SBD/Issue 179/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Izod's Title Sponsorship Has Helped Re-Energize IndyCar Series

Izod Bringing Pop Culture To IndyCar Since
Signing Six-Year Title Sponsorship Deal

Since signing a six-year title sponsorship deal in November with the IndyCar Series, Izod "has pulled out all the stops to give a jolt of energy to a league that has been in the doldrums," according to a front-page piece by Dana Hunsinger of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Izod has a billboard in Times Square "showing young, good-looking stars such as Ryan Hunter-Reay and Danica Patrick, giving a fresh face to the league." There also have been TV commercials during NFL games promoting the IndyCar Series and "ads in GQ and promotions on Hollywood Boulevard with Jimmy Kimmel." IndyCar VP/Sales Greg Gruning said Izod is "taking us to pop culture ... and have really driven new fans into our space." Hunsinger notes the "exposure that Izod, backed by its $9 billion parent company Phillips-Van Heusen, can give is priceless." Former IndyCar and IMS CEO Tony George said the exposure is "all you would ever want out of a sponsor. They are doing all the things to activate and build a brand they are committed to. They obviously are great marketers -- maybe among the best." Hunsinger notes Izod "got its feet wet" in IndyCar by forming a relationship with Hunter-Reay in '08 and "using him in TV commercials and other marketing venues." N.Y.-based entertainment and sports agency Widget & Cog Owner Michael Palmer said that Izod "liked what was happening and started wanting more of IndyCar." Just Marketing Int'l Founder & CEO Zak Brown: "No one outside of maybe Honda and Bridgestone has ever marketed the series as much, but what's more important is they are marketing to a great new audience in a lifestyle manner." Driver Dan Wheldon "called Izod's initiatives a good start." He said, "It's just the beginning. All of this stuff has been talked about before, but it wasn't done" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/27).

SHOPPING SPEED: YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg wrote he visited the Macy's location on Broadway in N.Y. Wednesday, and there was "no doubt ... about IZOD's level of commitment to promoting the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500." Every window "was promoting the 500, and one had a screen playing highlights of 500s from the past." The promo "might have kicked up a notch inside the store," as the "circular displays at the ceiling above the main walkway had pictures of current drivers and past drivers" and old cars were located in the aisles. Bromberg: "I have to give IZOD a ton of credit for marketing the heck out of the series, because the IndyCar Series really needs the non-Danica exposure to survive. ... However, I do know that not many people seemed interested in what was essentially a department store turned Indy 500 history museum" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/27).

WHERE ARE THE STARS? Actor Jack Nicholson will wave the green flag at Sunday's 94th Indianapolis 500 (Mult., 5/27). In Indianapolis, Cathy Kightliner reported the Indy 500 throughout its history "turned out some big names" from the entertainment industry, but some insiders "say that the flame has flickered out in recent years and was nearly out in 2009." People who recall the race's "history with big-name celebrities have been less enthused recently by the personalities seen waving from floats and sauntering through the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway." IMS PR Manager Eric Powell said that due to the "sagging economy last year, Indy 500 officials chose not to spend the money it takes to attract big names." However, he "takes issue with anyone who says the race hasn't attracted major stars." Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush and Muhammad Ali are among those who have attended in recent years. Phillips-Van Heusen Exec VP/Marketing Mike Kelly and Izod are "working on adding more Hollywood glamour" to both the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series. In addition to Nicholson, actors Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara will be at the race, as will reality TV star Kim Kardashian. Indianapolis-based Image First President Cebronica Scott: "I definitely think we can get it back. ... This year is a step in the right direction" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/27).

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