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I never believed it when it came out, the story about how Dale Earnhardt Jr’s leaving of Dale Earnhardt Inc. actually led to a bump in No. 8 Budweiser merchandise sales. I knew that when the truth emerged, we’d find out that No. 8 Dale stuff was getting hammered as fans started to believe that his number and sponsor might change. Well, we now have that answer.
I never, ever thought I would write that headline. But I just did. The University of Michigan has signed an eight-year deal, worth a $7.5 million a year with the three stripers. Nike bowing out of the game is either an indication that Nike doesn’t think Michigan is what it once was--although football has had three 10+ win seasons in five years, the basketball team hasn’t made it to the title game in 14 years and hasn’t even made the NCAA Tournament in nine years. Or
Venus Williams might have won more than $1.3 million for winning Wimbledon on Saturday, but she'll pick up an additional check from the folks at Reebok. The company signed Williams to the largest endorsement contract in women's sports history in December 2000, but due to the on again, off again nature of her play the company chose not to renew Williams after the three-year deal expired. But she still gets paid to wear the Reebok brand even though she's not technically pitched on the company's roster of athletes.
This week, Pepsi is expected to give way to Coke as the official beverage of most of NASCAR’s tracks and speculation is that Pepsi will be putting some of the money they would have used for the tracks, to getting its Mountain Dew brand on Dale Earnhardt Jr's, racing car hood next year. If that trade-off really happens, it’s a cinch for Pepsi and a dumb move for Coke. The bottom line is people aren’t fans of tracks or fans of the organization itself (NASCAR).
I'm here in Paris on vacation, but on my way to dinner with my girlfriend Cortney, I couldn't help but notice the rock star reception outside of the Park Hyatt Vendrome in Paris. There were police barricades and people screaming and taking photographs as we walked by at 8 p.m. local time tonight. Just as we walked by a bus pulled away with the important people inside.
Tomorrow, the NBC Universal Family brings us Live Earth--with a three hour primetime special on NBC, plus 18 hours of coverage of Bravo and seven hours on our very own CNBC. Plus coverage on all sorts of other channels in the family--including Telemundo, Mun2, Universal HD, and the Sundance Channel. A sign of the power of the Live Earth message, NBC has attracted some top-notch (huge and influential) advertisers--General Motors, Apple, and American Express.
With Roger Federer on the cusp of his record-tying fifth straight Wimbledon, Nike is for the first time putting him in a television advertisement. It's not a sales pitch, rather it's a message from Nike's biggest endorser Tiger Woods. In what could be billed as Roger Federer's version of the famous "Hello World" spot that launched Tiger's relationship with the brand in 1996, this commercial includes previously unseen footage and images from Federer's childhood and takes the viewer up to Federer's rise to the top with Woods narrating.
He's the man behind the brand with a face and name as famous as his red carpet clients. French-born Frederic Fekkai built an American empire of hair salons. Now after 18 years in the salon business, Fekkai wants to take his name brand into the global luxury market. "We think that in the next 2 years we will have 20 salons open," Frederic told me at his new Soho Salon on West Broadway in Manhattan.
As far as the WWE is concerned, Chris Benoit never existed. That's because they've taken the wrestler who killed his wife and son before killing himself off their Web site. A page that used to be his bio reverts to the current front page of the Web site, as does every major article written on his successes. Strangely, out of all the clicking I did Sunday night, the WWE still has its Benoit tribute piece up on the site. They've also pulled all the Benoit merchandise off the site. When you search for Chris Benoit on WWEShop.com, it comes up discontinued.
A day later I'm handing out my awards from the 2007 NBA Draft. Let's get right to it. Biggest Marketing Loser: Yi Jianlian to Milwaukee. Right behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant this guy qualified as the third most marketable guy in the draft because of the size of the market in China. Throw that out the door now. Milwaukee is pretty much the absolute worst city he could be in since there's nothing close to a Chinese market in Milwaukee.
Let's just say there was probably some champagne passed around in the Silna family yesterday. That's because the Silna brothers, Ozzie and Dan, learned that they'll be paid some $ 136 million over the next eight years. The checks will be coming from the Denver Nuggets, the San Antonio Spurs, the New Jersey Nets and the Indiana Pacers.
Yankees fans are pretty angry at their wasted $40 million investment on pitcher Carl Pavano. But think about this. Without Pavano, many of us would have never heard of Gia Allemand. The two were engaged but broke up in March. With those Maxim photos out this month--she first appeared as a “Hometown Hottie” in Maxim while she was with Pavano--our friend Gia should know she should probably be charging a little more for those autographs on her official Web site. A 24-by-36 poster of her is $9.95. An autographed one? Just five dollars more ($14.95). Now that's a bargain, folks.
It has been a week since I questioned whether Vince McMahon’s fake death could lead to shareholder lawsuits since McMahon is so material to the organization’s business. Last Tuesday, the WWE said they had not received any calls from those holding WWE stock and then promptly named me a suspect in the death of “Mr. McMahon,” who they said was the character played by Vince McMahon. Well, this morning I walked into the office and received this statement in my e-mail box from the WWE...
Here’s the number one question I always get: Who’s the best endorser in sports? And the right answer is, there isn’t one. What people have to remember is that endorsements are a partnership and if the product doesn’t make sense with the athlete, then it doesn’t work. There’s also an economic threshold to endorsements that is never talked about. Athletes can affect purchasing decision, but only to a certain extent.
Well folks, I’ve never thought I’d utter this phrase: I am a murder suspect. But, truth be told, I apparently am. This according to World Wrestling Entertainment, who gave me this statement when I called them yesterday to answer whether they were irresponsible in issuing a news release that “Mr. McMahon” was “presumed dead” after his limo was blown up last Monday. Here’s what they sent me:
When the XFL blimp crashed into an Oakland waterfront restaurant in Jan. 2001, I had written it off as some foreboding accident. In the end, it might have been the best $2.5 million (the cost of the damage) World Wrestling Entertainment--and perhaps its partner, NBC--spent. But when you look a little bit deeper, it's pretty easy to understand. One, there was somehow a student pilot up there. I've heard of student drivers in cars, but not in planes and blimps. Secondly, it was the WWE for god sakes.
Many of you know of Allison Stokke by now. She's the 18-year-old high school pole vaulter who became an Internet phelnomenon after Matt Ufford at the popular blog With Leather. posted her picture. Today, this high schooler has 840,000 Google hits -- the "Alison" Stokke misspelling has 16,500 hits! -- and of course a "Allison Stokke Fans" MySpace page.
The man they call "The Duck," Angel Cabrera, was one of two players who finished under par after the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday. But oddsmakers didn't respect the 37-year-old, who had a previous U.S. Open high of a seventh place finish in 2001 and missed three of seven cuts in PGA Tour events this year. That's why on Friday morning, if you had a hunch for Cabrera, you could have dropped $100 to won north of $2,500 on Sunday. Wanted to wait until Sunday morning?
“I just decided that I should do something pretty creative in trying to earn as much money as possible…and I just woke up one morning and had the idea.” That's California homeowner Darren Shuster talking about how he woke up with a new vision of his home: house as billboard. I’m not kidding. We saw the painters. He’s literally selling ad space on his 3-bedroom ranch.
Bubba Watson might be on his way to becoming a marketing star. The 28-year-old who hasn't won in his year and a half on the PGA Tour or even on the Nationwide Tour, seems like he's at least on the cusp of winning. He has four Top 10 finishes and looked good today here at Oakmont, firing an even 70.