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SBD/January 24, 2012/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
NASCAR team owners yesterday expressed optimism that the economy is improving and pointed to new sponsorships and recent renewals as evidence that better days lie ahead for Sprint Cup teams. Stewart-Haas Racing has signed three new sponsors in the last six months, bringing on Quicken Loans, Outback Steakhouse and Aspen Dental to sponsor driver Ryan Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet. Team co-Owner Tony Stewart said that showed the economy was improving. Stewart: "We still have races to sell, but it's the best position we've been in since ('09)." Joe Gibbs Racing Owner Joe Gibbs said his team signed three significant sponsorships last year, highlighted by a renewal with Mars and a 10-race Sprint Cup deal with Dollar General. Those signings were encouraging, Gibbs said, because they came in a very difficult economic climate. He added the team is becoming more effective at delivering a return to sponsors on their investments and has been more proactive in creating business-to-business opportunities among them. NASCAR recently met with team owners, and Gibbs said he was encouraged as ever about the prospects for the future of the sport. Gibbs: "NASCAR is the most involved (they've ever been). We're energized. We're trying to give fans what they want" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
ROWDY ROUNDUP: Gibbs said that he believes Kyle Busch, who drives JGR's No. 18 Toyota in the Cup series, "has matured and just took a step back" when he was suspended in November for an on-track incident. Gibbs: "We’ve got a sponsor there that has been awesome with it. We’ve been through some incidents and Mars (which funds the No. 18 team through its M&M’s brand) just stood tall through the whole thing." Busch recently signed Monster Energy to sponsor his Nationwide Series ride and he said that the company "hasn’t talked with him about his behavior." Busch: "I haven’t had that talk with them because frankly I don’t think they care. I started talking with those folks (last) February." SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass noted while Monster "might not care, it is obvious that M&M’s does." Busch "wouldn’t divulge what his conversations have been like with Mars executives the last few months but said the sponsorship doesn’t come with additional conditions" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/23).
Danica Patrick yesterday announced she will skip the Indianapolis 500 and run the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend. The decision was made largely because she wants to focus on NASCAR this season. However, Patrick, who made the announcement during yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, said she and her management team were not able to put together a business deal that worked for her. Patrick: "I hope to do (the Indy 500) in the future and maybe it will be a double." Patrick will follow in the footsteps of Janet Guthrie, who became the first woman to race the 600 in '76. Stewart-Haas Racing Exec VP Brett Frood said that it was important to the team and Patrick's primary sponsor, GoDaddy, that she run the 600. Frood, "Sponsor-wise, with it being Memorial Day, and because of track time, the 600 was an important race for us" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Patrick said, "It's just something that didn't work out, as far as the business-side of things" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24). USA TODAY's Seth Livingstone notes when Patrick announced her move to NASCAR in August, she said that a "return to Indy would have to be with Andretti Autosport, her Izod IndyCar Series team for the last five seasons." But she could "be back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Cup car July 27 for the Brickyard 400" (USA TODAY, 1/24).
CENTER OF ATTENTION: ESPN.com's Terry Blount wrote under the header, "Danica Patrick Steals The Spotlight." In the first interview session of the '12 NASCAR media tour, Patrick "managed to upstage her new boss, Tony Stewart, at least as far as attention goes from more than 200-plus reporters attending Day 1 of the tour." Blount: "Welcome to Danica's world as a full-time driver in NASCAR. ... Get used to it. It's all part of Danica-mania, which isn't new for her, but the scale of attention will continue to increase if she has success in NASCAR" (ESPN.com, 1/23). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes Patrick attracted as "many reporters and photographers ... as defending Cup champions Tony Stewart." This is "not a media concoction; fans will follow, too." The appeal "is obvious." Some men who "care little about racing will follow her because of her appearance and because she will again star in an unprecedented sixth straight Go Daddy -- her sponsor -- Super Bowl commercial." Some women who "care little about racing will follow her because she's one of them" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24).
KISS ME, I'M IRISH: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee noted Patrick over the weekend "unveiled a special shamrock-themed GoDaddy No. 7 Chevy Impala that she'll run in the St. Patrick's Day Nationwide race at Bristol on March 17" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/23).
