The ever-evolving menu MLS makes Topps its official card Faces and Places USA Golf launches site, seeks sponsors Richmond preps for 2015 UCI event NBA ready to discuss rights deal Scouting reports an online phenom Charlotte drag strip would host X Games People: Executive transactions From the Field of Marketing Advice
SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
When the Banana Boat brand team attended NASCAR races in Phoenix and Chicago last year, it was entranced by the number of people sitting in the sun. Team members saw hundreds of thousands of potential customers and couldn’t believe that no other sunscreen brand had found them.
“There was this gap,” said Adrianne del Sol, associate brand manager, Banana Boat. “There’s no real sunscreen company or product at these races educating people. We decided, ‘Let’s get there.’”
Banana Boat signed with Ganassi Racing to reach fans of both NASCAR (through Jamie McMurray’s car) and IndyCar.
Photo by:BANANA BOAT / CHIP GANASSI RACING
The first display will be set up at the Daytona 500. It will be branded as the “Banana Boat Coolzone Pit Stop” and feature a photo experience, giveaways and an opportunity to sample the brand’s new, continuous spray Coolzone sunscreen, which cools and protects skin.
“There are some products that fit with motorsports but for whatever reason haven’t been involved in the past,” said Ganassi President Steve Lauletta. “Banana Boat has a chance to stake out their place as a leader.”
Banana Boat signed with Ganassi Racing because it offered a chance to reach both IndyCar and NASCAR fans, and its brand managers felt that gave the brand a chance to reach two different demographics.
“We’ve been impressed by the passion of NASCAR fans and IndyCar fans,” said Hilary Daly, senior brand manager, Banana Boat. “We’re excited to bring Banana Boat into that.”
Banana Boat worked on the deal with the agencies Ryan Partnership, Stage Active Brand Marketing, Amplitude Marketing Group and its advertising agency, Grey, and media buying agency, MEC.
In addition to the Banana Boat deal, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has brought on Belkin as a new sponsor and expanded its relationship with Liftmaster. Belkin will be the primary sponsor on McMurray’s car at Martinsville, Va., in April and will use the deal to promote its accessory line of products, such as iPhone and iPad cases. Liftmaster, which signed on as an associate sponsor with the team last year, expanded its sponsorship to include a primary sponsorship on the No. 1 car at New Hampshire in the fall.
The deals close out all of Earnhardt Ganassi’s primary inventory for 2012.
The Dew Crew is back.
The term, which was used to describe the pit crews working on Darrell Waltrip’s No. 11 Mountain Dew Buick in the 1980s and Casey Atwood’s No. 19 Mountain Dew Dodge in 2001, will be used by Diet Mountain Dew to promote its new role as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s primary sponsor.
The brand plans to create a virtual hub where Earnhardt fans can become members of the Dew Crew, have access to exclusive No. 88-related content, and vote on potential paint schemes and firesuits featured in coming races. The site will live on Facebook and have its own URL, dewcrew.com.
Diet Mountain Dew, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new primary sponsor, will sign fans up for the Dew Crew at a new site on Facebook.
There will be four events during the year designed to raise interest in the site and drive traffic. Those events are being developed by the Diet Dew brand team.
Shan said Diet Dew will reward fans who participate in the site by giving them limited-edition merchandise. The goal is to have 500,000 Dew Crew members by the end of the year.
“If we can do that, we’ll be pretty happy,” Shan said.
Diet Mountain Dew is replacing Amp Energy as the primary sponsor of Earnhardt for 16 of 20 races owned by PepsiCo. Amp sponsored Earnhardt from 2008 to 2011 in a deal valued at $25 million a year, but it ended its sponsorship after seeing sales level off in recent years.
PepsiCo decided to make Diet Mountain Dew the primary sponsor in hopes of furthering the brand’s position as one of the fastest-growing soft drinks nationwide.
In addition to the Dew Crew promotion, Diet Mountain Dew will run a series of retail promotions in key race markets. It will put up “Chase the Taste” posters in the Daytona market to encourage consumers to buy Diet Dew and join the Dew Crew ahead of the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.
It also plans to put a special, No. 88-branded 18-pack of Diet Dew and Mountain Dew cans at retail outlets in North Carolina and South Carolina.
“The opportunity to grow trademark [original Mountain] Dew is still very much there,” Shan said. “People get really excited about these special race packs, and they’ll be very visible in store.”
The Diet Dew brand team is working with Genesco on its retail activation and TracyLocke on its Dew Crew program.
The PepsiCo contract with Earnhardt ends at the end of this year, and the parties are expected to begin renewal talks soon.
“Those discussions haven’t taken place yet,” Shan said. “We’re operating under the assumption that the programming [around Dew Crew] will hopefully continue beyond this year.”
Jim Furyk might be walking down the fairway with a pep in his step. The PGA Tour veteran has signed a multiyear deal with 5-Hour Energy that puts the new sponsor on the front of Furyk’s headwear.5-Hour Energy is more than the leader in the energy-shot category. It is the category.
