By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
January 18, 2013
Golf’s worst kept secret became official last week as Nike announced its signing of world-ranked No. 1 Rory McIlroy to a massive endorsement deal, estimated at $200 million over 10 years. The deal comes on the heels of a lawsuit by McIlroy’s former sponsor, Oakley, which alleges breach of contract for not being given a “right of first refusal” to match the deal. Nike, which always seems to get its athlete, reportedly had its sights set on McIlroy long before he became an endorsement free agent. Oakley earlier this month signed 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson to replace him.
Hoping to steal headlines from Nike, on the day of the McIlroy announcement, Under Armour signed recently turned pro Jordan Spieth to an endorsement agreement. The deal, which is being touted as Under Armour’s most substantial golf endorsement, includes branding on Spieth’s headwear and bag, but doesn’t cover clubs.
The flurry of activity shouldn’t come as a surprise, as marketers will want to activate their new campaigns and promotions leading up to the Masters in April.