NFL Giants fans "snapped up T-shirts, hats and other merchandise proclaiming the team's NFC championship, in some cases minutes after the G-Men defeated the San Francisco 49ers to earn their fifth trip to the Super Bowl," according to Kathleen Lynn of the Bergen RECORD. N.Y.-based Modell's Sporting Goods CEO Mitch Modell said sales were "strong" at his stores, many of which opened at 5:00am ET yesterday. Dick's Sporting Goods, which "opened stores right after the game ended Sunday night, also reported healthy demand, especially for so-called locker room T-shirts and hats, which the players wear in the locker room after the game." Sporting goods stores had championship shirts "for each team printed in advance and ready to go before Sunday's game" (Bergen RECORD, 1/24). CRAIN's N.Y. BUSINESS noted Modell's "opened 28 of its local stores after the Giants' overtime victory ... with many fielding customers looking for NFC Championship locker room t-shirts and hats and Victor Cruz Cha-Cha-salsa t-shirts" until 1:00am. Modell's brought in "additional employees from as far as Philadelphia to help deal with the crush of interest in Big Blue gear." Stores by tomorrow "should be fully stocked with Super Bowl merchandise, including Patriots vs. Giants t-shirts" (CRAINSNEWYORK.com, 1/23). In Massachusetts, Rick Foster reports Patriots fans "wasted no time rushing retailers' doors for souvenir hats, shirts and other mementoes" after Sunday's AFC Championship win over the Ravens. One Dick's Sporting Goods location opened at 6:00am yesterday, and the store "was crowded early with excited fans scooping up" merchandise. The North Attleboro-based J.C. Penney location and the Patriots Pro Shop at Patriot Place "were also popular spots for shoppers reveling in the victory" (Attleboro SUN CHRONICLE, 1/24). Meanwhile, in Hartford, Janice Podsada notes store and factory owners said that with two teams "from next-door states, the Super Bowl matchup is a win-win in Connecticut for retailers and NFL gear manufacturers" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/24).
LOVING THE SEQUEL: Modell appeared on Fox Business yesterday, and was asked by anchor David Asner if the outcome of the two championship games was the best possible scenario. Modell said, “I feel I am Don King, where you put two boxers in the ring and you can't lose. ... It is just great for the spirit of New England and New York. We had 300 people in our West 42nd Street flagship store last night cheering, clapping and yelling.” Modell said of having enough quantity to meet the demand, "We have printers all around the New York area, the New England area. We have 40 vans servicing our stores, getting shipments literally every 30 minutes.” When asked if the outcomes will affect businesses outside the Northeast, Modell said, “Absolutely. New England and the Giants can be sold all over the country. They are really national teams.” Modell: “We feel this is going to be stronger than 2008” (“Power & Money,” Fox Business, 1/23).
New Era's five-year NFL rights deal does not officially begin until April, but the Buffalo-based cap maker has its first NFL-licensed products in more than a decade at U.S. retail this week. Pro Bowl caps, priced at $28 for the 3930 model and $35 for the fitted 5950 cap, are being sold this week at Lids, NFL.com, Football Fanatics and NewEraCap.com. The caps also will be sold at the Pro Bowl, which is being played Sunday in Honolulu. New Era and Nike replace adidas' Reebok subsidiary as NFL on-field licensees starting next season.
Spurs F Tim Duncan and Suns G Steve Nash will star in one of Bridgestone Tires' ads scheduled to air during NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI, while another spot includes Pro Football HOFers Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders. The ads from The Richards Group, Dallas, continue to showcase the tire brand’s new performance positioning, which debuted with the Jan. 2 ad on NBC’s NHL Winter Classic broadcast. Aikman and Sanders will tout the tires' handling and cornering abilities, while Nash and Duncan will demonstrate how the Serenity technology used within the Turanza tires guarantee a quiet ride. One ad will air in the pod at the end of the first quarter, and one will air in the final pod of the third quarter (Terry Lefton, THE DAILY).
SNEAK PREVIEW: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reports the growing interest among consumers “in discussing Super Bowl commercials on social Web sites before and during the game is pushing sponsors to use sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stimulate excitement about their expensive and often elaborate spots.” The result is that “a long-held belief among marketers that Super Bowl commercials should be kept hush-hush until they run is giving way to a philosophy of teasing content in advance.” In some cases, that means “sharing even entire commercials early.” For instance, Volkswagen last Wednesday began running their teaser video called “The Bark Side” in an attempt to “pique interest in its coming Super Bowl commercial for the 2012 Beetle.” The actual Super Bowl spot “is to be posted online on Feb. 1, four days before” the game. Volkswagen America Exec VP and Chief Product & Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney: “We want to start and provoke a conversation ... we’re off to a rock-solid start.” Deutsch CEO Mike Sheldon, whose L.A.-based agency created the Super Bowl commercials and teaser videos for VW, said lifting the veil before the game “has a halo effect.” Sheldon said of viewers, “They like to be let in on the joke, let in on the story, early.” Elliott noted Chevy “began running one of its Super Bowl commercials ... on youtube.com and chevrolet.com on Thursday.” And Audi plans “to release online a teaser video and a game about its commercial for Super Bowl XLVI” today or tomorrow (N.Y. TIMES, 1/24).
RAKING IT IN: In N.Y., Claire Atikinson cites sources as saying that WNBC-TV “can ring up an extra $2 million in ad revenue for the Super Bowl thanks to the New York Giants’ trip to the NFL Championship Game.” The channel “had been charging as much as $575,000 for a 30-second local spot during the game” and sources said that the number “is expected to jump to about $800,000 … as advertisers race to get their spots before a larger-than-usual and more affluent TV audience.” The added $2M in ad revenue “includes not only the game but any pre- and post-game coverage” (N.Y. POST, 1/24).
