Ultimate Fighting Championship is coming to a theater near you

Posted on Sat Mar 27 2010


How to Train Your Dragon, the latest 3-D spectacle, isn't the only entertainment rumbling at the multiplex this weekend. Ultimate Fighting Championship, for the first time, will air a live welterweight fight Saturday night in 300 AMC, Regal and other movie-theater chains via a deal with NCM Fathom. UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET. The UFC, which stages about a dozen pay-per-view events each year for cable and satellite distribution, has pummeled its young male target with marketing for the new venture. There have been trailers on 7,500 screens, e-mail blasts to half a million UFC fans, Google and Yahoo! search-engine marketing, video clips in 600 sports clubs, theater posters, college-newspaper ad buys and grassroots outreach to 500-plus mixed martial arts clubs. The pact calls for more UFC events this year with NCM Fathom, which has screened everything from operas and faith-based movies to Golden Boy Promotions' pro boxing. More info here.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Shaquille O'Neal does Muscle Milk augmented reality campaign

Posted on Fri Jan 15 2010


Muscle Milk is not only a good source for protein for your workouts, it can now make you feel like Shaquille O'Neal. (The rhyming was not intentional.) The CytoSport beverage brand is introducing a special-edition bottle that will come with an augmented reality component. The 14-ounce chocolate-flavored protein drink will contain a link on its packaging that directs consumers to a Web site featuring five virtual videos of O'Neal. So, how does it work? According to Muscle Milk, those who purchase the drink can hold the bottle and its marker code two feet from their webcam and watch O'Neal pop out of the bottle. The special-edition Muscle Milk will be available only in O'Neal's new home state of Ohio. But those of us who don't live there won't miss out on this interactive experience. You can just print the marker from MuscleMilk.com/cleveland. Hey, the company probably spent a pretty penny on this, so why not get the most out of it?

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

It's hardly worth sponsoring a fight if Brock Lesnar is involved

Posted on Tue Aug 11 2009

That Brock Lesnar, what a charmer! After he brutally beat down his smaller opponent in last month's UFC 100 in Las Vegas, trash-talked the dazed guy and flipped off the booing crowd, he dissed Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light, the event sponsor. "I'm going to go home tonight, and I'm going to drink a Coors Light. That's right, a Coors Light," he said, while looking at the Bud Light logo in the middle of the fighting octagon. "Because Bud Light won't pay me nothing." Maybe Coors Light should. Turns out Lesnar's outburst, and the coverage that followed, brought in $250,000 worth of unexpected media exposure for the brand, according to Joyce Julius Co., which tracks the value of sports sponsorships. The breakdown: major pickup from SportsCenter and other ESPN programming; 400 news stories that referenced the brewhaha; and 1,300 blog posts, including a glowing one from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (who thought it was the best speech ever). Lesnar later changed his tune and sipped a Bud Light at the post-fight press conference, saying it's all beer to him and he'll drink anything. A-B might not be quite as thrilled.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Apologize to the ladyfolk, because here comes 'Madden NFL 10'

Posted on Tue Aug 11 2009

EA Sports' Madden franchise is an instigator and an overall bad influence. For 10 years, the pre-eminent football videogame has caused fans irreparable harm. Hours have been lost trying to perfect the onside kick. Large chunks of the valuable brain space have been clogged up with blitz packages and trick plays. Egos have been bruised and confidence destroyed by close friends who have danced around the room after breaking off 62-yard game-winning runs. In past years, when the latest version of the game was released, the franchise has encouraged people to cut class, miss work and take a "Maddenoliday" to try it out. This year is no different, and EA has even gotten Wal-Mart mixed up with its bad behavior. The mass retailer has promised to roll back prices on flowers when Madden NFL 10 hits shelves on Friday, so men can apologize to their wives and spouses in advance for the week they are about to spend obsessing over the nuances of the new game. For anyone who hasn't gotten the "You only give me flowers when you've done something wrong" speech, get ready for it. And she'll be right, as you proceed to play a videogame non-stop until your eyes bleed. Damn you, Madden NFL 10.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Leroy Smith is ready to be showered with praise and adulation

Posted on Fri Jun 5 2009

Charlie Murphy, the older brother of actor Eddie Murphy, is back on the radar for what much of the blogosphere speculates is an NBA Finals campaign from Nike. In this video, Murphy—playing a character named Leroy Smith—is introduced as "the man who motivated Michael Jordan." A newscaster proclaims that when Michael Jordan is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Smith should be, too. There's an entire Web site, getyourbasketballon.com, dedicated to Smith and his feat to get inducted into the Hall of Fame for his "superhuman contributions to the game." On the site, you can view more videos, check out Smith's "Basketball On" DVD series, visit his online store (where everything happens to be sold out), play a video game and even download an iPhone app that let's you "motivize." After watching this loudmouth with an outdated fashion sense, you're left with a lasting impression and tears in your eyes from laughing so hard.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Adidas looks under the hood to discover NBA players' strengths

