SBD/Issue 169/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Lenovo To Include NBA In Primary Sponsorship Of Indy 500 Car

    Lenovo Speeding Into Indy 500
    On No. 98 Car
    Chinese computer giant Lenovo has purchased a primary sponsorship on the No. 98 car, owned by Greg Beck and driven by Alex Barron, for the Indianapolis 500 and it is taking the NBA along for a ride. Lenovo, the NBA’s official PC partner, will use the front wings of the car to display an NBA Finals logo and a June 7 “tune-in” for the Finals on ABC. The car with its new markings will debut today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition, Lenovo and its agency, Just Marketing, are working to arrange an appearance by former Ohio State basketball stars Greg Oden and Michael Conley Jr. at the speedway on Sunday prior to the Indy 500. Oden and Conley are expected to be among the top picks in next month’s NBA Draft. Lenovo also has a primary sponsorship on the Williams F1 car, which competes this weekend in the Monaco Grand Prix, giving Lenovo a dual presence internationally in open-wheel racing. Lenovo’s No. 98 car is expected to make an appearance at an NBA Finals game as a showcar.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Formula One, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lenovo, NBA, Walt Disney
  • James Blake Parting Ways With Prince, Returning To Dunlop

    James Blake Ends Prince Deal
    Early To Return To Dunlop
    ATPer James Blake has “separated from Prince rackets and will rejoin Dunlop,” according to sources cited by Daniel Kaplan in next week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Prince signed Blake in December ’05 and “planned to use Blake as one of its cornerstone marketers for the racket the company dubs O3.” However, Blake “never changed from his Dunlop racket, ... in part because he had just emerged as a top player and did not want to tinker with that success.” Blake “placed Prince logos on his racket and was touted on its Web site” as a spokesperson. Kaplan notes the Blake case “raised questions about the responsibility athletes have to play with equipment they endorse and whether companies should tout stars who use competitors’ products.” Prince noted that it “never maintained that Blake actually played with one of its rackets.” In a statement provided by Prince, Blake said, “I was playing the best tennis of my career and I guess I just wasn’t open to switching” (SBJ, 5/28 issue). CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted Dunlop, which signed Blake out of college in ’99, “exercised an option to terminate him when he fell out of the top 100” in ’05. Blake’s departure from Prince means the brand’s “top American is now Vince Spadea, ranked 64th in the world” (, 5/23).

  • Valero Officially Announces Title Sponsorship Of Alamo Bowl

    Valero Energy Corp. formally announced a three-year deal to title sponsor the Alamo Bowl through the ’09 game, which will be called the Valero Alamo Bowl. The contract length matches the deals the bowl has with the Big Ten, Big 12 and ESPN. Valero has been a sponsor of the bowl since its inception in ’93 and has been title sponsor of the PGA Tour stop in San Antonio since ’02 (Valero). In San Antonio, Richard Oliver writes the deal “represents the next step in a hoped-for boost in nationwide recognition” for Valero, which has a presence in 44 states and is planning for expansion. It has also worked with the MLB Giants, Saints, Spurs and the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. With NASCAR “eyeing further expansion into the Northeast and Northwest, look for Valero to keep going along for the ride” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/25).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NASCAR, New Orleans Saints, PGA Tour, San Antonio Spurs, San Francisco Giants, Speedway Motorsports Inc., Walt Disney
  • Wheels & Deals: Waltrip Says Sponsor Agreements Solid

    Waltrip Says Sponsor Relations
    Strong Despite Poor Performance
    Despite the struggles Michael Waltrip Racing has faced this year, Waltrip said, “Our sponsor contracts and our Toyota agreement are all very solid.” Waltrip added, “Despite rumors on the Internet that we’re going to have to give back money because we don’t qualify or we’re going to lose our sponsors, that’s just not the case. The only sponsors not guaranteed for next year are Domino’s and Burger King [on David Reutimann’s No. 00 Toyota], and they never have been” (USA TODAY, 5/25). NAPA is the primary sponsor of Waltrip’s No. 55 Toyota and UPS is the primary sponsor of Dale Jarrett’s No. 44 Toyota (THE DAILY).

    EARNHARDT: NASCAR SCENE’s Bob Pockrass reported the will of the late Dale Earnhardt, which was signed in ’92, “didn’t give [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] an ownership stake” in DEI. Earnhardt Sr. gave wife Teresa Earnhardt the power “to retain and carry on any business or property in which I may own an interest at the time of my death.” After Earnhardt’s death, the court-approved asset assignment included a provision giving Teresa “all of the stock owned by decedent in [DEI]” (, 5/24).

    GORDON: USA TODAY’s Gary Graves writes NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon has used business tips Earnhardt Sr. gave him early in his career to “develop his brand.” Gordon ranked 16th on Forbes’ ’06 list of top-earning athletes, with $23.4M from salary and endorsements. Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick, who owns Gordon’s No. 24 Chevy, said, “He just has a natural gift. We never had to give him any marketing training” (USA TODAY, 5/25).

    Print | Tags: Burger King, NASCAR, Toyota, UPS
  • Marketplace Round-Up

    adidas Likely To Make Durant (l)
    Top Pick Over Oden
    adidas NBA Sports Marketing Manager Jim Gatto said adidas made a “significant” offer to F Kevin Durant, who is expected to be one of the top two picks in the NBA Draft. Gatto said that C Greg Oden, the expected top pick, “still has a lot of appeal, ‘but we feel Durant has more to offer. He’s a wing, or a guard, and big men in particular don’t sell product.’” Nike declined to comment on either player. Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard: “So much of endorsement is built on aspiration. An athlete who is more apt to be copied at the playground pickup game probably has an inherent edge” (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/25). Durant, G Corey Brewer and F Al Horford appeared on ESPNews Thursday from Vancouver, where they were taking part in the development of EA Sports’ “NBA Live 08.” Durant wore a motion capture suit with a large EA Sports button on his chest (ESPNews, 5/24).

    SODA FOUNTAIN: Jones Soda Founder & CEO Peter van Stolk, discussing his company’s new pouring-rights deal at Qwest Field, said of future plans in sports facilities, “Our goal is to create a fan experience. If we create the fan experience for the Seahawks, then we think that people will come to us and say, ‘Hey, that’s really cool. That’s what we want to do.’” van Stolk would not put a dollar figure on the deal, but did say “it was worth a ton to Jones because it gives us the credibility to play against the big boys” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 5/24).

    ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE: Massachusetts-based Saucony is launching a line of running apparel in the U.S. consisting of three performance clothing collections next spring, followed by lifestyle clothing and accessories in fall ’08. Saucony-sponsored athletes will wear the Hurricane Collection, one of the three performance lines. The lifestyle line will be designed to wear to and from athletic activities (BOSTON HERALD, 5/25).

    Print | Tags: NBA, Nike, Seattle Seahawks, Vulcan Ventures
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