SBJ/20100913/This Weeks Issue

Brazilian coffee growers to title IndyCar race

At a time when U.S. corporations remain conservative in sports sponsorship spending, the IndyCar Series has looked abroad and found a title partner from Brazil for its final race of the season.

The Oct. 2 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be known as the Cafés do Brasil Indy 300. The Brazilian coffee industry’s title deal is its first major sports sponsorship in the U.S. and is designed to raise the profile of the country’s coffee industry, which produces more coffee than any other nation worldwide.

align=Terms of the deal were not available, but IndyCar race title sponsorships are typically valued between $300,000 and $500,000.

The sponsorship is one of the first significant partnerships signed by Cafés do Brasil as it looks to raise consumer awareness for its name and logo. The deal gives the Brazilian coffee industry 2,500 grandstand tickets, retail promotional rights and the opportunity to do sampling at the event. Coffee growers hope the deal helps raise the profile of Brazilian coffee, which trails Colombian coffee in terms of consumer awareness.

“We never promoted this logo, and they wanted to put their name out there,” said Silvia Pierson, the operations manager in the U.S. for the Apex-Brasil agency, which signed the agreement on behalf of Brazil’s coffee growers.

The agreement developed through IndyCar’s partnership with Apex-Brasil, which promotes natural resources and investment opportunities in Brazil. The government-funded agency got involved with IndyCar in 2009 to promote Brazil’s ethanol industry.

Through its partnership, Apex-Brasil is able to pass on its hospitality rights to Brazilian companies and industries. As many as 350 Brazilian companies attend IndyCar races and entertain up to six guests each, who are typically U.S. buyers. The effort generated $370 million in new business last year and is projected to generate more than $600 million in new business this year, Pierson said.

The agency hopes to renew its partnership with IndyCar at the end of the season and extend it through 2012.

“We never sponsored a sport before,” Pierson said. “For us, it’s been amazing.”

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