Posted on Thu May 21 2009

"Every brotherhood need creators and commanders." That is the message behind a new Adidas campaign honoring basketball stars Dwight Howard (the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year) and Derrick Rose (the Rookie of the Year). These two animated videos, which broke Wednesday on YouTube and AdidasBasketball.com, focus on the strengths of each player. Narrated by Chali 2Na from hip-hop group Jurassic 5, the ads describe the players as superhuman. Dwight Howard is called the "most dominant commander in the game today," thanks to his mind, his spirit, his legs and, of course, the Adidas gear that he wears. TECHFIT PowerWEB gear gives Howard "increased energy and strength," while his Adidas sneakers allow him to leap and bounce. In a similar setup, Rose is dubbed as an "explosive creator" whose strengths include TECHFIT padded undergarments that protect him form the "collisions accrued over the course of the season," the Adidas ankle-support system "proven to be five times more effective than tape" and motion technology built into his sneakers that "make him quicker than he already is, which is scary if you think about it." Both videos end with the tagline: "Impossible is nothing." But it's clear that what Adidas means is that the impossible would not be possible without its gear.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

LeBron may be a bit too excited about the playoffs in Nike ads

Posted on Mon May 18 2009

Is Nike trying to tell basketball fans something in its humorous new ads for the 2009 NBA playoffs? Let's see ... the spot features two puppets that represent an overly excited LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a very cool, calm and collected Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron circles Kobe like a hyper child looking for attention, yelling: "Postseason, Kobe Bryant, get excited! Chosen one! Ohio, baby!" Kobe monotonously brushes LeBron off, saying he is excited, as he walks into a cloud of chalk created by LeBron (a reference to the latter's tradition of rubbing chalk on his hands before each game). LeBron goes on shouting "Playoffs, baby!" and random things like "$20 Chinese food! Make some noise, Kobe! Beef and broccoli!" That's when viewers get reminded that this is indeed a Nike commercial, as LeBron's puppet is shown wearing branded sneakers. The entire time, Kobe is disinterested in what's going on—I'm assuming because he has already won three NBA championships—until he finds himself sitting in piles of chalk at the end. Meanwhile, the only thing missing from this being a perfect year for LeBron is the championship ring. Perhaps Nike is implying that a pair of good sneakers could help him get it.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Hostess willing to cough up the bucks if you can throw strikes

Posted on Thu May 7 2009


If you've lost your job, don't worry. As long as you can throw a strike (make that three, actually) on a baseball field, you can still win $1 million. That's the prize money Hostess is dangling as part of an online "Steeerike ... It Rich!" sweepstakes program, which began this week. Hostess will randomly select one consumer, after June 26, to travel to Kansas City and enjoy a moment of fame on the Kansas City Royals' baseball field at Kauffman Stadium. Throw no strikes and you get $5,000. One strike: $10,000. Two: $15,000. Three and you're outta there with a cool $1 million.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Nike lets it all hang out in new 'Bear Butte Running Club' video

Posted on Wed Apr 22 2009

Turn off the video, and it sounds like a typical boring documentary on running. But with the pictures, whoa Nellie! It's like that Saturday Night Live skit with Rob Schneider, the Sensitive Naked Man, in which the character seems oblivious to the fact that he's nude and that that might be a problem for some of us. In this Nike clip, everyone at the Bear Butte Running Club is buck naked, but no one seems to notice. Instead, they talk in a rather deadpan manner about "really getting back to basics" and "natural running." Somehow, Nike persuaded runners like David Olds and Lauren Fleshman (yes, that's her real name) to go au naturale for the sake of a few laughs. In case you don't get the joke, a clothed Nike pitchwoman shows up late in the video and describes the company's Nike Free 5.0 shoes as "completely naked ... uh, natural" and then turns all sorts of colors when a runner (whose privates are obscured by the shoe in an angle from her point of view) asks if they come in a size 15. The video reveals the naked truth about Nike: The company isn't as humorless as many of us thought.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Subway's big Rangers ad gets chilly reception from hockey fans

Posted on Mon Apr 13 2009

Subway is no stranger to over-the-top product placements. Many of the reviews of Adam Sandler's 1996 golf comedy Happy Gilmore noted the presence of the sandwich chain's logo, which is so ubiquitous in the movie that cable companies rebroadcasting it often blur it out. Subway's latest gambit is also sports-related, and fans aren't happy. Earlier this month, the New York Rangers began running a huge, superimposed CGI Subway logo on the glass boards behind the goal. According to Puck Daddy, a Yahoo! Sports blog, the "backlash was immediate," and one fan proposed a write-in campaign to abolish the logo. That fan has a point, because the logo is arguably more intrusive than standard signage at a game. This highlight clip of the April 7 Rangers-Canadiens game, for instance, makes you think you're seeing things because sometimes the logo is there (at 2:30, for instance), sometimes it's not. Which is quite a hat trick.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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