Furyk, who will be the lead endorser for the company as it makes its debut in golf this year, will unveil the new look Feb. 9 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which is where he will kick off his 2012 season. The oval 5-Hour Energy logo with the running man will go across the front of Furyk’s hats.
“This is an exciting deal because it brings a whole new category into golf,” said Andrew Witlieb, Furyk’s agent and CEO of Goal Marketing, which is part of The Agency marketing group. “This is going to be the brand’s big splash in golf and they’re the leader in their category.”
With sales topping $900 million last year, 5-Hour Energy is a runaway train with 80 percent of the market share in the energy-shot category. The product, produced by Living Essentials, is so dominant that Red Bull abandoned its attempts to break through last summer. It’s even sold in golf pro shops as an energy boost before golfers hit the course.
But unlike many energy drinks, 5-Hour Energy’s branding is not the hip, cool look that goes after the younger crowd. Hence, the brand fit with the 41-year-old Furyk, a husband and father of two. His “family man” persona was what 5-hour Energy decided on after talking to several younger golfers, sources said, including up-and-comers Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and others.
5-Hour Energy’s target in golf is the middle-aged businessman, the teacher, the blue-collar worker, anyone in that more mature professional space who’s trying to get through the afternoon at work and needs an energy boost. The company calls the afternoon lull “that 2:30 feeling.”
It’s part of a marketing strategy that has 5-Hour Energy taking on coffee rather than other energy drinks and advertising like crazy, increasingly so against sports. The brand title sponsors a Nationwide Series race in Dover and will serve as the primary sponsor for 24 Sprint Cup races on Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 car.
The financials of the deal with Furyk were not available, but sponsors typically pay in the high six figures to low seven figures for prime space on elite golfers in Furyk’s class.
The brand will use Furyk in TV, digital and print advertisements. It also has plans to make a large hospitality buy with the PGA Tour that will be designed to entertain 5-Hour Energy’s retail partners, such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, Costco and others.
Furyk is already among the top earners off the course, raking in close to $6 million a year from endorsement deals (see box). That, according to industry experts, puts him roughly in the top five male golfers.
National Car Rental’s “Go like a pro” slogan now applies to golf.
National is one of two new sponsors — cleaning company Jani-King is the other — that have completed deals with the PGA of America just in time for this week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. Both companies are looking to tap into the network of golf professionals and country clubs to drive business.
Both new partnerships will be announced this week at the merchandise show. National and Jani-King will have display space there to begin the process of marketing to the PGA pros and others in the industry.
Both deals provide the sponsors with marketing rights to the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, the Senior PGA and the Grand Slam of Golf, a competition that annually pits the four major champions.
Jani-King was a six-year partner with the PGA Tour before deciding to go in a different direction this year. The Dallas-based cleaning company has made a five-year commitment to the PGA of America.
Jani-King also is developing a roster of player endorsers: Chad Campbell, Harrison Frazar and Martin Flores.
National’s three-year deal with the PGA will be the car rental company’s primary platform for what chief marketer Patrick Farrell described as a strong move into golf.
“This is going to be part of a heavy spend in the golf space with TV, digital and print components,” Farrell said. “We were looking for a property that spoke to a very specific and narrow audience — the business traveler — with a very targeted message.”
Neither company released terms of their deals, but PGA sponsorships go for about seven figures annually, according to industry insiders.
The PGA’s highest level of patron sponsorships includes the class of American Express, Mercedes-Benz and Royal Bank of Canada. The next level counts KitchenAid, Lexmark, Omega, Pepsi and Westin as peers to newcomers National and Jani-King.
“This provides us with the assets to reach a lot of clubs and potentially provide a lot of business for our franchisees,” said Jerry Crawford, Jani-King’s president.
Crawford said Jani-King already services several hotels, motels, casinos, resorts and country clubs, and the PGA partnership will take the company deeper into the golf resort and club business.
The PGA deal is one of several that Jani-King has in sports where a sponsorship helps drive business-to-business relationships. Jani-King also works with TPC Sawgrass in golf, and a handful of facilities in the NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NFL, as well as handling the cleaning for a number of college facilities.
Mike Biggs, a former sports marketing consultant and 20 years ago a PGA of America executive, joined Jani-King recently as director of the company’s sports and venue program, and he will manage these relationships.
National, meanwhile, has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years after difficult times through the mid-2000s.
St. Louis-based National works with Cannonball, an advertising and promotions agency based near the headquarters. Cannonball also works with Anheuser-Busch brands Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Fleishman-Hillard handles National’s public relations.
National’s advertising will target golf even more with buys on NBC, CBS, Golf Channel and Turner Sports, as well as the digital properties accessed by those networks.
National is determining how it will activate with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., in August and the Ryder Cup a month later in Chicago. National also will title sponsor the PGA’s assistant club pro championship for the next three years.
“The worst part was the uncertainty,” said Jack Queally, an NFL licensee and president of outdoor game specialist Wild Sports, which is adding bocce and horseshoes to a collection of licensed outdoor games that began with the beanbag toss. “Early on, we saw some [major [retailers] go totally collegiate, but we ended with our best holiday season and e-commerce sales ever.”
