SBD/Issue 51/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Four Score: Lowe's Celebrates Johnson's Latest Cup Victory In Ads

    Lowe's Racing's Web Site Congratulates 
    Johnson On His Fourth Cup Series Title
    Lowe's today is celebrating Jimmie Johnson's record fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship with a series of congratulatory ads on several different platforms. The home-improvement retailer runs a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer congratulating Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus, and Hendrick Motorsports, while a 30-second celebratory spot ran on ESPN this morning. Lowe's Racing's Web page features an intro screen congratulating Johnson with the text "Making History at High Speed." Meanwhile, Quaker State runs a full-page ad in USA Today congratulating Johnson and touting its status as the official motor oil of Hendrick Motorsports. The Lowe's ads come after the company signed a three-year extension with Hendrick for primary sponsorship of Johnson's No. 48 Chevy through the '13 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Lowe's has sponsored Johnson's entry since '01, his first season as a Cup driver (THE DAILY). Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick: "Lowe's took a chance on us back in 2001, and it's not a stretch to say this whole thing would never have been possible without them. When you have a partner put that much faith in you, it's incredibly rewarding to see them be successful" (, 11/20). Hendrick Friday also announced that he "had signed Johnson to a contract extension that would keep him the driver" of the No. 48 car "through the 2015 season." Johnson's original deal was "set to expire at the end of 2010" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21).

    WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR JIMMIE? In DC, Liz Clarke wrote Johnson's "history-making moment" yesterday at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is "largely being met with indifference by casual sports fans and a measure of irritation by many ardent NASCAR fans who've grown weary of his spot-on performances down the stretch." While corporate sponsors "delight in Johnson's sterling comportment on and off the track, traditional NASCAR fans often fault him for being too polished and politically correct," as they "tend to prefer more polarizing drivers -- guys who raise a little hell once in a while -- whether for the purpose of cheering or booing." NASCAR radio host Pat Patterson said the racing circuit was "almost quilted together with personalities, and those personalities were what people clung to." Patterson: "The problem right now is, there is nobody that's making you jump off the couch to make you kind of hang onto them. ... People aren't in love with NASCAR; they're in love with the people who race in NASCAR" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22). Former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler said of Johnson, "A lot of people think he's boring. I think he's the absolute, dead-on model for what people should be" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21). In Miami, Greg Cote writes Johnson is the "guy who gives boring a good name." He is "nobody's NASCAR prototype," but he is "just the best guy in it" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/23).

    BEST OF THE BEST: The WASHINGTON POST's Clarke writes yesterday's race "capped an extraordinary season for Hendrick Motorsports, which collected its ninth Sprint Cup Championship (tying Petty Enterprises' all-time mark) and its 12th NASCAR title in all divisions of racing." Also, Hendrick drivers "finished first, second and third in the standings," with Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon finishing second and third, respectively (WASHINGTON POST, 11/23). Meanwhile,'s David Newton reported a "family emergency" kept Rick Hendrick from attending yesterday's race. Hendrick's niece, Alesha Gainey, was "undergoing an emergency liver transplant in North Carolina" (, 11/22).

  • Wheels & Deals: Hendrick Negotiating With DuPont For No. 24 Car

    Hendrick Negotiating New Deal With Dupont,
    Jeff Gordon's Primary Sponsor
    Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) Owner Rick Hendrick said that he is "negotiating a new deal with DuPont," the primary sponsor on Jeff Gordon's No. 24 car since he joined Sprint Cup Series in '92. DuPont's contract is set to expire after next season, and Hendrick said that the company "will remain on the No. 24 at least for a good portion of the races through the end of Gordon's career." Hendrick also noted that Gordon "will drive through at least the 2013 season" for HMS. There has been "speculation that Gordon, who has a lifetime deal with HMS, will retire within the next couple of years." Hendrick said Gordon is "committed to at least 2013, maybe 2014" (, 11/20).

    IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: The AP's Jenna Fryer reported Volkswagen Motorsport Representative Hans-Joachim Stuck was at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, "fueling speculation that the automaker is interested in joining Toyota as the second foreign manufacturer in NASCAR." Top NASCAR officials confirmed that Stuck "met with the sanctioning body on Saturday at the track." A source said that Volkswagen officials "expressed interest in entering a racing series, but indicated they are more inclined to pick a series that showcases technology." A "second option for Volkswagen could be the Grand-Am Road Racing Series, which is owned by NASCAR and uses foreign engine makers" (AP, 11/21).

    BACK ON TRACK: BAM Racing co-Owner Beth Ann Morgenthau said that the team, which has been on hiatus since '08, "plans to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2010." NASCAR SCENE's Kenny Bruce reported BAM's No. 49 Toyota will feature sponsorship "provided by Warner Music Nashville, which will use the opportunity to promote various releases by new and established artists." Larry the Cable Guy "will adorn the team's entry at Daytona to help kick off the release of his new CD, 'Tailgate Party.'" BAM had been out of the sport "because of a lack of sponsorship" (, 11/22).

