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Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

Drake Is the Toronto Raptors’ New Brand Ambassador


Looks like Drizzy of “YOLO” had FOMO on repping brands’ mojo.

Today the Toronto Raptors announced that proud Canuck Drake, better known as “that kid in the wheelchair on Degrassi“, would be the team’s new “global ambassador” as part of a rebranding campaign after they finished last season at 14 games under .500.

This sort of stunt didn’t work so well for Alicia Keys at Blackberry or Justin Timberlake at Bud Light, but there’s no question that Beyoncé  and Jay-Z earned quite a few media mentions for Pepsi, Samsung and the Brooklyn Nets. Also: Drake is a reliable presence at games who’s been known to hang out with LeBron, so it’s a more natural fit than, say, Will.I.Am and Intel.

Now what will Drake do, exactly?

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StubHub’s Goal is to Score with Fans, Says CMO Ray Elias

Whether you’re a “social fan” actively networking, a “fanatic” attending every game, or a “premium fan” perched in front-row seats, StubHub serves the preferences of all three segments, said CMO Ray Elias. He spoke at The Incite Summit in New York on Wednesday about the brand’s customer service, social media and mobile efforts.

“Tickets are scarce, perishable goods, and StubHub manages the secondary ticket marketplace. We focus on the buyer and seller experience and the intersection of supply and demand”, Elias said. The market has evolved, and he identified key elements behind StubHub’s success.

Customer Service: Fans of entertainment and sports events didn’t used to receive the red carpet treatment. “We recognized the frustrations consumers were experiencing with ticket purchases”, Elias explained. “Traditionally the process wasn’t fan-friendly, so we applied the customer service models you’d find with Nordstrom and Zappos.”

A core issue StubHub regularly deals with relates to the authenticity of tickets. Elias said they need to deliver on the proposition that “our tickets are real and the fans will be able to get in”. He acknowledged that’s not so easy to convey from a marketing perspective. (Although he didn’t discuss their “Ticket Oakad campaign, it offers a reassuring presence, and according to a Forbes article, the ads have improved key brand perceptions).

Customer service plays a critical role in delivering on the brand’s promise, and Elias described StubHub’s service as ‘heroic’. “We have local reps on the ground, and ‘Make it Right’ customer service” to resolve on-site issues. “We’ve empowered fans, and that has fueled our growth.”

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ESPN PR Wants You to Know Its Ratings Are Just Fine

This summer, Fox apparently realized that Americans really like to watch sports.

Well, they did launch Fox Sports 1 on August 17, almost exactly a month after media watchers began discussing ESPN‘s 32% ratings drop. The idea was that, now that ESPN’s domination of the American sports market appeared to be receding, upstarts like FS1 could fill in the blanks.

ESPN’s PR team isn’t having any of that. In July they aggressively followed ratings reports by explaining that the decline was all due to a shorter NBA season (31 fewer games). We’re not sure exactly how accurate that claim is, but the team doesn’t plan to let Fox capture any good publicity: yesterday the network posted and distributed a press release noting that viewership has risen 13% since August 17—the very day that Fox Sports 1 made its debut. Subtle? We think not.

The rest of the release is mostly statistics, but the message is clear: we see you, but you’re never going to catch us.

In other Misleading Press Releases news, Fox’s news network announced its new prime-time lineup with a release touting its status as “the most trusted television news source in the country”. This might be all well and good, but the Fox PR team neglected to mention that it’s also the least trusted news source and that distrust ratings are higher than trust ratings among the general public. So the world keeps on spinning…

Was Eminem’s ESPN Appearance Really That Strange?

Eminem made an appearance on ESPN’s Saturday Night Football halftime show that’s being called “puzzling” and “bizarre,” but to our eyes, it looks totally fine.

In a weird promotional attempt, Eminem (or Marshall Mathers, as ESPN preferred to call him), stopped by the show to talk with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit about his new album, tease the video for the song “Berserk,” and talk about the Detroit Lions. But the rapper started off by giving a kind of hilarious blank stare. Right after the musical clip aired, he admitted that live TV kind of freaks him out.

