mean ROI as the accountant approving your budget understands and calculates it – in dollars, not clicks, not leads, not more favourable to the brand.Many are hanging their hats on these more subjective metrics, like how these tactics make consumers feel, how many people they reach, or some other ethereal measure of market or media value. And every few months (sponsorship being the prime example) there seems to be a New Improved Metric, claiming to be the “New ROI”, with no real basis for calling itself ROI and no comparison or benchmark against the performance of other marketing tactics.So, without an ability to provide or make any comparisons to other actual ROI measures, it should be no surprise that both sponsorship and brand campaigns are two of the first areas that finance looks to cut when budgets need tightening.The problem is that they take a too limited, too short-sighted view.It’s not that ROIs can’t be calculated. It’s that most analysts only calculate a direct, short-term ROI. And if you do it this way for brand or sponsorship, often your result is going to suggest that you’re losing money on your investment.Both sponsorship activities and brand campaigns are specifically designed to provide the foundation on which to build the rest of a brand’s marketing tactics.This means you’re your performance metrics need to include: (1) the indirect impact they have on strengthening your other communications with consumers, and (2) the longer-term impact that they have on your brand’s value.“But that’s exactly why those intangible metrics are being used!”I know. But those metrics aren’t ROI. And unfortunately, even if you’re drinking the most expensive champagne, finance isn’t going to take you seriously unless you’re showing them the money.The solution is not to shy away from ROI measures because they seemly tell a poor story, nor is it to create new metrics as an alternative, the solution is to ensure that you fully capture the wider (indirect) and longer-term impacts of your investment.Using a case study in event sponsorship as an example (think sponsorship of a Major League Baseball game) we used marketing mix modelling to isolate the impact that marketing and sponsorship had on sales.The short-term direct ROI of sponsorship was less than $1, in line with other studies we’ve run. This wasn’t unexpected, but it is the reason most people avoid using ROI measures for sponsorship.However, when you consider indirect impacts, we found the sponsor generated an additional $5 on top of this, through other marketing activities which were not possible without that sponsorship. When compared to other marketing tactics, this makes sponsorship a worthy investment.There are other benefits too. Understanding this indirect contribution enables you to identify how to best leverage sponsorship investments.In our example, we found that social media surrounding an event plays a significant role in boosting impact, but not far behind is ensuring synergies with offline media (i.e. making sure the sponsorship reflects, and is reflected in, traditional media channels’ creative is important).Then there’s the long-term benefit. Our results across numerous studies confirm that sponsorship is indeed a long-term burn. While returns may be less than a dollar in the short-term, sponsorship activities can add up to five times more in the years following the initial investment.The numbers change depending on the industry and final execution, but there’s a consistent pattern once the short-term and long-term effects have been built in. So, don’t be afraid of measuring ROI of your longer-term investments, embrace it.Because the more you do, assuming your decision was a good one and you’re measuring it holistically, the stronger the case for continuing to invest in sponsorship and brand in the future.Article by Jo-Ann Foo as posted on Mumbrella...
