Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Shelling It out At Daytona, NBA All-Star Game And More


Shelling It Out:
It was jarring seeing Kevin Harvick win the Daytona 500 in his Shell car. That's because I couldn't recall the last time I had seen a car with a gasoline company as a primary sponsor win a top-tier NASCAR race. I called up one of the best guys in the business, Andrew Giangola at NASCAR, to put his researchers to the test. And in a couple hours they had this back. The last time a driver won a Winston Cup/Nextel Cup race with a gasoline company as a primary sponsor was more than five years ago. It happened at Richmond on Sept. 8, 2001, when Ricky Rudd won in a Texaco car. Given how much oil and gas are involved in NASCAR, it's amazing that it's been that long of a run. Shell, which signed the deal with Richard Childress Racing last fall after being away from NASCAR for nine years, was in the position to capitalize. They already have life-sized cutouts of Harvick and merchandise at Shell locations and corporate headquarters has given some locations the chance to host the No. 29 showcar to draw a crowd. We're watching Royal Dutch Shell stock to see where it goes on Tuesday.

NBA All-Star Game Ramblings: 
Adidas spent a ton of money to make Las Vegas theirs, but what made it such a winning weekend for the company was the fact that they clearly had the hottest shoes to sell. The Gilbert Arenas lifestyle shoe, the Gil Zero Low Luckys, and the T-Mac 6 Millionaire shoes are some of the most creative shoes I've ever seen. The Gil Zeros have roulette wheels and felt on the toe box, while the Millionaires have McGrady's face on million dollar bills all over the shoe...New Balance doesn't have one NBA player endorsing their product, but they got a nice endorsement from 67-year-old referee Dick Bavetta, who was wearing the brand in his race against Charles Barkley on Saturday night...Reebok's biggest play was supposedly dunker Gerald Green, who won the Slam Dunk Contest, but besides pumping up his shoes before one of his dunks, Reebok didn't get any exposure. Why brands don't make special shoes with huge logos is beyond me. Reebok is of course owned by Adidas now... Dwyane Wade owned Las Vegas, while LeBron James presence was almost non-existent. Although we dug LeBron's gold shoes at the game, it seemed like he was even No. 2 in line behind Kobe in terms of marketing play for Nike. LeBron's biggest marketing push actually came on Monday, while people were fleeing town, as Microsoft announced the Web site,,meant to be an inspirational site for kids and teens.

Not The Brady Bunch(en):
Tom Brady didn't take every endorsement deal in the book, but he's going to be hurt in the marketing world from his out-of-wedlock baby with his former girlfriend Bridget Moynihan. For those who didn't hear, Moynihan's publicist has confirmed the actress is more than three months pregnant with the Brady baby as the New England Patriots QB makes the rounds with model Giselle Bundchen. This is the second high profile NFL quarterback to father an out-of-wedlock baby in recent months. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart's former girlfriend USC basketball player Brynn Cameron had a baby in October.

More Hardaway Troubles:
The hurt continues for Tim Hardaway. Although he has apologized countless times for his "I hate Gay people" rant, almost all his business relationships have now been severed. Now you can count the car wash that beared his name. After a local gay rights group called for a boycott of Hardaway's US 1 Finest Hand Car Wash in Florida, the name was changed (it's amazing how fast they had a new sign up!) to Grand Luxe Auto Bathe.

Bad Ad Of The Week:
Doctors who perform Lasik surgery have done well in recent years, getting free endorsements from sports stars who go under the laser to correct their vision. Dr. Ken Moadel is an example of someone who has used athletes in ads. He has used skier Bode Miller and Bernie Williams in the past and now he's using Jason Giambi. Problem is, that while in the other ads it had specifically spelled out that both Miller and Williams had their vision, these current ads with Giambi don't spell out that Giambi has ever had Lasik. "Baseball superstar Jason Giambi says Go with New York's Lasik All-Star" the ad reads. If Giambi did have the surgery, it would be a much more effective endorsement if that was spelled out. If he didn't, Moadel is not getting much from Giambi.

Kudos To RBS:
It's easy to sign athletes when they are at the top, it's harder as a sports marketer to identify athletes who will be good and actually get a good value. That's why I have to credit the folks at the Royal Bank of Scotland, who now have women's golfer Paula Creamer, men's tennis player Andy Murray and men's golfer Luke Donald in their stable. Murray won the San Jose Open for the second year in a row this weekend and he is now ranked 13th in the world. Creamer is ranked currently ranked fifth in the world and Donald is ninth in the World Golf Rankings. RBS is now tooting its own horn and good for them. In the March issue of Tennis Magazine, they have an ad with Andy Murray. The copy reads, "From 312th in 2005 to top 20 at the end of 2006, Andy Murray has raced up the rankings. RBS began sponsoring Andy Murray when he was Andy who? And why? Because we believe that success in sport, as well as business, is about spotting potential early and helping it thrive." Murray wears the RBS log on his right shirt sleeve.

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