I’m not an avid football watcher (the Super Bowl is about it for me) so I’m not sure how often a musical guest appears on this show. But just the shot of the three men standing in a row indicates that there are different styles at play here, which could have also enhanced the quirkiness of the interview.
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NFL Reaches $765 Million Settlement with Former Players in Concussion Case

Breaking news: the National Football League‘s notorious concussion case headache is over—for now. The league reached a $765 million settlement in the class action suit filed by 4500 former players who claimed that they were misled about the toll a (brief, ridiculously profitable) football career would take on one’s mental and physical health.

Our big conclusion: this is more of a a PR fail than a monetary fail. Given the fact that the league brought in at least $10 billion in profits last year, looks poised to reach $25 billion within the next five years and miraculously retains its status as a non-profit organization, this is a big but completely manageable hit—each player will get just under $200K, which is less than what most would earn playing a single game. Oh, and we just learned that the freaking NFL, which is one of the most successful businesses in the world, doesn’t have to pay taxes. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.


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John McEnroe Holds Court on Past Playing Controversies and Time Broadcasting

As a tennis champion renowned for disputing line calls, John McEnroe also draws a sharp line between his time playing and commentating. “I’ve been broadcasting now for 20 years and haven’t used a bad word yet in the booth. But it was harder to control myself on the court.”

McEnroe looks back fondly on his playing days, recalling his rivals’ colorful personalities and varied playing styles. He preferred having fewer on-court rules and the freedom of not touring with a big entourage as players do now. He’s come to terms with his former bad-boy reputation, but his biggest regret isn’t his tirades, it’s not learning another language. And don’t even get him started on his career commentating: he loves it, immersing himself in the game of tennis and in the players’ highs and lows.

McEnroe discussed a range of tennis topics at a TimesTalks event with New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman on Tuesday. They also showed the audience an amusing video of “Johnny Mac” in his heyday, with his trademark headband and curly hair, berating the umpires.

Below are selected interview highlights and comments from McEnroe.

Playing experience: McEnroe’s line call challenges may have sparked criticism, but he had a good eye, and his actions may have eventually led to the player challenge system in place now. But even though fellow tennis star Arthur Ashe used to tell him, “All the calls would even out”, McEnroe clearly didn’t subscribe to that notion:

“I did a terrible job of composing myself. I was a spoiled brat from Long Island who benefitted from the energy of New York. I got a lot of publicity but it steamrolled. Event organizers weren’t used to that kind of behavior, so later they tightened the rules. Sometimes my negativity worked to my advantage, and early in my career it got me going. But you need to understand that you’re not just fighting opponents, you’re also fighting yourself.”

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Tim Tebow, (Charlie Sheen), Personal Branding and Public Relations

PR industry experts are inundated with columns and advice about how clients should manage their personal brands. Much of that input is common sense: don’t get coked up and crash your Porsche, don’t beat your girlfriend and land in jail, don’t get drunk and start tweeting. Most of the public is able to avoid these situations. (Thanks, moms.)

Nevertheless, brands love spokespeople. Brands need spokespeople to provide that human element that connects with the complex psychology that is consumer behavior. From Donald Trump to Eva Longoria, personal branding is big business, and a dangerous one, because all humans are fallible. But if there were ever a control in the experiment of personal branding, it would be Tim Tebow. The guy is as clean as a bag of cotton balls.

In fact, Tim Tebow’s personal brand is so sterling that even without a job—he has yet to be picked up by an NFL team after being dropped by the New York Jets—his sponsors aren’t worried at all. ESPN, Nike, TiVo, FRS, Fox Sports and Jockey are all on board with whatever happens next in his career, even if it doesn’t include football. Those brands are even lining up to retain his services after he hangs up his cleats. That’s personal branding done well. But there is more to successful personal branding than avoiding mug shots and visiting children in the hospital.

