Ravens, Rams sign with FanDuel ahead of owners discussion

One NFL team after another continues to sign deals with daily fantasy providers, though some are waiting for marketing restrictions on the category to be eased, a topic to be discussed at this week’s NFL meetings in Arizona.

The Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams are the latest teams to sign with FanDuel, which has 16 NBA team sponsorships along with an equity arrangement/sponsorship with the league. The NBA now has a seat on the fantasy provider’s board of directors.

The Rams’ deal is for three years and includes team-controlled digital and traditional media buys. Within the Edward Jones Dome, each Rams first down will be identified as a FanDuel First Down, via the team’s 360-degree LED signage.

Other NFL team sources tell us that still more NFL clubs have completed or signed deals with daily fantasy providers but are delaying announcing or finalizing them in deference to this week’s gathering of NFL owners. At those meetings, owners will consider a recommendation that would put marketing restrictions on daily fantasy at parity with those governing gambling casinos, a category in which NFL restrictions were eased in 2012 and, again, last year.

If adopted, that would allow daily fantasy brands to name clubs or other areas at NFL stadiums and buy signage within the stadium bowl as long as it is not visible on TV. A league deal in the category is still not under consideration, we’re told. However, we’re wondering if discussion of club regulations might prompt a change there as well.

ALIVE AND KICKING: A reorganization at sports and entertainment consultancy GroupM Entertainment & Sports Partnerships had many in the agency world speculating on the future of the experiential shop that services GroupM’s network of media-buying agencies, including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare. However, GroupM ESP Chief Executive Bryce Townsend said reports of the agency’s demise are unfounded, adding that the group was both hiring new positions and looking to grow through acquisition this year.

Under a corporate reorg, around 30 of ESP’s approximate 40-person workforce are being embedded within the GroupM agency that services their main client.

“The thought here is that will make us closer to clients, the planning process and drive revenue potential,” Townsend said.

ESP will continue, headed by Townsend, as a stand-alone centralized shop specializing in negotiation and activation. ‘That will allow us [ESP] to work with non-GroupM clients and build out our activation and experiential capabilities, which will be driven by acquisitions on our part,” he said.

Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, who led the NFL in catches and reception yardage last season, has signed to endorse Glukos, a sports nutrition brand launching next month that will be sold in beverage, powder, gel and bar forms.

Glukos is positioning itself as an all-natural alternative to the likes of Gatorade. The launch comes after 12 years of development and research and is being orchestrated by some former Nike marketers: former product footwear manager Mark Jensen, who founded Glukos; and Mick McConnick, former national
sales manager at Nike, now Glukos CEO. Joe Urzetta, vice president of sales, is another former Nike exec.

Brown will be used in point-of-sale and digital ads and possibly on packaging. More importantly, Glukos will debut in “several hundred doors” within the specialty retail channels in which it is launching: sporting goods, running, outdoors, cycling, golf and vitamin retailers. Glukos has purchase commitments at Dick’s Sporting Goods and PGA Tour Superstore locations.

As for competing against the industry heavyweight that made sports drinks an endemic category?

“Gatorade doesn’t have much distribution where we’re going to be selling, so we think we can make some noise within the performance food and drink market,” said McCormick, who sees it competing with both sports drinks and energy drinks. Glukos bars will have a suggested price of $2.50, as will24-ounce bottles.

Looking to this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada, Glukos is pursuing an endorser within women’s soccer as well as the NBA, marathoners and ultra-marathoners.

PEPSI PITCH: Industry sources tell us there won’t be a national TV ad backing Pepsi’s ongoing sponsorship with Major League Baseball. Instead, Pepsi has copied a page from its NFL playbook and executed player deals allowing photo shoots with players in 12 MLB markets.

The players include New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances and shortstop Didi Gregorius; Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon; and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

SAYING YES TO MLS: Relative to most domestic sports programming, there aren’t many advertising availabilities in soccer broadcasts. What inventory there is for the new NYCFC MLS club during its 20-game YES Network broadcast schedule has been sold.

“You never want to turn away business, so let’s call it a technical sellout,” said Howard Levinson, YES Network senior vice president of ad sales, adding that none of the NYCFC buys were tied to New York Yankees or Brooklyn Nets ad packages. Advertisers include Ford, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Etihad AiiWays, which also sponsors the NYCFC jerseys; Advocare, which markets nutrition, weight- loss, energy and sports performance products; Empire City Casino; and the New York State Lottery.

All get 30-second-spots, clock wraps, billboards and enhancements.

Etihad is presenting sponsor of the broadcasts, while AdvoCare is title sponsor of the postgame show.

COMINGS & GOINGS: Former NFLer Ron Furman joins Reed Bergman’s Playbook Inc. The agency is well-established in talent representation with the likes of Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen but now looks to broaden its corporate consulting practice. Furman, also a veteran of NBC Sports Sales, joins Playbook as managing director of content programming and sponsorship. “Every brand is looking for how to connect sponsorship and turn it into content or programming. That will be our sweet spot,” Furman said…. Dave Lafrennie moves from director to senior director of corporate sponsorships at the Symetra Tour, Lafrennie, who helped add 15 new tournaments to the LPGA’s developmental golf tour over the past three years, has also worked at the NBA and The Hartford.