SBJ/March 5 - 11, 2007/This Weeks News

Getting the rhythm: IndyCar signs Ritmo Mundo watches

The IndyCar Series came away from a shopping trip down Rodeo Drive with a new multiyear sponsorship agreement with Ritmo Mundo watches.

Ritmo has agreed to a five-year deal that will make the Beverly Hills, Calif., watchmaker the official timepiece of IndyCar. An announcement on the deal, believed to have a total value in the low seven figures, including product, licensing and cash, is expected this week.

Included in the deal is a licensing agreement for Ritmo to produce IndyCar-branded watches. The licensing piece can be expanded to include driver-branded watches.

The first IndyCar watch will debut April 12 at the World Watch and Jewelry Show in Basel, Switzerland.

Ritmo also will present a watch valued at $100,000 to the IndyCar Series champion driver and a watch to each race winner.

IndyCar officials credited Fiduciary Management Group, New York, one of IndyCar’s agencies, for delivering the lead on Ritmo.

Before stepping into motorsports, Ritmo was best known for its product placement in the movie “Ocean’s Twelve” as well as the HBO series “Entourage” and TV show “CSI: Miami.”

“In a short time, Ritmo has garnered an astounding amount of retail, press and consumer attention,” said Gerald Raines, senior director, national sales at IndyCar. “It’s one of the hottest watch brands in the world and it’s a natural fit for the IndyCar Series.”

Ritmo was founded in 2002 by Ali Soltani, a retail bankruptcy lawyer whose family runs the Beverly Hills retailer David Orgell. The watches range in price from $400 to more than $100,000.

Soltani’s plan for popularizing the brand in a short time involved getting his watches on the wrists of Hollywood stars. He touts Gwen Stefani and Sean “Diddy” Combs as Ritmo wearers.

Soltani said Ritmo will support the IndyCar sponsorship with TV, print and online advertising, part of which will include a campaign using IndyCar drivers, as well as at-track signage.

“We’re looking forward to having the IndyCar Series as the platform to launch our brand into its second generation,” Soltani said.
IndyCar marks Ritmo’s first sports-related partnership, Soltani said.

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