SBJ/February 25 - March 3, 2002/Marketingsponsorship

D.C.'s Grand Prix series ready to ride Cadillac-style

GM's flagship Cadillac brand is close to signing on as title sponsor of the first National Grand Prix in Washington, D.C., a series of three auto races being held on a 55-acre course adjacent to RFK Stadium July 19-21. Sources put the one-year (plus option) deal around $800,000.

The weekend-long event features American Le Mans, Trans-Am and World Challenge GT races, along with an accompanying three-day festival that will include a concert, a celebrity race and a motorcycle jump by Robbie Knievel.

Coming on the heels of Cadillac's NFL corporate sponsorship and Super Bowl ad replete with Led Zeppelin music, the race sponsorship continues a repositioning from a stodgy car brand to one decidedly embracing performance and technology.

"It is a real brand statement and a nice blank canvas to work with as [Cadillac] moves to a new identity," said a marketer involved in the deal.

The sponsorship leverages Cadillac's history of involvement in Le Mans racing. CBS will broadcast the Trans-Am race, and NBC is telecasting the American Le Mans Series race. Gilco Sports & Entertainment Marketing of Bethesda, Md., is selling sponsorships for the race; other inventory on the market includes a presenting sponsorship and 91 other sponsorships of varying levels to the event. Additional sponsors include Hyatt and Accelics Inc.

Michael Jordan's looking for foursome of celebrities.

TEEING UP M.J.: It isn't often that SFX Sports puts Michael Jordan up for sale, but the agency is now on the street with a presenting sponsorship to His Airness' second celebrity golf tourney. To accommodate Jordan's return to the NBA, the tourney has been moved from January and will be played Sept. 18-22 at The Ocean Club in the Bahamas.

NBC will televise a 90-minute highlights package in early October. The $850,000 price tag for the presenting sponsorship includes six commercial units in the broadcast, hospitality, signs, hotel rooms and proximity to Jordan. Requirements for playing include celebrity status and a 15 handicap.

 

ALMOST SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: FedEx is close to signing a deal with the PGA Tour, an affiliation that would allow it more schmooze opportunities with its core B-to-B customers. PGA Tour deals normally cost in the low seven figures, and FedEx deals typically include 20 percent or more barter. A PGA deal would add to an already impressive list of FedEx sports affiliations that includes the NFL, the Orange Bowl, CART, the St. Jude Classic golf tournament in its home city of Memphis and naming rights for the Washington Redskins' stadium.

 

TARGET-ING CONSUMERS: The Team Target auto racing team of Chip Ganassi will receive some exposure from Fuji Film in a custom-publication promotion slated for this fall. A 16-page fan magazine on Team Target will be shrink-wrapped with four packs of Fuji film and single-use cameras sold in Target stores this September. Jigsaw Media in Stamford, Conn., handles.

 

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Maybe Brandi Chastain's marketing appeal is lasting. The woman who scored the winning goal in the last Women's World Cup recently scored re-up deals with Nestlé's Power Bar for another year along with a two-year renewal with 24-Hour Fitness Centers.

Former SFXer Mike Levine, most recently of Sportscapsule.com, to Van Wagner, N.Y., where he'll head the out-of-home media company's newly created Sports Group. Levine will head a group composed of the Dorna USA rotational sign company, a playground program that refurbishes inner-city basketball courts in exchange for ad space on the backboards and a sports events and promotions company responsible for staging events like the Eddie Robinson Football Classic and other games. His charge is to make it a full-service sports marketing shop by adding capabilities like corporate consulting and sponsorship sales.

Arizona Diamondback Randy Johnson has signed to do print ads for Boeing, so we're trying to figure out what the synergy is between the left-handed 200-game winner and the manufacturer of commercial aircraft. Maybe it lies in the fact that both of them fled Seattle?

Audrey Dinofrio returns to SFX Sports Group as senior PR director after a 10-month hiatus.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@amcity.com.

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