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NASCAR driver Tony Stewart missed yesterday's Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen Int'l following the incident Saturday night involving Kevin Ward Jr., and the "ripple effects could be enormous across myriad racing series, sponsors and teams," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. It "wasn't clear how much input -- if any -- sponsors had in Stewart's decision to sit out the race, but it's certain" Stewart-Haas Racing consulted them. Though Stewart is a "pitchman extraordinaire whose blue-collar persona offers appeal, Ward's death is the latest of several on- and off-track incidents that have raised questions about why he always seems caught in a maelstrom of controversy" (USA TODAY, 8/11). SI.com's Michael McCann noted Stewart has "lucrative endorsement deals with such blue chip companies as Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Mobil 1," which "likely contain 'morals clauses.'” Stewart, like Tiger Woods following his sex scandal in '09, could "face a loss of endorsement deals because of the controversy, settling aside whether it leads to any legal consequences" (SI.com, 8/10). CNBC's Brian Sullivan said, "The question is going to be no matter what the outcome is of this investigation … whether Mobil One, Bass Pro Shops, GoDaddy, come back to him." Sullivan noted even if Stewart is "totally cleared in this" and is "exonerated of any criminal charges," questions remain whether sponsors are "going to pay money to put your name on his hood" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 8/11).
RICK'S ROLL: Hendrick Motorsports on Friday announced that AARP and the AARP Foundation's Drive to End Hunger Program will return in '15 as a sponsor of the No. 24 Sprint Cup car driven by Jeff Gordon. The deal is for primary sponsorship in the Daytona 500 and 12 other races, down from 22 total this season, and associate sponsorship in all other races (HMS). Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Friday said that he "hoped to continue representing the National Guard" despite the organization announcing Wednesday that it will pull its $32M motorsports sponsorship. Earnhardt said, "We don't really have any details on anything, and that's between the Guard and HMS to sort all that out. I've really enjoyed working with them over the last seven years and I hope to be able to continue to represent them. It's been a huge honor" (USATODAY.com, 8/8).
PERSONAL CARE: Kimberly-Clark on Friday "extended its sponsorship" of JTG Daugherty Racing's No. 47 Sprint Cup car through '17. The company will promote its Scott, Viva, Kleenex, Cottonelle and Huggies brands on the Chevy car driven by A.J. Allmendinger (AP, 8/8).
The Univ. of Michigan football team will "wear an all-blue uniform -- blue pants and blue jersey -- for the 'Under the Lights' prime-time game against Penn State on Oct. 11 at Michigan Stadium," according to Angeliques Chengelis of the DETROIT NEWS. UM and adidas on Twitter on Friday night "unveiled the 'Go Blue' Techfit uniform that involved design input from some of the Michigan players." It is the "first all-blue uniform in program history." It also is the "sixth time Michigan will wear an alternate uniform and the sixth time it has collaborated with adidas." The response on Twitter when the photo first appeared "was not, for the most part, positive." Many "simply think this new Michigan uniform is unattractive and unnecessary." But UM AD Dave Brandon said this is a "very big deal" to UM players. Brandon: "It’s something that’s important, that they think about, that they ask for" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/9). In Ann Arbor, Brendan Quinn noted players were "presented with the new uniforms during a team meeting following Friday's practice" (MLIVE.com, 8/8). In Detroit, Joshua Henschke writes in the grand scheme of things, UM supporters "have much more to worry about than a silly uniform change that will happen only once this year." If the players "enjoy wearing the uniforms and it gives the recruits something extra to talk about it, then the case is closed." Fans will "buy the jersey regardless, even if it looks out of place in the man-cave." Henschke: "Could the announcement be an attempted money-grab from Adidas and the athletic department? Probably, but isn’t everything these days?" At the "end of the day, getting worked up about a jersey is minimal compared to what the players think" (FREEP.com, 8/11).
North Carolina State Univ. "launched its new sports marketing campaign on Friday but not without a hiccup," according to Joe Giglio of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. The "one-word promotional concept '#Statement' ... is designed to be a way for N.C. State fans to share what makes their experience as a Wolfpack fan unique." NCSU Associate AD/Communications & Marketing Fred Demarest said, “We wanted a campaign that our students, alums and fans could all have an interactive voice in, one that was more personal, had a deeper emotional connection, and was less consumed with wins and losses." Giglio noted the new direction for the campaign was "specifically designed to be a departure from the oft-mocked 'Our State' campaign which became a punchline after the Wolfpack football team went winless against four in-state foes" in '13. The "only hitch" in the new effort is Mississippi State "had a similar campaign to 'Statement' in 2011 for its school-wide marketing purposes." MSU also used a "variation of 'Our State' before N.C. State started that campaign" in '12 (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/9).
In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks reported the Coyotes are "looking for a new advertising agency." The team last August "hired Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt -- which has a Phoenix office." Both the team and C-K confirmed the split. The split "could open the door for some local sports-oriented ad agencies" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/8).
BO KNOWS TOURISM: Univ. of Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan will appear in a new commercial for the state's DOT "directed by David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams," the team behind the movie "Airplane." Packers WR Jordy Nelson appeared in a previous tourism ad (AP, 8/10).
PANTHER TRACKS: Univ. of Pittsburgh Licensing & Merchandising Coordinator Lori Burens said that she receives "more than 100 requests each week for new products that seek to use the Pitt logo." In Pittsburgh, Michael Sanserino noted the "average application process lasts about two months, though some products can require much more time." A license for "local market sales can cost as little as $750," though companies "aiming to sell and market a product nationwide can face bills of more than $21,000 just to get a university's approval" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/10).
SOFT DRINKS, STRONG RESULTS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Mike Shields noted Coca-Cola and Pepsi both "pushed hard to get YouTube viewers to watch and share their World Cup-themed spots." YouTube analytics firm Zefr found that during the "height of World Cup hysteria," Coke fans "uploaded 63 videos that generated 14 million views." That "easily topped Pepsi's 56 fan-uploaded clips which generated roughly 9 million fan views" (WSJ.com, 8/8).