Big Papi keeps the successes coming in retirement

Amid a judging glut for our Sports Business Awards, we were reminded how fine the line is and always will be between winning and placing. Our annual competition is an exercise declaring that Company X is #1. Yet when people ask us at other times to recommend an agency above all others, we normally first ask about the strategy, tactics and properties that the client has or could obtain. — then we give them a list of three or four stores. There’s a lot of talent there.

“The human side of business came out of marketing. Building brands is about making them human and personal. Today, I guess agencies don’t have time to make brands have a personal connection” — The late Bill Backer, an adman responsible for memorable slogans, including “Great taste, less filling” for Miller Lite and the “I’d like to buy the world a coke” ad.

Six years after his retirement and 11 weeks before his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, David Ortiz continues to receive hits. His latest mentions, via longtime marketing agent Radegen Sports Management of Alex Radetsky, sees the former Red Sox DH teaming up with Dunkin’, another New England institution, for a TV job that will be shot under shortly in Los Angeles, but aired closer to his July 24 induction date.

Another new deal will feature Ortiz in a TV commercial for the MLB sponsor’s loan deposit. This arrangement is the third for him in the increasingly fertile financial services category, as he is also contracted to fellow MLB sponsors FTX and Mastercard, for whom he has recently shot digital/social content.

A spot shot last year for Zenni Optical is also set to debut soon, along with the launch of a signature line of Ortiz eyewear. Add them to the “Ghostbusters”-themed DirecTV creative currently running with Ortiz, Randy Johnson, A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr. and you’ve got plenty of airtime for a guy who had one last at-bat in 2016.

Other offerings have Ortiz lending his name to Tabacalera El Artista cigars, which could pair well with WhistlePig’s “Piggy Back” rye, which is believed to be aged for six weeks using the wood of Ortiz’s signature bats.

Ortiz appears alongside A-Rod, Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. in latest DirecTV spots

The UFC continues to create unique ways to direct sponsor money into its expanding coffers. In the case of his latest sponsorship, which one source said was a three-year deal reaching seven figures a year, GameDay Ready Recovery Zone’s CONOCB2 topicals get the new designation of Official Painkillers of the UFC and the UFC Performance Institute.

Starting with this weekend’s UFC 274 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, GameDay Ready integrates into live events, custom content, social and digital media. UFC fighters will also be used as pitchers. The deal marks the extension of UFC rights granted in February, when GameDay won the rights to use its red light therapy to help UFC athletes recover during training. So far, GameDay Ready products are only available direct-to-consumer in the US market.

“A lot of our fans became fans because they used MMA for training,” said UFC Senior Vice President/Global Partnerships Paul Asencio. “That’s why it’s a good choice and why the deal works.” UFC and GameDay Ready will team up on a research program studying the effect of its products on UFC athletes in training.

The UFC also signed a major sponsorship deal in 2021 with CBD brand Love Hemp, whose products are also widely used for pain relief (as well as for anxiety and as a sleep aid). As these substances become more widely used and accepted, what this deal means is the first category of cannabinoid dissection in the ever-divisive sponsorship industry.

A point of differentiation? GameDay Ready Recovery’s patent-pending CONOCB2 uses conolidine to stimulate natural endocannabinoids in the body and opioid receptors in the brain. CBDs use non-psychoactive cannabinoids to accomplish much the same thing.

GameDay Ready integrates into live events starting at UFC 274 this weekend

  • In addition to Crypto.com serving as the title sponsor for this weekend’s Miami F1 Grand Prix, founding partners include Gainbridge, Hard Rock, JP Morgan, Red Bull and MindMaze, note SBJ’s Adam Stern and Bret McCormick. Sources said SFM went into the market asking for at least seven figures a year for these positions. Verizon also came on board this week.
  • Bowl games will no longer face restrictions on their title sponsors, a move that opens up several categories that were previously not allowed by the NCAA, reports SBJ’s Michael Smith.
  • Jess Smith, Angel City FC’s chief revenue officer, told my colleague Alex Silverman that she had yet to secure deals in three of the most important categories for major sporting properties – automotive, financial services and insurance – which she attributed to the club’s focus on building genuine partnerships.
  • The Capital One All-Star Oceanfront is a one-of-a-kind beach event to be presented by MLB’s new banking sponsor around the All-Star Game July 15-17 at the Santa Monica Pier & Beach with no admission charge, reports SBJ’s Erik Bacharach.
  • Data shows that 80 advertisers combined to spend $35.1 million on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, according to information from iSpot.tv. Progressive led the way, spending $1.73 million, followed closely by IBM with $1.72 million.


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