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London Games will intro Albert

5 Sep

Next year’s London Olympics will see the debut of a new soccer ball, “The Albert”, affectionately named after the city’s Albert Hall.

A ball naming competition was recently opened to the public, with over 12,000 unique monikers submitted in a ten-day period, before the cheeky rhyming slang entry was selected. Adidas say they wanted to acknowledge the East End of London, which has become synonymous with the upcoming Games, and to also create some global intrigue.

Intrigue is one thing, but surely design is equally on Adidas’ mind after last year’s Jabulani debacle at the World Cup. That shiny number – famous for dipping on unsuspecting goalkeepers – was oddly constructed with just eight panels instead of the traditional 32. Apparently the architects were looking for a marketing angle instead of performance.

Such was the criticism of the last ball that scientists around the world later tested it and concluded its fewer panels and internal stitching made it as close to a perfect sphere as a ball has ever been. We can only hope Albert will be a little, well, fatter.

Imperfect spheres in sports like tennis, golf and cricket provide those games with their unique characteristics, where the trajectory and bounce, and players’ reactions to such movements, are part of the romance of each sport. The same is true of soccer, if not even more so.

That’s why The Albert needs to be dull and imperfect, true to the touch, instead of stealing the limelight like a right royal pain in the…

The new football’s design will remain under wraps until its official launch in spring 2012.


Portland Timbers have a cool logo

4 Apr


One of the new additions to Major League Soccer in 2011 is the Portland Timbers, who are bringing their rich tradition and trail-blazing fans to the pro ranks.

Beyond good soccer and proud fans, the Timbers have also honed their logo, a combination of heritage imagery and slick design. The axe clearly references the Pacific Northwest’s logging industry and the three chevrons organized to resemble a pine tree, point to the Timbers’ membership in three separate leagues: the original North American Soccer League, the United Soccer Leagues, and Major League Soccer.

The colors are ponderosa green and moss green, and represent the state of Oregon’s forests.

It all makes for a simple, yet attractive emblem, evoking the region’s history and strength.

Check out this great launch video below.

Jets flying home to Winnipeg?

12 May

winnipeg jets logoIt’s true – the Winnipeg Jets are being wished back into existence, remarkably after being exported to Arizona as a potential “cash cow” (or, er, coyote).

So much for that idea. How much was the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy price, $140 million? And according to The Toronto Star, the club is now a further $20 million in the hole after this season. We give you Gary Bettman ladies and gentlemen – a man with a dream.

Incredibly, the idea that Canuck teams are too small time to make good money, is now being shunned by pundits because Canadian locales are surely better off than struggling post-GFC American cities, as Randy Turner explained in The National Post this week.

And there’s the moral of the story. How can anyone, in any pro sport, seriously contemplate relocating a popular team again for the sake of a few bucks? It’s nuts. It doesn’t matter which way you slice it – fancy new TV deal, the promise of more bobble head sales, or potentially robust attendance figures – loyal fans always deserve to keep their team, and in the end, will stand by them.

When the chips are down, do the ambitious movers and shakers of business really believe fans in the desert, on the beach or cruising the bayou will really be enamored with hockey – on ice? These people have football, basketball and baseball. They prefer ice in their lemonade to ice in their arenas. It’s just common sense.

Hey, nobody’s disrespecting the fans that do support the Phoenix Coyotes, or the Nashville Predators for that matter. In fact, we tip our inflatable hockey hats to you. But the way in which the Winnipeg-Phoenix saga has played out needs to be a lesson for all: tradition and passion count for more than the bottom line (at least in Any Town, North America). As long as us – the fans – are happy, who cares about the league’s desire for expanding markets?

Following a sports team isn’t a game for us, as it is for many owners. It’s an emotional relationship, in which nobody wants their heart broken – especially not for a few dudes wanting a better lining in their pockets.

Hopefully the potential re-relocation of the Jets reinforces this message. And while we’re at it, maybe there’ll be some recognition that you don’t mess with a classic sports brand. The Jets logo, after all,  was – and maybe is – one of the best to ever grace a rink.

LeBron to New York, assumes NY Mag

10 May

LeBron James New York MagNew York Magazine has a great feature this week entitled, ‘Hey LeBron, Welcome to New York‘, which lists the top reasons why King James is destined for Broadway. Amongst the best is a proposed LeBron sandwich at The Carnegie Deli, “The MVP”.

NHL’s playoff commercials rock

6 May

Here’s just one of the NHL’s 2010 playoff ads, this one featuring Wayne Gretzky. These promos are simply another reason why we love the hockey.

Reebok’s zigging and zagging with Mayweather

6 May

reebok zigtechReebok’s Zigtech sneaker has been out for a while, but we wanted to take another peek following Floyd Mayweather’s decision against Shane Mosley last week. Why? Because “Money” trained in the Zigtech prior to the fight with “Sugar” Mosley, which makes him look like Reebok’s most valuable ambassador right now. The flexibility and spring in these shoes is said to lighten the impact on muscles, meaning you can last longer. And that’s basically what Mayweather did on fight night. The partnership was a clearly a stroke of genius by the Big Cheeses at Reebok.

Sportswear to soar during World Cup

5 May

Adidas world cup jerseyAdidas is the largest sports apparel sponsor of the 2010 soccer World Cup, the London Evening Standard reports. The Three Stripes is backing 12 teams, including hosts South Africa,  Spain, and Germany, and will also bring the  matchballs. Nice of them, isn’t it? Well all this Adidas branding means the company is expecting massive revenue from the Cup, something akin to the 2006 event, where it added more than US$1 billion (€1 billion) to its bottom line through the sale of football shirts, boots and balls. Nike is sponsoring 10 teams and Puma seven at this year’s tournament.