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How Inclusion, Jen Welter and Quavo Propelled Adidas’ Super Bowl Activations

Adidas went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and made women a priority during its stop in Atlanta during the lead up to the Super Bowl.

Jeff Eisenband

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Photo credit: Adidas

Adidas’ Super Bowl Week didn’t start with a party. It didn’t start with a product activation or with a spokesman navigating Radio Row.

Instead, it began at the National Center for Civil and Humans, smack in between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the start Black History Month.

Adidas helped support two panels at the museum, both hosted by Outsports founder Cyd Zeigler. The first explored how sports organizations, corporations, nonprofits and athletes can build inclusive environments in professional sports and included Adidas North America President Zion Armstrong, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis and former NFL player Esera Tuaolo.

The second focused more on the NFL and the LGBTQ community with Falcons Assistant GM Scott Pioli, Vikings Vice President of Legal and Social Karin Nelson, 49ers Assistant Coach Katie Sowers and NBC Sports’ Peter King.

READ MORE: How a New Partnership Involving Tacos Is Kicking Off Hype for Super Bowl LVI

Behind the panelists stood images of civil rights legends Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King — along with Adidas logos. In the evening, Adidas supported Tuaolo’s second annual inclusion party.

“It’s events like these that help raise awareness, create dialogue and determine action to help our brand, consumers and society to conquer problems that still exist,” says Jeff McGillis, vice president of Adidas U.S. Sports.

These events did not sell Adidas apparel, but instead, during the most scrutinized sports media week of the year, gave Adidas an identity.

In a similar manner, Adidas magnified a group of women consistently overlooked: football players. On Saturday morning, the brand partnered with Jen Welter to host a football camp for girls. Welter made waves in 2015 when she became the first woman to coach in the NFL, serving as a coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals during training camp and the preseason. This past December, Welter was named as a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends in the Alliance of American Football’s inaugural season.

While Welter ran the camp, Adidas also announced a multi-year partnership with Welter. As part of the deal, she will also co-host camps for underprivileged kids in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and Dallas.

But it isn’t just about running camps. The partnership with Welter is meant to break new ground. Welter will help “explore new ways to increase access to the sport for young girls, including utilizing the camps to secure digital data from female athletes to help inform the future creation of Adidas women’s products.”

“As a brand, we believe that through sport, we have the opportunity to empower and change the lives of young girls, and together, we want everyone to have equal access to football,” McGillis says. “Our goal is to inspire women and help them perform better on the field while creating a product specifically designed for the elite performance of female athletes. Working with Jen helps achieve that mission.”

Adidas, which launched its “She Breaks Barriers” campaign in December, showed off the hard evidence during Super Bowl Week with a one-of-one custom pair of “Adidas Made for Jen Welter” (AM4JM), the first women’s football cleat digitally created at SPEEDFACTORY USA in Atlanta.

Adidas has already come out with women’s-specific soccer cleat models, and the football equivalent might be on the way. Atlanta makes sense as a setting to launch such a concept as girls flag football took a leap this past year. The Atlanta Falcons and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation helped establish an experimental flag football season this year among Gwinnett County Schools. The final two games of the season took place the Thursday night before the Super Bowl inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

From an activation perspective, Adidas, as it has in past Super Bowl Weeks, created its own VIP lounge outside of the main hoopla of the Super Bowl Media Center and Radio Row. Adidas football stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Von Miller, Dak Prescott and JuJu Smith-Schuster were among those who made appearances. But the lounge also hosted Aaron Judge and another notable non-football-playing Adidas partner.

READ MORE: Inside the Revenue Generation and Marketing Frenzy of a Super Bowl

Quavo was a fixture of Adidas’ Super Bowl Week, showing up at events and wearing Adidas gear. He also starred in Adidas’ “Only in Atlanta” digital video series, featuring the rapper and Adidas’ cast of NFL stars. With the Super Bowl in Atlanta, Adidas had arguably the city’s most recognizable modern star on its programming.

“Seeing the looks on the local high school players’ faces at [our] 7v7 football tourney when Quavo and Alvin Kamara walked in was priceless,” McGillis says. “It’s moments like that which really put things in perspective during the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII.”