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Pleasantville Legion tees up sponsorship for veteran golfer
Newfoundland and Labrador is known for celebrating home-grown talent. But one man doesn’t get the praise that some think he deserves.68-year-old Bram Churchill is an accomplished senior long drive golfer, having played with Team Canada at the International Long Drive Challenge (ILDC) for 15 years and winning numerous competitions.Churchill knows how to hit a golf ball — far. For comparison, his average drive is 360 yards; during the 2013 season, Tiger Woods’ average drive was just over 293 yards.When Pleasantville Legion branch manager Ted Hall found out about Churchill’s accomplishments and the fact that he didn’t have a sponsor, he felt compelled to help.“Bram is a somewhat ex-service person as a retired highway patrol officer, and he’s also a Legion member and president of the Port Blandford Legion, so we jumped on board as a branch in town to do what we could for him.”Hall and Churchill are both actively involved in The Royal Canadian Legion, and the two met last August at a biannual conference in Stephenville. Hall said he was surprised he hadn’t heard about Churchill before meeting him last year.“You’ve got curling, and everybody’s on board, and people are getting sponsorships, and figure skating, and this and that, and this guy here has probably done more than any Newfoundlander that I know of in the sporting industry,” said Hall. “I mean, to be world champion, and nobody? It just blows my mind, especially being a senior citizen. It’s pretty disheartening. So, I think that’s what drove me to say, you know what? We’ll get this done — we’ll get you where you’ve got to go.”The Pleasantville Legion is sponsoring Churchill for three tournaments this year. First, he’ll head to the World Long Drive’s Bash for Cash in Ontario in June, then the United States Senior Long Drive Championships in St. Louis in July, finishing the summer with a qualifier for Team Canada with the ILDC in August.Churchill may have entered the sport late in life, but it doesn’t stop him. He’s placed in 40 different long drive tournaments provincially, nationally, and internationally since he got hooked on the sport in 2002.Churchill’s received some in-kind sponsorship for apparel and equipment over the years, including from The Telegram, and during one year out of 16 he had a sponsor send him to tournaments. He said this is the first time he’s had a major sponsor step up to help with equipment costs and send him to multiple tournaments around the world.To get enough money to travel, the retired highway patrol officer usually collects golf balls around Terra Nova, cleans them up, and sells them.“I get invited to tournaments — five or six a year. I can’t go. The only ones I can go to is the Canadian championships, and then if I qualify for Team Canada, then I’d have to scrounge money to go to the Worlds.”Churchill recalls the moment when that changed last summer.He was sitting at the Legion conference, where speakers were congratulating the young Canada Games athletes who the Legion had sponsored, when then Pleasantville Legion treasurer Barry Furlong announced they’d be sponsoring Churchill.“Barry spoke up and said, ‘You know, we look after the youth of the province, but we don’t look after seniors in the province.’ And he said, ‘How many people in this room today knows that we’ve got a senior world champion sitting with us?’ No one had a clue. And I didn’t know who he was talking about because it kind of took me off guard, and then he said, ‘Comrade Churchill, would you come up?’“Then I realized it was me they were talking about. So, then he announced that they were going to sponsor me. I fill up very easily, I’m very emotional, and it struck me. After 16 years, these two guys decided to do something for me, and it was an absolutely amazing feeling. I said, ‘B’ys, hit me or something because I’m dreaming.’”Hall also reached out to some of his contacts and, so far, he’s got NTV on board and is working on getting a golf course sponsor as well. The Legion’s already organized a few dart tournaments to raise funds, and just last weekend held a dance at the Pleasantville Legion with proceeds going to Churchill’s upcoming tournaments.To think that before Hall approached him, Churchill was considering retiring from the sport altogether.“I’ve spent a lot of lonely nights wondering if I should give this up,” he said, becoming emotional.“Now I’ve got no intentions of retiring. I’m really enthused and looking forward to this year.”Article by Juanita Mercer as posted on The Telegram...
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Are Brands Less Afraid of Outspoken Athletes Now?
