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SBD/Issue 13/Sponsorships, Advertising & MarketingPrint All
EA Sports Getting Out
Of The Race Sponsorship Game
EA Sports “has declined to extend its contract for naming rights” to Talladega Superspeedway’s fall Nextel Cup race, according to Neal Sims of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. EA Sports signed a three-year title sponsorship deal in ’01, and later extended it by one year. Sunday will be the fourth and final running of the race under the EA Sports name. The track is looking for a replacement “willing to pick up the seven-figure price tag for title sponsorship.” Talladega VP & GM Rick Humphrey, on EA Sports: “While the event launched their game and moved their product, they concluded sponsorship of a single event was not as necessary as other elements to market their game successfully.” Meanwhile, Humphrey said the track is “close to finishing up a multiyear deal with” Aaron’s, which has a year remaining as sponsor of Talladega’s spring race (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 9/29).
Charlotte-based grocer Harris Teeter has inked a five-year sponsorship agreement with the Bobcats, which industry experts value at $300,000-500,000 annually, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal includes promotions at Harris Teeter stores and at Bobcats home games, as well as sponsorship of a preseason game against the Heat on October 26 to be attended by 14,000 middle-school students from the area. Harris Teeter Regional VP John Rohr: “We’ve always been a supporter of the community and the sports teams. We think this fits in with our track record.” Harris Teeter also sponsors the NFL Panthers and Hurricanes (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/28).
WARDED OFF: The CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL’s Spanberg also reports that 18 months after the Bobcats hired Wray Ward Laseter, Charlotte, “to handle their wide-ranging advertising campaign,” the team and agency have parted ways. The team’s ad account was estimated at $1M when awarded in May ’03. Bobcats Exec VP/Corporate Affairs Chris Weiller indicated that the team will “develop some of its advertising internally and has no plans to have an agency of record going forward” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/24 issue). Weiller did say that the agency will “continue to work on some specific projects with the Bobcats,” including the launch of C-SET. The team will “likely work with a variety of groups for its marketing needs, along with handling some projects in-house” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/28).
Artest’s Marketability On The Rise
Pacers F Ron Artest, “branded as a scoundrel two seasons ago when he was suspended for 12 games and led the league in flagrant fouls,” has become “one of the [NBA’s] more marketable players,” according to Mark Montieth of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Artest’s business manager, Mark Stevens, was able to sell the image of Artest as a “dark-horse player in the basketball shoe market” to L.A. Gear, which in February will sell shoes and apparel bearing Artest’s "Truwarier” label. Stevens said that “larger shoe companies showed interest, but Artest wanted to go with a smaller one that fits his profile.” Stevens: “A lot of times, companies like to market the individual who appears to be nice on the court, but a lot of people like the underdog, the guy who’s always fighting and had to work extra hard. That’s why certain companies that are underdogs, like L.A. Gear, (wanted Artest).” Montieth notes L.A. Gear has shoe deals with only two other NBA players –- Heat C Shaquille O’Neal and Lakers F Luke Walton. Meanwhile, Artest will appear in four NBA-related commercials this season: two for NBA League Pass and two for TNT, which were directed by Spike Lee. NBA League Pass Marketing Dir Merritt Paulson said of using Artest, “It’s just the fact he’s an up-and-coming superstar. If there were major issues to the negative, he probably wouldn’t have been included” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/29).
The LPGA will hold The MasterCard Classic from March 4-6, 2005, at the Bosque Real Country Club in Mexico City, marking the tour’s first event in Mexico since ‘75 (LPGA).
NTRA: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Liz Mullen reports the NTRA has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Cendant that will feature the company’s brands –- Budget car rental, Century 21 real estate and Days Inn hotels –- in advertising around horse racing programming. An industry source “estimated [the deal] to be in the high six figures annually” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/27 issue).
SMILE: Crest today runs a full-page ad in USA TODAY promoting its new flavors in conjunction with its WNBA partnership. The ad features the smiling faces of Storm F Lauren Jackson, Sparks C Lisa Leslie, Mercury G Diana Taurasi and Fever F Tamika Catchings (THE DAILY).
ACROSS THE BOARD: NHRA multi-team owner Don Schumacher appeared on Speed Channel’s “Wind Tunnel” last night, and said having teams in several different NHRA series has “allowed me to bring sponsors in that support all of the different kinds of vehicles. With the U.S. Army on the Top Fuel car and on Pro Stock bikes, it allows for diversity ... and gives them the opportunity to be in the winner’s circle twice on Sunday but also get some additional TV time. It gets them additional support from the soldiers and does a better job for recruiting” (“Wind Tunnel,” 9/28).Which WNBA player would you most like to endorse your product? Vote in THE DAILY POLL