SBJ/September 19-25, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Agency finds success promoting Brazil through IndyCar deal

Brazil’s economy is booming, and the country’s support of the Izod IndyCar Series is heightening its economic growth.

Apex-Brasil, a government-supported agency that promotes natural resources and investment opportunities in Brazil, is on track to generate close to $1 billion in exports for Brazil that can be traced back to the group’s sponsorship of IndyCar. The agency says its 2011 hospitality programs in IndyCar have resulted in more than $809 million in exports to Brazil, and it still has two races remaining where it plans to host hospitality events to introduce international companies to Brazilian enterprises.

Total exports for 2011 are 37 percent greater than the $589 million generated in 2010 and 119 percent greater than the $370 million generated in 2009.

“We had good results last year, but this year we came more prepared,” said Silvia Pierson, the operations manager in the U.S. for the Apex-Brasil agency. “We did a better job of informing companies how to take advantage of the program.”

Apex-Brasil first partnered with IndyCar in 2009 in an effort to promote Brazil’s ethanol industry. It later expanded its efforts to include promotions of other Brazilian industries like coffee and information technology.

Through its partnership with IndyCar, the agency passes on its hospitality rights at races to Brazilian companies and industries. More than 350 Brazilian companies attend IndyCar races during the season and entertain up to six guests each, who are typically from U.S. companies.

“Some people ask us why we don’t sponsor a football team,” Pierson said. “With the race, it’s different. It’s a whole experience. You go to the track. You meet the drivers. It’s not a three-hour event. It’s a whole weekend.”

Apex-Brasil’s biggest hospitality event in the U.S. in 2011 was the Indianapolis 500. It had 120 guests, about 20 of whom were C-level executives. It also hosted 400 people in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a race, and it expects to host 170 guests for the IndyCar season finale in Las Vegas on Oct. 16. Korman Marketing Group handles the hospitality program.

The agency has one year left on its current agreement, but Pierson said it expects to extend the agreement. The deal is valued in the low seven figures.

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