Adidas’ most notable Super Bowl activation featured its partnership with Japanese lifestyle brand BAPE (A Bathing Ape). BAPE’s unique camouflage design was repurposed on adidas football footwear, apparel and equipment, providing a streetwear look between the lines. Adidas and BAPE launched the line at an Atlanta pop-up on Feb. 1, with the collection going live online and in stores on Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl.

While Adidas bounced around with feel-good stories and product launches in Atlanta, McGillis reiterates the theme many apparel brands keep pushing as of late.

“For us, Super Bowl week was all about creating the unexpected,” he says. “#CreatorsUnite in Atlanta for Adidas. We brought the best in sport and culture together to cement our position as the ‘Creator Brand.’”

Innovation and progress — that was the name of the game for Adidas in Atlanta this year.

Jeff Eisenband is a broadcaster and writer based in New York City. He previously served as senior editor of ThePostGame and has contributed to the NBA 2K League, NBA Twitch channel, DraftKings, Tennis Hall of Fame, Golfweek, Big Ten Network, Cheddar and Heads Up Daily. A graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Jeff truly believes Northwestern will win national championships in football and basketball.

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NHL Keeps Running On Dunkin’ With New Deal

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership.

Ian Thomas

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NHL Dunkin' Deal
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Dunkin’ has signed a multi-year extension of its deal with the NHL, continuing its position as the official coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich of the league in the U.S.

The deal, expected to be announced tonight prior to game five of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston, marks the twelfth major partner that the NHL has signed or renewed its deal with in recent months.

Dunkin’ became an NHL league-level sponsor in 2017, which was the company’s first-ever national sports league partnership. Over the course of the last two seasons, the partnership has seen Dunkin’ become one of the NHL’s most active corporate sponsors in terms of its presence at major NHL events, partnerships with local teams, marketing campaigns and other fan-facing efforts.

READ MORE: Following NBA’s Lead, NHL Taps Massive Chinese Market for Fans

NHL Group Vice President of Partnership Marketing Evin Dobson said that since becoming a sponsor, Dunkin’ has ranked at the top or in the top three of the league’s internal metrics regarding fan awareness or engagement of its partners.

Dunkin’ has been front and center this Stanley Cup Final as well, as its national advertising campaign starring Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has been heavily featured during NBC’s television coverage of the playoffs. The campaign was created by BBDO Worldwide, which was named Dunkin’s new agency of record in April 2018.

“When you have an advertising campaign that even the broadcast talent is talking about on-air, you know you’re creating great fan engagement with what you’re doing,” Dobson said.

Tom Manchester, Dunkin’ U.S. senior vice president of integrated marketing, said much of the deal with the league will be similar to how its current deal is structured – it will continue to hold exclusive rights in those U.S. categories, it will activate around the partnership at NHL league events and it will have a presence across broadcast, digital and social media channels throughout the season, which includes a multi-million dollar partnership with NBC Sports for custom in-game features during games. Dunkin’ will also activate alongside the NHL’s esports tournament, the NHL Gaming World Championship, which will hold its final in Las Vegas later this month.

However, the new deal will see Dunkin’ adding two new local team partnerships in the deal, with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Vegas Golden Knights. Dunkin’ now has 15 NHL team-level deals.

READ MORE: NHL Turns to Corner Ice Placements to Grow On-Ice Ad Revenue

Dunkin’ will also launch a new activation around the league deal ahead of next season, Manchester said, declining to comment further as those plans have only just started.

“Over these last two years, the idea that coffee and espresso is a big part of the hockey world and hockey family’s lives has only been reinforced for us,” Manchester said.

Dunkin’s NHL deal also serves as “the centerpiece” of that outreach to hockey families, Manchester said.

In addition to its league-level NHL deal in 2017, Dunkin’ has also made additional investments into hockey, signing a deal with USA Hockey in 2016 as well as the NWHL in 2015, becoming the women’s league first corporate sponsor.

While both of those deals have since lapsed, Manchester said that on the NWHL front, the company is in talks with the league about renewing it. He noted that Dunkin’ views “women’s hockey as just as important as men’s.”

However, Dunkin’ is not planning on more broadly renewing its partnership with the U.S. governing body. Manchester said that while Dunkin’ had activated heavily around the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and players like Meghan Duggan during the 2018 Winter Olympics, it had nothing in place with USA Hockey at the moment – although he said Dunkin’ could potentially do something around the team or its players heading into the next Olympic cycle in 2022.

