SBD/July 12, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

WPP Group Acquires 25% Stake In Just Marketing International

International marketing company WPP Group “has acquired a stake in Just Marketing International,” according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal values JMI at $100M. WPP will “join existing shareholders Spire Capital Partners, Credit Suisse and Zak Brown, who founded the agency.” Its investment is “believed to give it a stake of roughly 25 percent in the agency.” WPP is the “second major investor in JMI in the last three years,” after Spire Capital Partners “took a majority stake in the agency in 2008 when the agency’s revenue was close to $80 million.” Since then, Indianapolis-based JMI has “diversified its business by expanding its operations overseas.” Brown “believes WPP’s investment will help JMI grow by providing it with access to the company’s corporate client base and supporting it with the expertise of subsidiaries specializing in areas such as digital media.” Brown: “There’s no doubt it will operationally benefit us. Whether it’s efficiencies or buying power, I’m sure we’re going to gain and learn a lot.” Brown said that JMI “will remain focused on motorsports and continue to increase its revenue internationally” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/11 issue).

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? Brown appeared on Speed's "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" Sunday night and discussed the state of NASCAR marketing. JMI represents UPS in its primary sponsorship of Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 Sprint Cup entry driven by David Ragan, though the deal expires after this season. Brown said, "Clearly, we wanted him to win more races than he did. … UPS is committed to the sport. They've been in for 12 years now. They generate a lot of business out of the sport and in the sport from the industry. So they're in discussions right now, reviewing what to do. Really, Ragan's future is as much in Roush's hands because he's in a contract year. Kind of need to wait and see what happens there.” Brown said the economy “has bottomed out” as more and more teams have to field a variety of sponsors as opposed to the $20M main sponsor in the past. Brown: “NASCAR is a great buy because it still puts up fantastic numbers. But I do think these multiple paint schemes and multiple companies is the future." Meanwhile, Brown's name has been mentioned as possibly replacing Bernie Ecclestone in heading up F1. Brown said, "I'm happy doing what I'm doing. It's very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence. I know Bernie very well. I do a ton of business with Formula One, with JMI, and you know, never say never. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing now" ("Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain," Speed, 7/10).
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