There is authenticity. Tim Tebow lives according to the values he espouses regardless of what his handlers, agents and PR people do. Tim Tebow runs the Tim Tebow show (which is his life), and his fans adore him for it. In a parallel universe, Charlie Sheen fans feel the same way about his personal brand. For some reason, many PR experts struggle with this idea of authenticity. So do young celebrities like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus; it’s hard to be authentic when you are still wrestling with who you are and the trappings of becoming an adult. Read more

Did Rutgers Address Its ‘Bully Coach’ Scandal Correctly?

Full confession: we don’t follow college sports. But of course we haven’t been able to avoid the story of Rutgers coach Mike Rice, who lost his job after starring in a video that should have been labeled “Wow, I’m a jackass”:

When officials in the school’s sports department first saw the video last year, they suspended and fined the coach. But as soon as it hit ESPN, the public registered its discontent and the school found itself in full crisis mode. Rutgers decided to fire Rice, but that was hardly the end of the story: yesterday we learned that the school owed him a cool $100K in severance pay due to the fact that it allowed him to complete the season rather than letting him go in December when the tapes surfaced. Administrators were understandably irritated by this news, and this morning we read that the school has also dismissed athletic director Tim Pernetti, the guy who made the initial decision to keep Rice on.

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10 Trends in Marketing to Latinos

The Republican Party isn’t the only organization with a growing interest in the Hispanic market. Most companies have intensified their focus on this increasingly influential segment, ranging from early adopter brands to those now playing catch-up. The Advertising Research Foundation spotlighted this hot topic by hosting multiple Hispanic market panels at their Re:think conference this week in New York.

As Ramon Pineda, SVP and general manager at Univision said, “The U.S. Hispanic market is in our backyard and you don’t have to travel to sell it. There are no issues with tariffs, imports or other regulations” that one encounters overseas. He cited the following stats and trends:

1. Population growth: The U.S. Hispanic population has grown from 9.1 million in 1970 to 54.6 million now, increasing from less than 5% of the U.S. population to 17% in that timeframe.

2. More barometers now measure Hispanic influence: , Pineda said, “In order for the Hispanic market to be perceived as valuable we needed empirical data, otherwise it was as if we didn’t exist”. Hispanic spending power in the U.S. has increased from less than $500 billion in 2000 to $1.2 trillion in 2012.

3. Expansion beyond the usual cities: The biggest U.S. Hispanic markets are intuitive, namely Los Angeles, New York, Miami and parts of Texas and Arizona. Now other cities are also notable, including Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Raleigh and Detroit (the singer Rodriguez’s hometown). Suburbanization is also becoming more prevalent.

4. Not a homogenous market: Pineda cautioned that the U.S. Hispanic market isn’t one-dimensional. Latinos come from a variety of countries and income groups.

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Katie Couric Scores Manti Te’o Interview (They Share a Publicist, BTW)

Katie Couric Manti Te'o InterviewSo Manti Te’o, who most Americans believe to be a big old liar, visited Katie Couric‘s office for his first official post-scandal interview, set to air tomorrow. While we’re interested in the fact that he admitted to “briefly” lying about the fake dead girlfriend hoax for six weeks after learning that he’d been duped (yeah right), we’d like to examine the “Inside PR” aspects of the story.

We love Katie and all, but no one would call her a sports journalist–and we don’t feel like the scandal is quite big enough to justify a trip to Oprah-land (though the Te’o family apparently considered Oprah and Dr. Phil before settling for Couric). So how did she score this top interview? Well, the fact that the two parties share a publicist certainly didn’t hurt. That’s right–Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies (MediaBeat interview after the jump) now performs crisis comms/damage control duties for both Couric and Te’o, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Te’o chose Couric over both Oprah and ESPN.

Is this standard operating procedure? Or does it raise even more questions about the players involved in this sordid tale?

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