Both Dobson and Manchester declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, other to say the multi-year deal’s investment level is in line with the previous deal. Fenway Sports Management, who is Dunkin’s sports marketing agency of record, negotiated the deal on behalf of the company.

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Concacaf Unveils First-Ever Women’s Soccer Plan

In August, Concacaf appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

Ian Thomas

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Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Concacaf has rolled out its first-ever strategic plan to grow and develop the game of women’s soccer.

In August, the confederation appointed its first-ever head of women’s football – former Canadian women’s national team player Karina LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, who presented the plan in Paris this week to all confederation’s 41 members that includes all of the soccer federations across North and Central America and the Caribbean, said that even with two of the top five ranked women’s soccer teams globally coming from this region in the U.S. and Canadian national teams, there is still an opportunity to do even better.

“The mission we’ve set out on is to improve the lives of women and girls throughout our region through the sport,” LeBlanc said. “We need to change perceptions, grow participation and build a sustainable foundation so that we can do just that.”

Concacaf has designed its strategy to grow the sport of women’s soccer around three main pillars – communicating the importance of women’s soccer and advocating for key issues affecting women, development of the sport and creating pathways to develop and empower players both on and off the field, and through commercial means that will build a self-sustainable growth model for the sport.

LeBlanc said Concacaf’s vision for growing the game somewhat mirrors FIFA’s, who launched its own first-ever global strategy for women’s soccer in October. FIFA is holding a two-day women’s soccer summit in Paris, featuring executives and federation officials from across the globe aiming to “make the most of this new era of women’s football,” which FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in his opening remarks at the summit on Wednesday morning.

Other goals for 2019 set by Concacaf include leveraging the hopeful success of the region’s national teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, creating a women’s coaching mentorship program and develop a commercial strategy around the confederation’s women’s soccer brand, which is called Concacaf W.

“We believe we can hit some of these targets very quickly, but it was important to create something like this plan so that everyone is on the same page,” LeBlanc said. “We all agree it is critical that we create growth and opportunity for women in the sport.”

LeBlanc said some of the long term goals include creating new women’s soccer competitions across the region, assisting in the creation of women’s soccer-specific digital and social channels for all the federations to help inspire fans, and encouraging the launch of more women’s clubs across the region.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

“From our standpoint, we are looking at ways to influence clubs to take a leap of faith and if they already have a men’s team, to also have a women’s team,” LeBlanc said. “Our goal is to change the mindset that women’s football is just a cause.

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MLSPA and REP Worldwide Teaming Up to Promote MLS Players

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

Ian Thomas

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MLS players group licensing rights
Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association has taken back control of the MLS players’ group licensing rights from the league, according to industry sources, signing a new agreement with REP Worldwide to serve as the exclusive partner and strategic advisor for those rights.

The PA had reclaimed those group licensing rights in the league’s first CBA in 2004, but had since licensed them back directly to the league. In the past, MLS has marketed the rights for both the league and the PA, with proceeds of licensing deals split on a percentage basis that varied by category. Now – the PA will take a more direct management in the marketing and administration of those rights, with REP Worldwide as its exclusive partner and advisor.

REP Worldwide – an acronym for Representing Every Player – was launched in 2017 as a first-of-its-kind group licensing representation business offering licensing and brand management services to athlete-driven sports properties. The NFLPA is the majority shareholder of the company, working in collaboration with its founding partners the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA).

This new partnership will see REP Worldwide structure and manage MLSPA licensing partnerships on behalf of the MLS player pool across categories that include digital, apparel, experiential and hard goods, which typically includes things like toys and sports equipment. those MLS group licensing rights cover instances where four or more players appear on a single product or within a brand or product line. That can include the usage of their names, numbers and likenesses, but not team names or logos – rights held by the league.

READ MORE: Budweiser Signs On as Presenting Partner of Women’s International Champions Cup

The aim for the MLSPA is that this new arrangement will not only open new revenue for the MLS player pool, but also serve as a brand builder for all of the players, collectively and individually.

All of the other player associations in the major North American professional sports have control over their group licensing rights, with the NBPA being the last to do so in 2017.

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