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

Next international stop for NASCAR goods: Australia

With an eye on Australia and New Zealand as untapped markets for its merchandise, NASCAR is partnering with a leading Australian licensing company to increase its sales and marketing opportunities Down Under.

Gaffney International Licensing, a 30-year-old company headquartered in Melbourne, will become NASCAR’s exclusive licensing agent in Australia and New Zealand.

“The Gaffney partnership will mark the first time NASCAR will have a local partner developing the licensing business for the Australia and New Zealand markets,” said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR’s managing director, international. “There is a hotbed of loyal fans in the region who have limited to no access to NASCAR products. Identifying a strong local partner to properly develop and grow the business is key.”

NASCAR’s move into Australia and New Zealand represents NASCAR’s commitment to international growth, Weiss said. The presence of new Nextel Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya, a former Formula One star with an international following, could boost those efforts.

“We have established a solid foundation to build from (internationally) and have seen some great results,” Weiss said. “International growth is a long-term initiative for NASCAR, and we will continue to explore emerging opportunities in foreign markets.”

While select races, such as the Daytona 500, have been televised in Australia since the early 1990s, NASCAR’s presence didn’t really take hold until five years ago when Fox Sports Australia picked up the entire Nextel Cup and Busch Series schedules. Starting in 2007, the network will carry Craftsman Truck Series races as well.

New Zealand viewers get Nextel Cup races on Sky New Zealand, but the Busch and Craftsman races are not yet available.

This is not the first time NASCAR has stepped out of the United States with its licensing efforts. In 2004, it partnered with TSN to create NASCAR Canada, which gave the sport a marketing and licensing presence north of the border. TSN also has televised NASCAR events since 1984.

Gaffney will focus solely on licensing and marketing initiatives.

In addition to managing U.S.-oriented brands in Australasia, such as Jack Daniel’s and TV shows “CSI” and “American Chopper,” Gaffney has represented Australian brands such as the Wiggles and the Crocodile Hunter. In sports, Gaffney represents ESPN and the Tour de France.

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