SBJ/January 8 - 14, 2007/This Weeks News

NASCAR taking licensing wheel for ISC

NASCAR’s licensing office has never represented another company’s marks before, but a new deal with International Speedway Corp. will make NASCAR the official licensing agent for ISC’s tracks and events, including Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR and ISC are expected to finalize a new five-year deal this week.

“We’ve always represented our own marks in the past and stuck to that, but now seems like a good time to get into a business like this,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR’s managing director of licensed products. “ISC has a great stable of brands and events, and we’re looking forward to maximizing those products.”

The most immediate impact of the deal will be felt in distribution, an area where ISC was admittedly weak. Whereas ISC’s event and track merchandise was available for purchase mostly at the track on race weekends, Roger VanDerSnick, ISC’s vice president and chief marketing officer, expects NASCAR’s distribution muscle to move product into more retail outlets.

While not every track and event will find its apparel in Wal-Mart, for example, Daytona and perhaps a few others will.

NASCAR also looks forward to capitalizing on special marks, such as the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 in 2008. A logo already is in the works and product is expected to roll out later this year.

Davidson said his office also will look for licensees that might be deemed nontraditional.

“Yes, this is a way for ISC to expand its retail footprint, but this is not just a mass retail play,” Davidson said. “You will see us being aggressive with event and track marks, and that might mean going into some nontraditional places — resorts, vehicles, watercraft, any number of different things.”

It was during a reassessment of its licensing office that ISC determined it might be time to outsource the job to a company with more resources. VanDerSnick said licensing had undergone personnel losses over the course of 2006, which led to a closer look at the department.

ISC talked to a couple of licensing agencies, VanDerSnick said, but NASCAR’s know-how and experience with motorsports and retailing made it the favorite, even though it was new to representation.

“As we talked about what to do with licensing,” VanDerSnick said, “the bigger question became ‘How do we grow it?’ We decided that the aggressive play was to partner with a licensing agent to take us where we haven’t been before. … We needed traditional licensing skills, but it’d be great to have the automotive and retailing skills as well. That’s when it became clear.”

ISC took the idea to NASCAR late in 2006 and the two sides worked out what they described as a traditional licensing model, with NASCAR receiving an unspecified percentage of sales. NASCAR will do the legwork, seeking and negotiating the deals, as well as handling distribution, and ISC will have final approval.

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