SBJ/20090202/This Week's News

Craftsman hangs sign on ESPN’s ‘Tech Garage’

Sears Craftsman has struck a deal to title sponsor ESPN’s “Tech Garage,” providing the tool brand with an on-air presence in the network’s NASCAR broadcasts before, during and after the race.

The seven-figure, multiplatform sponsorship will go across ESPN’s Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup broadcasts, “SportsCenter,” print, radio and online.

“Craftsman is going to receive prominent on-air exposure,” said Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of customer marketing and sales. “Having a brand like Craftsman close to the sport gives it even more authenticity for our talent to engage people in the garage.”

ESPN will use the “Craftsman Tech Garage” as a segment to explain technological aspects of racing.

Craftsman, formerly the title sponsor of NASCAR’s truck series, surrendered that position after last season to focus on reaching a broader audience through media buys, according to Scott Howard, Sears’ manager of marketing partnerships and activation. Howard also investigated team sponsorships but decided not to invest there.

“This allows Craftsman to do more from a product placement point of view, as opposed to just a big entitlement,” Erhardt said.

The brand also is doing away with its at-track program and mobile marketing as it shifts its motorsports budget into media buys. The truck series title sponsorship was believed to cost Craftsman about $5 million a year, while it spent about $6 million last year on media buys, according to Nielsen Media Research. Part of that was a committed spend on Speed, the home network for the truck series.

In addition to its ESPN presence on ESPN, Craftsman will be the presenting sponsor on “Road to Daytona,” a Feb. 15 pre-Daytona 500 special with customized content. That’s part of a buy with Fox that includes two 30-second units in the prerace show and two more units in the race broadcast.

“We’re not just looking to reach the NASCAR fan; we’re looking to reach the 18-34 audience and more of the casual fans, too,” Howard said.

Craftsman’s ad campaign, titled “Unsung Heroes,” began shooting last week at Michael Waltrip Racing’s shop near Charlotte and will highlight the crew members who work on the cars. The tag line reads, “Behind every champion is a Craftsman.”

Staff writer John Ourand contributed to this report.

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