Around the Horn: April 17th

Groundbreaking news from the racing world:  Announced today, the Ford Focus will become the first ever electric car to lead the field as the pace care at a NASCAR event during the April 28th Sprint Cup race in Richmond.  The decision drives homes NASCAR’s continued emphasis on green initiatives, but Ford has the most to gain by showcasing an electric model and educating a large number of consumers about new technologies.

Today a Kenyan runner won the men’s division of the Boston Marathon, marking the 19th time in 22 years that a Kenyan has won the prestigious race.  A Kenyan runner also finished first in the women’s race, the 3rd time that has happened in the previous 5 years.  The big winner, however, is the city of Boston.  According to estimates from the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (via myfoxboston.com), the race was expected to bring in over $137 million to the Greater Boston area, an economic impact roughly equal to that of a Final Four.

With 22 million hits already, I must be one of the last to see this TNT viral video…however, if you are like me and hadn’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out.  The stunt provided a brilliant means for building buzz surrounding the launch of the station in Belgium…

Did the Planned Parenthood PR debacle back in January really result in a significant drop in participation rates for Susan G. Komen for the Cure events as USA Today is reporting?  If so, that’s the sad end result of a botched crisis management effort, providing a perfect example of why the “all publicity is good publicity” theory isn’t exactly spot on…

Last night, the world of entertainment marketing gave us one of the most innovative things we’ve seen in a while after a performance at the Coachella music festival managed to create a frenzied buzz among fans all over the Internet.  During a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg concert, a 3-D hologram of Tupac Shakur (who died 15 years ago) created the illusion of the legendary rapper performing live.  As a testament to the stunt’s overwhelming popularity, 2pac’s HOLOGRAM had nearly 3,500 followers within 12 hours after his “appearance” on stage…

The Twitterverse (via @msament) presents this week’s installment of Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm:  “Misplaced priorities? KY public colleges fund subsidize athletics by $50M while state cuts school funds by $105M..http://bit.ly/HCr2ah.”

Around the Horn: Feb 23rd

Seems Ryan Braun could potentially be setting a new standard for how MLB athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs will be perceived by fans and media.  The Milwaukee Brewers‘ slugger who allegedly failed a drug test received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball (shortly after winning the league MVP award).  That suspension was overturned today yet the reason behind the decision has yet to come to light.  Perhaps the biggest question now for Braun, off the field anyway, will be how the news of a “clean slate” will be received by sponsors…does the news make him any more marketable now than yesterday or his reputation damaged beyond repair in the eyes of the sports marketing community? Will the circumstances behind the decision to overturn the suspension influence a brand’s willingness to align products/services with Braun?

It has been a busy week at Nike‘s HQ… What was the biggest announcement from the Beaverton, OR company this week?  Introduction of FlyKnit technology?  Launch of Nike+ basketball?  Upping the ante with their relationship with Knicks star Jeremy Lin?  Previewing the Team USA basketball jerseys?  Announcing a “greener” product line?  Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the original “Dream Team” with a new “retro” Dream Team product line?  Like we said, busy week at Nike’s HQ…

Seems fans in Miami are keeping a watchful eye on the progression of the Peyton Manning situation in Indy.  A group of rabid Dolphins fans are confident Manning provides a slight upgrade at the QB position over Chad Henne and Matt Moore, so much so they were willing to buy a billboard to draw attention to their ManningToMiami campaign.  The billboard encouraged fans to visit their website, www.manningtomiami.com.  The move drew so much attention that the website crashed and was down most of the day Thursday.

While Oakland A‘s General Manager Billy Beane is attending the Academy Awards in hopes of capturing an Oscar for the film adaptation of his book “Moneyball“, baseball analysts will likely be busy picking apart his latest personnel move.  On Monday, it was reported that the team had signed aging slugger Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal worth $500,000.  While many baseball purists have been critical of the decision, it makes sense to take a gamble from a business perspective.  Last year the team ranked last in MLB attendance.  Worst case scenario, Ramirez (who must first serve a 50 game suspension for testing positive for banned substances) will help the ballclub sell some tickets.  Best case scenario, Ramirez helps give the A’s a boost on the field, likely resulting in a significant bump at the turnstiles, a boost in concessions, parking and potentially creating new sponsorship sales opportunities…