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SBD Global/August 6, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Target Becomes Title Sponsor Of ASP Women's World Championship Tour Event In Maui

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Target has been a partner of Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore since '09.
U.S. retailer Target has agreed to a deal with the Association of Surfing Professionals to become the official title sponsor of the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour event in Maui. The deal, which will be officially announced on Wednesday, is a testament to the new commercial strength of the completely reorganized ASP as well as Target’s continued focus on action sports. It is Target’s second foray into women’s surfing. Back in ’09, the retailer signed an endorsement deal with then 16-year-old Carissa Moore, who went on to become a two-time ASP Women’s World Tour champion. The new title sponsorship deal for the Maui Women’s Pro highlights Target’s commitment to women’s surfing. “That’s what [Target] wanted and, no pun intended, targeted,” said Mark Noonan, the ASP’s global chief commercial officer. The Target Maui Pro presented by Schick Hydro Silk will be the final stop on the ’14 tour schedule and is set to take place from Nov. 22-Dec. 6. The event will also mark the return of the women’s tour to Honolua Bay for the first time since ’09. Daniel Griffis, Target’s VP of experiential marketing & alliances, declined to comment on the length of the deal or its financial terms. But he said that Target has been thinking about bringing back women's surfing to Maui for roughly two years. "It became evident that one of the things that was missing on the women's tour was an event in Hawaii," Griffis said. On top of its title sponsorship, Target will run a TV commercial during the broadcast of the event on ABC as well as ads during its digital live broadcast. Griffis said that the event will also help bring awareness to the company's first store in Maui, which will open in March. Target joins companies like Roxy, Rip Curl, Billabong and Swatch as event title sponsors on the women’s tour.

TRULY GLOBAL: Though Target only operates stores in the U.S. and Canada and therefore focuses on domestic audience numbers, the ASP's global audience is appealing to many potential partners. ASP CEO Paul Speaker told SBD Global that research showed professional surfing has about 120 million fans globally. While many of those fans live in countries traditionally associated with surfing such as the U.S., France, Australia, Brazil and Japan, the ASP discovered that its fans are not reduced to coastal communities. “They are evenly distributed across the countries or the continent,” Speaker said. “Outside of Australia, where everyone lives on the shoreline, in Europe, Brazil, the U.S. and Japan, the fan base was distributed evenly across country or the continent.” In addition to the size of its audience, the ASP’s fan base, which primarily consists of 18-34-year-olds, is a sought-after demographic by advertisers. Speaker also said that pro surfing fans are two-and-a-half times more socially active than other sports fans and eight times the regular public. A statistic proving the digital nature of its fans is that 40% of viewers watch live broadcasts on their mobile devices.

BUILDING THE PORTFOLIO: Noonan, who joined the ASP in July, believes its reorganization as a one-stop shop for the world’s best men’s and women’s surfers provides the organization with tremendous commercial opportunities. Target, for example, waited until the ASP had the right structure in place before it approached the organization with its plans for a Maui women's event, Griffis said. Samsung, which signed on as the title sponsor of the men’s and women’s world championship tour in February, and GoPro, the exclusive camera partner of the WCT and the Big Wave World Tour, are the biggest global partners of the new ASP. “When you have a global property, you have certain categories that can do global deals,” Noonan said. “And then you have regional and local categories. We are targeting all of those open categories based on what type of companies and what the geographies are.” He added that the ASP is looking to grow its sponsorship portfolio at an event-by-event basis, both on a regional and global level. Noonan and his staff, which is currently being assembled and expected to feature 10-20 employees at the beginning, will be tasked with this job out the ASP’s new office in N.Y.
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