SBD/Issue 163/Sponsorships, Advertising & MarketingPrint All
Kansas Speedway To Host
Inaugural Banquet 400
ConAgra is "upping its NASCAR involvement to unprecedented levels, with a [four-year], multimillion-dollar deal" to title sponsor the Winston Cup event at Kansas Speedway, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, who notes the race will now be called the Banquet 400, after ConAgra's frozen prepared food brand. ConAgra replaces security services provider Protection One, which held the entitlement the past two seasons. ConAgra, "to ensure that the title sponsorship gets mentioned on-air," will also buy an NBC NASCAR package, which starts at $2M (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/19 issue).
VISA: In NC, Mike Mulhern cited sources yesterday who said that Visa officials "have reportedly given NASCAR a deadline for accepting the company's offer" to replace Winston as title sponsor of its premier series. The deadline "is believed to be within the next 60 days." Other sources put the offer "at [$80-85M] a year for the next 10 years" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 5/18). But in Charlotte, David Poole writes today that reports of Visa's interest "cooled off quickly." While Visa is "believed to be a candidate," one "potential hurdle in a deal with Visa could be a $3 billion settlement of an antitrust lawsuit filed against Visa USA and MasterCard over debit-card payments" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/19).
TEAM NEWS: Masterfoods moved its M&M's primary sponsorship from MB2 Motorsports to Robert Yates Racing prior to this season, and Masterfoods Dir of Sponsorships John King, speaking at the NASCAR Power Breakfast at Lowe's Motor Speedway last Friday, said of the move, "We've increased our sponsorship dollars significantly. We wanted to be competitive. ... But as a result of increased costs, it reduces the amount of activation you can do with promotions, it reduces the amount of the hospitality you can do, and it eliminates some of your PR opportunities. There's also a fine line between being competitive and then having the money if you're not able to buy media time." The switch to Yates has proven to be a good step on the track. After 11 races this season, the M&M's team has posted two Top 5 and five Top 10 finishes, while the team's best finish all of last season was 13th (THE DAILY)....NASCAR team Owner Joe Gibbs, on the state of NASCAR: "We're headed towards a smaller and smaller group of owners that have all the cars. That's not good for the sport. We want 40 healthy owners, 40 well-sponsored cars" (Speed Channel, 5/16).
The PGA Tour's '03 Capital Open announced today a new title sponsor in VA-based investment banking firm Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, Inc. (FBR). The event will be known as the FBR Capital Open. In DC, Leonard Shapiro reports the agreement "is for this year," and FBR co-Chair and co-CEO Eric Billings said that negotiations are "still ongoing about his company continuing as the title sponsor for three more years." Billings: "This (one-year deal) will give us time to assess after the tournament. I think it's fair to say we are very, very excited about this being a long-term circumstance for us." Shapiro notes "this will be FBR's first foray into sports sponsorship, and no financial details of the company's commitment were available." While most PGA Tour event title sponsors pay $5-6M a year, sources said that "FBR's financial commitment this year will not be that pricey," as some of the cost will be offset by the tournament's settlement with previous title sponsor Kemper Insurance Companies. More Billings: "This is our first national advertising endeavor. We've just merged our two companies into one, and the timing and our ability to embark on this was very compelling" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/19).
NO, WE DIDN'T FORGET: For this past weekend's news around the marketing of Annika Sorenstam as she heads into this week's Bank of America Colonial, see tomorrow's issue of THE DAILY.
Gibbs Teaming With Reggie White
To Promote NASCAR Diversity
In an effort to promote diversity in auto racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and former NFLer Reggie White have started a grass-roots campaign, under which Gibbs and White will form several late model stock car teams to begin competing in '04. The focus of the partnership will be to identify and assist minorities to become involved in auto racing (Joe Gibbs Racing). Gibbs indicated that while he "will concentrate on finding black drivers, he won't ignore other minorities." Gibbs hopes "to begin with two to five teams in 2004." In Charlotte, David Scott wrote that Joe Gibbs Racing will fund the operations — "each costing between $50,000-$100,000 a year — whether sponsors step forward or not." White: "Maybe we'll find the next Tiger Woods in NASCAR" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/18). In Miami, Cammy Clark wrote that the plan, "is eventually to field minority drivers at the Winston Cup level" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/18).
READ ALL ABOUT IT: In an attempt to attract more fans to the sport, one of NASCAR's efforts this year is its Top 20 Program. Speaking at the NASCAR Power Breakfast at Lowe's Motor Speedway last Friday, NASCAR VP/Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said, "The whole basis of that program is educating anybody that we can get to listen in those top 20 markets about what NASCAR is. Everyone in this industry rides this little high that everything is going pretty good, and we assume that everybody in the world is as aware as we are as to what's going on in NASCAR. That is not the case, it's never been the case. ... We are devoting money, time, resources, everything we can think of to expand the education process of what NASCAR is all about. For us to truly be competitive with the NFL, we've got to be perceived as the NFL is perceived." Hunter added that NASCAR Exec VP Brian France met with about 25 sports editors of major daily newspapers about two or three weeks ago (THE DAILY).
James Reportedly "Loved" The Signs
LOVE FROM LEBRON: In Akron, Tom Reed wrote adidas' outdoor ads aimed at LeBron James, which will continue throughout May, received a "ringing endorsement" from James. James' family publicist Alexandria Boone: "LeBron loved them. He thought they were the coolest thing." Akron-based Malone Advertising VP/Media Carol Howell: "It's an interesting idea, and whoever came up with it did their homework." Hill & Knowlton worldwide head of sports marketing John Eckel "doesn't recall ever seeing a similar campaign." Eckel: "These ads are not designed to sell a brand or build a product. They do nothing to connect anyone else other than LeBron. It shows the extra mile they are going to get him" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 5/17). James' agent Aaron Goodwin: "I'm sure he enjoys the fact that he's being courted by Adidas. I think Adidas is making it known they want LeBron" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/17).
NOTES: In Phoenix, Tom Zoellner noted the city of Phoenix "is considering opening up the halls of government to corporate sponsorship" by adopting an official drink for "about $1[M] a year, plus a cut of the profits." The deal "would likely involve a soft drink company gaining exclusive distribution rights in city buildings and parks, plus the right to advertise as 'the official drink of Phoenix'" (AZ REPUBLIC, 5/18)....NBC's Jay Leno, on car companies like Honda, Jeep and Hummer marketing footwear lines via licensing deals with shoe companies: "Car companies selling shoes? Doesn't say much about the reliability of the cars, does it? 'Here's some shoes. You're gonna need them!'" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 5/16)....In DC, Steve Nearman wrote the '04 Vaultgirls Calendar "showcases elite women pole vaulters in action, some even in pole vaulting action." Profits from the sale of the calendar, which features athletes Mel Mueller, Tracy O'Hara, Mary Sauer, Jillian Schwartz, Jill Starkey and Kellie Suttle, will be used to "support the costs of preparation for the" '04 Olympics. Nearman: "The 12 monthly shots are divided evenly among vaulting poses and glamour beach shots, revealing but not over the bar" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/18).