Adidas might sponsor Colin Kaepernick — if he signs with an NFL team.After leading the San Francisco 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl, quarterback Colin Kaepernick landed several big-name sponsorships. He appeared in ads for McDonald’s, Beats by Dre, and Jaguar in the years that followed.But in 2016 he began kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games to draw attention to police violence. And that’s when his lucrative endorsement deals dried up. His activism led his jersey to become a top seller, but no advertisers came calling.Now, their shutout of Kaepernick might be over. Adidas definitely wants to give Kap a deal, according to Mark King, president of the company’s North American division. There’s just one catch: The athlete and activist must first sign with an NFL team. This condition reflects the ongoing ambivalence both the sports world and the business sector have had about public figures who get political.Professional sports, race, and politics have intersected in the US for more than a century, with athletes of color repeatedly shunned when they have fought injustice or refused to follow racist dictates about how they should behave. During an age in which political engagement among Americans is widespread, Adidas is toeing the line. It wants the public to know it supports the nation’s most outspoken athlete but has put the fate of a would-be sponsorship for him in the hands of the league that forced him out.When Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 after his five-year run with the 49ers, no other team picked him up. The quarterback eventually filed a grievance against the NFL team owners, accusing them of colluding against him due to his politics. The grievance and the length of time Kaepernick has gone unsigned by an NFL team make it unlikely that he will resume his football career anytime soon.He’s hardly the first athlete of color retaliated against for his political views. The boxing world exiled Muhammad Ali after he refused in 1967 to enlist in US Army during the Vietnam War. The following year, runners John Carlos and Tommie Smith gave the black power salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico to protest poverty, lynching, and racism stateside. The sprinters didn’t lose any endorsements because they had none to begin with, but they were stripped of their Olympic medals and sidelined from their athletic careers as a result.The Black Lives Matter effectIn the age of Black Lives Matter, however, it’s more difficult for sports organizations and companies to intimidate athletes into silence. When athletes stay mum about issues like police brutality, they risk alienating communities of color. After LeBron James hesitated to speak out about the 2014 police killing of 12-year-old Ohioan Tamir Rice, the slain boy’s mother called him out for it.Since then, however, James has managed to balance activism with his lucrative sponsorships. He’s discussed the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, campaigned for Hillary Clinton, and addressed his own experience with bigotry after racist graffiti was left on his Los Angeles home last year.Fox News host Laura Ingraham may want James to “shut up and dribble,” but none of his candidness about race seems to have endangered his status as a Nike pitchman: He has a lifetime deal with the company. Perhaps that’s because Nike itself has publicized its concerns about race relations. CEO and chair Mark Parker released a statement about race in the US shortly after Sterling and Castile’s high-profile police killings left the nation on edge in 2016.“I am proud that Nike stands against discrimination in any form,” Parker said. “We stand against bigotry. We stand for racial justice. We firmly believe the world can improve.”He ended the note with hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #stoptheviolence — a bold move for a multinational corporation with some customers who surely don’t share those sentiments.That summer, even Nike legend Michael Jordan, famously reticent about political issues, spoke out about racialized police violence on ESPN’s Undefeated site. A slew of Nike-sponsored athletes, including Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, have talked about racial injustice without risking their endorsement deals.But the prominence of those athletes might explain why. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who has far less name recognition than a James or a Kaepernick, lost two endorsement deals after kneeling during the national anthem in 2016. Granted, they weren’t with a giant like Nike but with the Air Academy Federal Credit Union and telecommunications company CenturyLink.Executives face backlash tooIt’s not only athletes who suffer for taking a political stance. Sports brands have taken a hit when executives have shared their political views. In 2016, Matthew LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs, told the Wall Street Journal that the company supported Donald Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Reportedly the only major brand still making athletic shoes in the US, New Balance felt the initiative would hurt business.The seemingly pro-Trump tilt to LeBretton’s words led to a public backlash, complete with outraged customers filming themselves burning their New Balance shoes. The executive did not say he backed Trump overall, only his stance on the TPP. But that got lost in translation — to New Balance’s detriment. Before long, an influential neo-Nazi blogger declared the footwear brand the “Official Shoes of White People.”A connection to Trump also led Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank