SBD/February 7, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Duck Commander Signs On As Title Sponsor Of Texas Sprint Cup Race

Duck Commander is owned by the Robertson family of A&E's "Duck Dynasty"
Texas Motor Speedway took a "creative and controversial path" in '13 when it signed the NRA as the title sponsor of its spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and this year, a "controversy of a different type is coming," as TMS on Thursday announced a three-year deal with hunting call company Duck Commander, according to Jeff Mosier of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Duck Commander is owned by the Robertson family of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," the TV show that "became part of a national debate late last year when family patriarch Phil Robertson made anti-gay comments" in an interview with GQ. But TMS President Eddie Gossage said that the "dust-up over the GQ interview didn’t factor into this deal, which was two years in the making." He added that he "doesn’t see the deal as courting controversy." The Duck Commander brand will "get exposure to 150,000 fans at the April 6 race," and the new "Uncle Si’s Tea and Duck Commander barbecue sauce, salsa and beef jerky will be on sale at the track." Meanwhile, TMS will "get exposure on the Robertson family’s popular social media accounts." Additionally, Duck Commander 500 merchandise "will be on sale at Wal-Mart and other outlets that sell Duck Dynasty merchandise." Gossage said that he is "not sure whether the show would include footage of the family at the race." A deal would "need to be negotiated" with A&E. Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Jeff Knapple said that he "doesn’t believe TMS will have much blowback from this deal." He added that a "large percentage of TMS ticket buyers are probably fans of Duck Dynasty, fans of the products or avid hunters" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/7). In Ft. Worth, Carlos Mendez notes Robertson family members will "serve in roles such as grand marshal and honorary starter" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/7).

STIRRING THE POT? In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote of Gossage, "Say this for Eddie, the man is never one to shy away from any controversy." The "problem for Eddie, and much of NASCAR, is any alleged controversy is not generating anything more than a small headline for one day." When TMS made its agreement with the NRA, there was a "tiny bump in publicity that any race would sign an agreement with an organization that was under intense criticism after the school shootings" in Newtown, Conn. But the attention "did not last for too long." Engel: "All these moves do is further insulate NASCAR fan among their own. A sport that was born in the southeast and originated in moonshine runners continues to retreat further away from the mainstream and hang out amongst itself" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 2/6).
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