SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2007/This Weeks News

Dew Tour gate grows, sponsors stay

Karen and Rachel Coronho woke up at 6:30 a.m. and had their friend drive them four hours from Coconut Creek, Fla., to Orlando on Oct. 21. The 15-year-old twins joined a crowd of about 600 screaming and screeching teenage girls there all aching for one glimpse of skateboarder Ryan Sheckler at the AST Dew Tour’s final stop.

“My friends are all like, ‘Oh my God, he’s so hot,’” Rachel said, as she craned to see the 17-year-old skater with his own MTV reality show sign autographs. “I hope I meet him.”

The Coronhos and the other teens who crowded around them are part of the reason the AST Dew Tour saw a 13.9 percent increase in attendance this year. The twins were an example of a new demographic — teenage girls — who discovered the tour this year and combined with three new markets — Baltimore, Cleveland and Salt Lake City — to drive overall attendance to 283,342.

“It feels like the awareness and excitement level in every market we go is up,” said Wade Martin, Dew Tour president and general manager, “and we’ve got a lot of momentum right now.”

Attendance rose 13.9 percent for the AST Dew
Tour, which wound up in Orlando this month.

That momentum and on-site growth has allowed the AST Dew Tour to minimize sponsor churn in its third year despite a decrease in ratings on NBC, where viewership fell 11 percent to an average 0.7 rating.

Associate partner Verizon, which was up for renewal, will be back in 2008, while negotiations with associate partner Slim Jim and title partner PlayStation are ongoing. Only Vans, which titles the tour’s Portland stop, plans to step down.

Steve Van Doren, Vans’ vice president of events and promotions, said the footwear company was planning to shift strategies and invest more marketing dollars in retail promotions than events.

Martin said the tour is close to finalizing a deal to replace Vans as title sponsor of the Portland stop and expects to announce a deal within the coming weeks. He declined to say with whom or in what category.

Overall, sponsors were pleased with the tour’s third season, saying that they were encouraged by attendance growth and overall consumption of tour content.

“From the event side of things, we’ve seen consistent improvement,” said Chad Harp, a Toyota marketing spokesman. “We’re seeing improved attendance and we haven’t had any bad events, period.”

John Cimperman, principal of Cenergy Sports & Entertainment, Right Guard’s agency, said the attendance ensured marketing and activation remained strong this season.

“Some strategies need to be put in place to drive ratings upward,” Cimperman said, “but it’s been a strong property for Right Guard.”

Though ratings fell, the Dew Tour saw its aggregate content numbers rise. Video-on-demand viewership was up 46 percent from last year through four tour stops; there were 110,000 downloads of the Dew Tour on iTunes during the first year that tour content was offered there; and astdewtour.com saw a 41 percent increase in unique visitors, according to the tour.

“They’re doing a great job of attracting fans,” said Donna Armentor, PlayStation’s senior manager of promotions. “I can only imagine the ratings are going to evolve and increase. It’s compelling content.”

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