SBD/June 29, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Crown Royal Ending Sponsorship Deals With NASCAR, Roush Fenway Racing

Crown Royal will focus NASCAR marketing efforts on Richmond Int'l Raceway event

Crown Royal yesterday announced it will end its official sponsorships of NASCAR and Roush Fenway Racing's No. 17 Sprint Cup Series car after this season. The brand follows Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and others who have exited the sport, bringing an end to a six-year run that saw spirit brands dot the hoods of stock cars throughout the NASCAR season. Diageo, Crown Royal's parent company, said it will keep its race entitlement at Richmond Int'l Raceway and focus its future marketing efforts in NASCAR on its "Your Name Here" promotion around that event, which awards race naming rights to an adult fan. Diageo did not provide a reason why it was ending its NASCAR and Roush sponsorships or indicate where it was shifting its marketing savings. Diageo North American Whisky VP/Marketing Yvonne Briese in a statement said, "We have developed strong relationships with the people at both organizations -- they have not only been fantastic business partners, but have also become our friends. We want to thank them for working with us." RFR President Steve Newmark said in a statement, "We are obviously disappointed with the news, but first we would like to thank Diageo and Crown Royal for a terrific partnership that has spanned almost a decade." NASCAR will consider replacing Diageo with another spirits sponsor. Meanwhile, RFR yesterday announced a two-race deal with Affliction Clothing for the No. 17 car driven by Matt Kenseth. All four of the RFR's largest Sprint Cup sponsors were up for renewal this year. It renewed with 3M, lost Crown Royal and remains in negotiations with UPS and Aflac. Crown Royal is the first sponsor to end its official partnership with NASCAR this year. The sanctioning body is working on renewals with Bank of America, Exide, SiriusXM Radio, UPS and Visa (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

BLOW TO THE SPORT: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Hart wrote Crown Royal's decision is a "blow to Roush Fenway and NASCAR." It marks the "departure of yet another top-dollar sponsor" after Red Bull last week announced that it is "leaving the sport at the end of the season" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/28).

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