    Earnhardt Jr. Likely To Remain NASCAR's
    Most Popular Driver Despite Down Year
    CRUISE CONTROL: In Miami, Linda Robertson wrote NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is "still headline worthy despite the worst season of his career." He was voted the most popular driver last season "for the sixth consecutive year and set a NASCAR record for merchandise sales in 2008, and that streak should continue." Not only does he have the "lineage and the most magnetic name in the sport, but he's also the down-home Everyman fans adore." NASCAR "always has thrived on its personalities, feuds and climactic finishes." The sport "could use some Rocky Road to go with Mr. Vanilla," and it "could use the resurgence" of Earnhardt Jr. (MIAMI HERALD, 11/22).

    CULTURAL EXPANSION:'s David Newton wrote NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya has "touched a culture in the Hispanic community that NASCAR was unable to tap into before his arrival three years ago." Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-Owner Felix Sabates said of Montoya, "He brings a higher class of fans than any other driver in NASCAR. I don't say that to be disrespectful. ... He brings a mixture I don't think any other driver out there does." Homestead-Miami Speedway for yesterday's Ford 400 offered "two ticket packages that included $42 donations to the driver's charity foundation," and "more than 2,400 were sold." Newton wrote "one could argue that Montoya, through his own popularity, has done more for NASCAR's diversity program than anything the governing body has accomplished on its own" (, 11/20).

  • Twins C Joe Mauer Signs With IMG For Marketing Representation

    IMG Dir Of Talent Marketing Alan Zucker Will
    Represent Joe Mauer Off The Field
    Twins C Joe Mauer, who today was named the AL MVP, has signed with IMG for "marketing representation," according to Liz Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Mauer "will continue to be represented by agent Ron Shapiro for on-the-field work," while IMG Dir of Talent Marketing Alan Zucker "will represent Mauer off the field." Zucker said Mauer is the "best young talented baseball player in the league, and his upside is limitless, due to his play on the field and his charismatic personality off the field." Zucker added, "This is not a signal that IMG is getting into the team sports contract business, but as a sales and marketing firm, we will continue to represent iconic talent from the sports world, including team sports athletes." Mauer "counts Nike, Rawlings and Qwest Communications, with whom he has a regional deal, as sponsors," and Zucker indicated that he "plans to begin renewal talks with those companies soon." Zucker "acknowledged that he has had discussions with Gatorade about a partnership, but said no endorsement deal has been signed." Zucker said that he is "targeting the categories of beverage, personal care products, credit card, banking and other consumer products." Mullen notes the signing of Mauer comes a few weeks after IMG also signed Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin for marketing representation (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/23 issue).

  • Cleveland Design Officials Reject Nike's New LeBron James Mural

    Nike's Proposed 10-Story Mural Of LeBron
    Promotes The New Pro Combat Line
    Cleveland design officials Friday said that a "proposed 10-story mural" of Cavaliers F LeBron James "crosses the line from civic art into a giant ad for Nike products," according to Tom Breckenridge of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Cleveland Planning Commission (CPC) "tabled Nike's request to replace a massive mural of James that hangs from an office building across from" Quicken Loans Arena. Nike "wants to take down the arms-spread image of James for one showing him bare-chested, his skin a scaly armor," as part of Nike's promotion for its new Pro Combat line. CPC Chair Tony Coyne: "You're going over the line to market a Nike product." Coyne and others also "criticized the lack of a 'Cleveland' or 'Cavaliers' presence on the mural." Gigantic Media's David Sternberg "presented the proposed mural to the commission" on behalf of Nike, and after the vote said that he "would take the commission's comments 'back to Nike and their creative department and they will take it under consideration'" (, 11/20).

    TOO MUCH OF AN ADVERTISEMENT TO TAKE: In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, "Somebody should stand guard against blatant advertising." The mural is a "creative attempt to show the scaly look of the Pro Apparel line, but some feel the bare chest along with James' scowl don't make for a positive image." The current mural, showing James in a Cavaliers uniform, "carries a Nike swoosh that somehow passes the civic art sniff test along with the words 'We are all witnesses.'" Shaw: "I'm not sure how the Cavaliers uniform triggered spasms of art appreciation. But it's clear the proposed mural's failure to advertise the city or the team had the opposite effect" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22). Also in Cleveland, Terry Pluto wrote, "I agree with those who rejected the idea of the new Nike mural of a bare-chested LeBron James in 'prepare for combat' mode. ... It seems the Nike people (if not James) should be aware that there is a real war going on with real people from Northeast Ohio in danger every day. Those women and men are the real soldiers, not some guy in the NBA. Nor does the ad say a single word about Cleveland" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/22).

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