SBD/Issue 132/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Virgin Media Joins F1, Signs Sponsorship Deal With Brawn GP

    Branson And Virgin Group Reach Multi-Million
    Dollar Deal To Sponsor F1 Team Brawn GP
    Virgin Group has reached a deal to sponsor F1 team Brawn GP, marking the company's "first time as a significant team sponsor" in the sport, according to Edward Gorman of the LONDON TIMES. The multi-million dollar deal, set to be announced officially this weekend in Melbourne ahead of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, marks Brawn's "first big sponsor signing" after Honda dropped its affiliation with the team in December. A Brawn source indicated that the team's cars will "carry extensive Virgin branding and may even do so" during Sunday's race, though Virgin Media is "not thought to have acquired the team's title sponsorship rights." F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone Thursday confirmed that a deal had been reached and said that the "size of Virgin's financial commitment has still to be worked out in detail." Ecclestone added that he "had been working to ensure a deal was done in recent weeks and that he had been prepared to make it work himself if the team had decided against going ahead." Gorman notes Virgin Media Chair Richard Branson earlier this year reportedly was in negotiations to possibly buy Brawn. Branson's only other involvement with F1 was Virgin's "minor sponsorship deal with the Jordan team" in '02 (LONDON TIMES, 3/27). Ecclestone: "I am delighted they have just got going on it and have a deal in place. It's good for the team, good for formula one, I'm very happy with it" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 3/27).

    START YOUR ENGINES: In London, Russell Hotten writes the Virgin-Brawn deal "shows that other sponsors are willing to step in, but the prices being paid for sponsorship are thought to be" down as much as 60% from last season. Meanwhile, the F1 season kicks off Sunday in "typically supercharged fashion, but even this pinnacle of motor racing ... faces a financial crisis." There will be "less glitz and glamour this season," and for the "first time in years, the talk is of contraction, not expansion" (LONDON TIMES, 3/27).

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  • Golfsmith Refunding Cost Of Drivers If Garcia Wins The Masters

    Golfsmith's Refund Promotion Aims
    To Boost Golf-Equipment Sales
    Golfsmith is currently running a nationwide campaign in which it is "promising to refund consumers the amount of money they pay for a TaylorMade driver if [golfer] Sergio Garcia wins The Masters next month," according to Rich Thomaselli of AD AGE. Customers can buy a driver from any of Golfsmith's 73 stores across the country, golfsmith.com or over the phone, and then "fill out a form and have the purchase price fully refunded by Golfsmith" if Garcia wins. The promotion, which includes print and TV elements, "aims to pump up golf-equipment sales" for both Golfsmith and adidas-owned TaylorMade. Golfsmith has "purchased an insurance policy against the odds" of Garcia winning the tournament, so it "will not be giving away millions." Orlando-based consultancy Golf Datatech co-Founder Tom Stine "believes the promotion will 'get lots of buzz.'" Stine: "It'll be something if (Golfsmith) has to refund all that money on drivers purchased, but it creates something neat for the consumer and it will be in exchange for a hell of a lot of advertising and goodwill." But GolfWeek columnist Jim McCabe said the promotion is "a bit of a safe bet" for Golfsmith. McCabe: "Of the four majors, Garcia has been least effective in The Masters. ... But I give them credit for a campaign that has some positives to it." Thomaselli noted the promo does not end until 11:59pm CT on April 11, which is after the completion of The Masters' third round (ADAGE.com, 3/25).

    WIN-WIN SITUATION: FANHOUSE.com's Shane Bacon wrote the promo "really is a brilliant scheme in my opinion, because it's a win-win scenario." If Garcia does not win The Masters, the companies "probably convinced people in need of a new driver to go with TaylorMade." And if Garcia does win, TaylorMade "gets to boast how their marquee tour player just took down The Masters with all TaylorMade equipment" (FANHOUSE.com, 3/23).

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  • AirTran Increases Activation In Milwaukee By Signing Ryan Braun

    AirTran Airways has signed Brewers LF Ryan Braun as its "pitchman in Milwaukee," according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Braun will appear in AirTran ads and "make personal appearances on behalf of the airline." He also "will begin appearing on several billboards in the Milwaukee area." While Midwest Airlines remains the team's official airline, AirTran "has become increasingly involved with the Brewers." When Mercedes-Benz pulled out of its naming rights deal for Miller Park's right-field picnic area, AirTran "stepped in and purchased the naming rights." AirTran also has deals with Packers WR Donald Driver, IRL driver Danica Patrick and Falcons QB Matt Ryan, as well as several other athletes (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/27).

    Braun Will Appear In AirTran Ads, Make Appearances On Behalf Of Airline

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  • Wheels & Deals: Sprint Committed To NASCAR Through 2013

    Sprint Dir Says Company "Committed
    More Than Ever" To NASCAR
    Sprint Dir of Sports & Entertainment Marketing Steve Gaffney said the company remains committed to title sponsoring the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series "through the duration of its contract that runs through 2013 despite tough economic conditions." Gaffney said the company is "committed more than ever." Gaffney: "This sport and what we get from this sport in terms of real business, subscribers and existing subscribers is demonstratively good for our business" (ESPN.com, 3/25).

    FULL FORCE AHEAD: In Atlanta, Peralte Paul reported Aflac is "going full throttle" with its NASCAR sponsorships after signing a deal last May to serve as the season-long primary sponsor of Roush Fenway Racing's No. 99 Sprint Cup car driven by Carl Edwards. Aflac Manager of Corporate Sponsorships Keith Farley said, "Any sponsorship we do, we have to look at the investment we're making and what it yields. We've seen the power of NASCAR and the relationships we can build." While Aflac sponsors other sporting-related events, the NASCAR "focus is the company's largest." Farley: "The investment that we've made -- we've seen a positive return. That's why we're increased the investment because the return has exponentially increased" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/26).

    DAYS OF THUNDER: Kenny Bernstein Racing Manager Kenny Bernstein said the NHRA "hired IMG last year to help find sponsors" for the teams and they are "all pounding the pavement as hard as they can." Bernstein: "That's all any of us can do. It's hard to get sponsors in the best of times, let alone when everyone's so scared of what's going to happen next" (AUTOWEEK, 3/23 issue).

    EVERYTHING LOWER IN TEXAS: Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) and SMI Properties are cutting prices by 18-55% on more than 40 merchandise items during the events surrounding the April 5 Sprint Cup Samsung 500 (TMS). Meanwhile, in Dallas, Anthony Andro noted fans buying $25 in tickets for the Samsung 500 from the TMS ticket office or merchandise at TMS' gift shop on April 3 "will receive a TMS race program cover poster designed and signed by artist Sam Bass" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/26).

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