SBJ/20090202/This Week's News

Danica Patrick signs with IMG

Danica Patrick has signed with IMG’s Alan Zucker and Mark Steinberg to represent her marketing and endorsement efforts off the track.

The first female driver to win an IndyCar Series race had been with Hollywood-based agency Endeavor for the last two years and worked with the Players Group before that.

Steinberg is best known as Tiger Woods’ agent, while Zucker’s clients include NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. An IMG spokesman confirmed the signing, but the agency did not have a comment.

“It was just time for a change of pace,” said T.J. Patrick, Danica’s father and business manager. “It was a move designed to get more into sports marketing. Endeavor isn’t really a sports marketing group. We went that avenue and then Danica decided to try something different.”

T.J. Patrick said Danica made the decision to change agencies late last year. The lack of endorsement opportunities after her first career IndyCar Series win last April in Japan contributed to the decision.

“She didn’t really get anything out of the win at all, other than some media coverage,” T.J. Patrick said.

Danica’s personal endorsement deals with Marquis Jet, Tissot, Peak Antifreeze, Kaenon Polarized sunglasses and Alpinestars clothing and footwear pay anywhere from the low to mid-six figures each, industry sources say. A Samsonite deal, executed by Endeavor, expired at the end of 2008 and was not renewed. Endeavor also helped arrange Danica’s spots in a “Got Milk” ad and a Budweiser spot with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jay-Z.

In noting that Woods’ agent will now be part of her representation team, T.J. said with a laugh, “We’ll take Tiger’s leftovers.”

Among her Andretti Green Racing team sponsors are Motorola, AirTran and GoDaddy. Patrick’s “Beaver” ad for GoDaddy was banned from last year’s Super Bowl, but it became a YouTube sensation.

She was again featured in a GoDaddy ad that was slated to run during the Super Bowl this past weekend on NBC, which said it was cleared to air. Some analysts, though, have said that the racy and controversial nature of those ads with GoDaddy might be holding her back from striking bigger deals. Others see the controversy as an attraction.

“Those ads are edgy and they break through,” said Zak Brown, CEO of Just Marketing International, an IndyCar marketing partner. “I don’t rate it as a negative because they put her in high-profile places, like the Super Bowl. But with the bigger picture, she’s as well-known as just about any driver, so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t have as many endorsement deals as a Jeff Gordon.”

Patrick’s scores on the Davie-Brown Index, which measures celebrity appeal and awareness for brand marketers and agencies, rate favorably with other female sports stars such as Michelle Wie, Annika Sorenstam and drag racer Ashley Force. Patrick falls short of the awareness numbers of tennis-playing sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

Among motorsports stars, Patrick’s awareness ranks behind only NASCAR’s Gordon and Earnhardt Jr.

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