Fox said that it has "nearly sold out" Saturday's UFC on Fox 2 broadcast, managing to get rivals A-B and MillerCoors "to both stake out positions within the octagon," according to Jon Lafayette of BROADCASTING & CABLE. A-B, a "longtime backer of UFC, will be the presenting sponsor of all four live fight cards on Fox this year, beginning with the Jan. 28 event." Fox Cable Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales Todd Siegel said that A-B will also "present live fights on FX and Fuel." MillerCoors will "sponsor the 'Ultimate Fighter' reality series, which will air on FX." About half of the spots for Fox’ telecast were "bought by movie studios and video game makers." Sources said that spots on the broadcast "cost about $150,000." Siegel said that deals to "get a telecom and an auto company on board are imminent." A fast food sponsor is "expected in time for the spring bout on Fox" (BROADCASTINGANDCABLE.com, 1/23).
MONITORING SPONSORS: Fighter Rashad Evans said that the revenue stream from sponsors is "just as lucrative as the checks cut by the UFC." FOXSPORTS.com's A.J. Perez noted fighters "aren’t allowed to have conflicting sponsors in certain categories ... or if a company is out of ethical or moral boundaries." Glenn Robinson, who manages Evans and several other UFC fighters, said, "The UFC takes a close look at which sponsors they want to be associated with. They will look at every sponsor on that banner to make sure you’re not trying to sneak one past them that hasn’t been approved." Perez noted clothing and sports supplement companies "remain the two most popular sponsors of MMA athletes" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/23).
The MLS Fire last week announced the club had signed Quaker Oats as its new jersey sponsor, and a big push behind the company’s first signature North American sports partnership was an effort to reach soccer moms. Quaker Dir of Communications Candace Mueller-Medina noted moms are the company’s target demographic, and soccer is “becoming one of the fastest growing sports out there, especially among youth.” “We wanted to provide an opportunity to reach moms in a really meaningful way,” Mueller-Medina said. “Keeping the family healthy often falls in mom’s lap, and with the growing popularity of soccer in this country, what better way to reach mom?” Meanwhile, Andell Sports Group Managing Dir Javier Leon, whose company owns the MLS team, said another influence on reaching the agreement was the appointment of Quaker North American President Jose Luis Prado. During Prado’s time as Gamesa-Quaker President in Mexico, the company sponsored top level Mexican Primera División soccer club Pachuca. Leon said the Fire were “not concerned” at all about Quaker being a novice in the North American sports sponsorship landscape. “The nice thing about Jose Luis is he does come with a background of working with another sports company, a big club in Mexico and really growing their community and that presence through that company.” He added, “We’re not concerned, in fact we see this as a huge opportunity.” Mueller-Medina added Prado has a “strong passion” for the sport and was a “key player in making this partnership a reality.”
WORKING ON ACTIVATION: Quaker’s deal with the Fire is reportedly for $7.5M over three years, and while the company is largely still working on how it will activate around the deal, some components are already set. Toyota Park will feature a “Quaker Corner” seating section where Mueller-Medina said the company intends to allow fans in the area to sample new and current products. Quaker also will become the official breakfast foods and nutritious snacks provider, stocking the team’s clubhouse and providing breakfast and snacks to the players on a daily basis. In addition, Quaker will title sponsor the Chicago Fire Juniors, the team’s youth development program.
OPEN TO MORE SPORTS DEALS: Mueller-Medina said the company is “getting our feet wet” with the Fire deal, though Quaker is open to signing more sports sponsorships. She said, “We really find that this is going to be a great starting point for us.” Quaker is the official hot cereal of the NFL, through its association with parent company PepsiCo, and also serves as the official breakfast foods partner of MLS.
Callaway Golf's new marketing campaign that entertainer Justin Timberlake helped craft "tees off this weekend," timed to coincide with the Farmers Insurance Open, according to Suzanne Vranica of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The marketing effort features golfers such as Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam using Callaway products to "perform jaw-dropping golf feats on the Las Vegas Strip." One TV ad shows golfer Alvaro Quiros "on a floating platform on the strip, hitting a golf ball 310 yards over the Bellagio fountain." In another, several golfers "hit balls from rooftop to rooftop along the strip," as helicopters "fill in for golf carts." Timberlake has been a "paid endorser for Callaway for several years but isn't in any of the new ads." Timberlake said, "We wanted to make a statement that was more rock 'n' roll." Vranica notes a surge of young players has "lately been getting attention on the PGA Tour," and Callaway is "hoping the ads will help it take advantage of that 'youth movement' and attract younger consumers." Vranica notes the company "reported losses in both 2009 and 2010 as well as for the first nine months of last year." It "reports fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, with losses expected to continue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/24).
CHIPS & PUTTS: Cobra Golf yesterday formally announced that it has signed Rickie Fowler as an endorser. Fowler will use Cobra's clubs, bag and a selection of accessories. Fowler signed with Puma Golf in '09 and will now represent the Cobra Puma Golf brand with both on- and off-course activations. He will be featured in upcoming marketing campaigns for both Cobra and Puma (Cobra Golf)....Golfer Colin Montgomerie is "returning to his equipment roots" by re-signing with Callaway Golf. Montgomerie left Callaway in '04 to play Yonex equipment (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 1/23)....Callaway yesterday announced that it will be the official apparel provider for staff and volunteers of the '12 U.S. Amateur Championship (Callaway)....Adams Golf has re-signed Yani Tseng to a new two-year agreement (Adams Golf).