to face a backlash. Last summer, when the president didn’t immediately condemn the deadly gathering of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, Plank faced criticism for serving on Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. But this time there was a twist: The Under Armour executive received pushback not only from the public but also from the athletes his company sponsors, such as Stephen Curry and Misty Copeland.Growing disapproval of his link to Trump led Plank to step down from the council. In his public statement about the decision, Plank stressed, “Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”Ambivalence about outspoken athletes remainsThat athletes can now criticize the companies that sponsor them without repercussions signals that the tide is shifting. Being openly political is no longer a liability for athletes — in many cases. Kaepernick’s career, of course, has come to a standstill. But he’s also earned considerable praise for his politics from the broader culture. Last year, he won GQ’s Citizen of the Year honor and Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.Unlike many of his athlete peers, Kap did not craft a carefully worded statement about racialized police violence. He sat during the national anthem, leading many of his critics to distort what his gesture actually meant.They ignored his concerns about racist and deadly policing, instead accusing him of protesting the national anthem and the nation’s troops. This twisting of his message continues to make the quarterback a gamble for businesses, which is why Adidas can pay lip service to the idea that it supports his right to self-expression without actually signing him.Publicly offering Kaepernick a contract with one very tricky condition is a disingenuous move that reveals sports brands haven’t completely overcome their ambivalence about politically engaged athletes.Discussing his interest in Kaepernick, Adidas executive Mark King appeared to be speaking from both sides of his mouth. He maintained that Adidas is apolitical while feigning interest in activist athletes who “bring attention to something that moves the world forward, even if there’s controversy at that moment.” These athletes, he says, “represent the world today.”In this divisive political climate, Kaepernick is certainly a sign of the times. While sports brands won’t risk publicly aligning themselves with the left or the right, this much is clear: There’s a profit to be made from activism in Trump’s America.Article by Nadra Nittle as posted on Racked....
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FIFA looks to the East as it struggles to find sponsors for Russia World Cup
With two months to go until the first ball is kicked, international soccer body FIFA is struggling to find sponsors for the 2018 World Cup.Fewer companies have signed sponsorship deals for this year's tournament in Russia than had done so two months prior to the 2014 competition, held in Brazil.FIFA divides sponsors into three groups — partners, World Cup sponsors and regional supporters.Seven "partners," all global brands with financial muscle, have signed up to FIFA's highest level of sponsorship. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Visa and Adidas have remained FIFA's loyal, long-term partners. Newcomers to FIFA's top roster of sponsors have been limited to the Middle East's Qatar Airways, Russian state oil giant Gazprom and Wanda Group, which calls itself the world's biggest private property developer.A pressing concern for FIFA is the declining number of businesses sponsoring its prime tournament.Five companies have agreed to funnel money to FIFA in return for logos plastered across Russian stadiums and other media exposure during the month-long World Cup, compared to a total of eight in Brazil.A trio of Western brands — Continental, Johnson & Johnson and Castrol — opted not to renew their sponsorship deals in 2015, the same year as reports of corruption at the top of FIFA came to light. Instead, Chinese firms have stepped up to fill the void left by U.S. and European brands.Mengniu, China's second-largest dairy company, signed a sponsorship deal in December, granting it the right to air commercials across a total of 64 World Cup games in June and July. The company is among the five firms listed in FIFA's second group of tournament-only sponsors.Sports marketer and former FIFA employee Patrick Nally said FIFA's toxic brand is the main driving force behind Western firms disassociating themselves from sponsoring the World Cup."Clearly, FIFA has become a toxic brand," Nally said. "It has been a corrupt organization. Companies are concerned with their own image nowadays so you can understand why it (FIFA) isn't an attractive proposition."U.S. prosecutors arrested seven FIFA officials in a raid at FIFA's Swiss headquarters in May 2015, culminating in a ban from football activities for the body's former president Sepp Blatter.Nally, who worked on bringing Coca-Cola in as a sponsor for FIFA and helped establish the organization's marketing packages for the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, believes the alignment of Chinese, Russian and Middle Eastern companies shows "political decisions" have replaced decisions made on a purely commercial basis at the top of FIFA.He added that nothing can change the perception of FIFA has a "toxic brand," but did propose one solution. "FIFA will continue to be in decline and should consider a complete name change or brand image change."Article by Shafi Musaddique as posted on CNBC...
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