To some degree, the extent of the damage depended upon the particular product category. Retro pennant and banner licensee Winning Streak Sports saw its NBA business increase, perhaps because its products are based on nostalgia, said national sales manager Jay Chaffee.
Likewise, Deuce Brand successfully introduced its new NCAA- and NBA-licensed “tube watches” to retailers, including Best Buy and Lids, before the lockout was settled. Not to be outdone, Game Time was showing similar MLB-, NHL- and NFL-logoed tube watches with a suggested retail price of $9.95.
“We all sold a little less for holiday because retailers weren’t ordering in the summer, but the lockouts just didn’t bury us like we were scared of,” said Game Time owner and CEO Adam Pennington.
Since it missed much of the holiday retail opportunity, and had its season shortened by 16 games per team, you’d figure the NBA would be hurt the most. Sal LaRocca, NBA executive vice president of global merchandising, said sales will be off around 25 percent. However, that’s 25 percent off a record 2010-11 season, meaning 2011-12 will still be an increase from the 2009-10 season.
As expected, long-lead products like trading cards and video games, which rely on rookie talent to stoke sales, suffered.
Exclusive trading-card licensee Panini slashed its NBA card releases from 17 to five and won’t include this year’s rookies until next season, hoping for a multiplier effect from two years of freshman talent packed into one.
However, some of the most endemic NBA licensed categories, like Spalding’s basketballs and backboards and Adidas’ on-court apparel, showed sales increases for July to December of 2011 compared with the same span in 2010, LaRocca said.
“We’ve seen very limited damage [from the lockout], if any,” said Mike Lunardelli, director of NBA licensed at Adidas, which was showing a new line of NBA warm-ups for next season that incorporated Adi’s three-stripe trademark and some new tertiary team logos for 15 teams. “The NBA consumer has always been more tied to fashion, and right now, it is on trend,” he said.
As for basketballs, the most endemic of categories?
“The team stuff dried up for a few months,” said Brett Ray, Spalding associate product manager, between attempts at a Pop-A-Shot machine, “but Wal-Mart and Target still bought basketballs, and it’s all coming back now.”
Consequently, a room full of people whose business fortunes depend on sports were as happy as they could be, having lived through a year with two lockouts. “There’s no storm clouds on the horizon after some years of economic concerns and labor worries, so we can all get on with business,” said WinCraft President John Killen.
There is another impending labor battle: The NHL’s CBA expires Sept. 15. But as Killen’s comments reflect, there was little talk about that at the show, even in hockey circles.
“Of course we’re concerned,” said Keith Leach, Reebok’s director of NHL merchandising, inside a crowded Adidas/Reebok booth, “but I haven’t had a single question about it [the CBA] here.”
With sustained sales from the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship hot market and a boost from the reborn Winnipeg Jets, NHL licensed sales were up double digits for July to December 2011 compared with the same period a year earlier, and that prior year was record-setting. Dave McCarthy, NHL vice president of consumer products licensing, said he was dealing with labor questions as they arose. “We’ve heard caution from some retailers regarding September and the CBA,” he said, “but I wouldn’t call it a big cloud.”
ANIMAL HOUSE: No doubt because of the success of Fabrique’s Pillow Pets licensed plush, there were more mascot-inspired licensed goods on display than items with player names and numbers. Cloaked under black cloth in the corner of the hall was Forever Collectibles’ booth, showcasing a line of mascot backpacks along with mascot mittens and a remarkable variety of novelty headwear, including a mascot headdress, a “sock monkey dangle,” long and short “mohawks” and “troll hair,’’ and a licensed jester cap. They should be at retail for the MLB season, with other licenses to follow, priced at $20 to $25. McCarthy projected novelty headwear as “this year’s Pillow Pets.”
After a yearlong blowout, Fabrique itself is trying to keep Pillow Pets alive by offering various extensions. Among the new lines are smaller sizes, name-and-number editions, blue and pink versions as gifts for parents of a baby boy or girl, and plush baseballs and footballs that unfold into mascots.
“We still see a lot of life in plush,” said Fabrique’s Tom DeLuca.
A CLASSIC MATCHUP: While NHL officials at the show were mum, numerous league licensees said they expect the Detroit Red Wings to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the next Winter Classic, likely at the Big House, the University of Michigan’s football stadium. A 2001 hockey game between Michigan State and Michigan drew 74,544 to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. A 2010 rematch of those teams in Ann Arbor at the Big House drew 113,411. Detroit visited Wrigley Field and the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 Winter Classic, and the Maple Leafs would mark the first appearance by a Canadian team in the showcase. Toronto would rate in the U.S. for NBC as well, if not better, than any other Canadian team, and the Detroit-Toronto rivalry is one of the league’s best. Coming into this season, the two teams had competed against each other in 643 games and seven Stanley Cup Finals, and they were tied for number of regular-season wins in that all-time series. Between them, the Red Wings and Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 24 times.
LICENSING LINES: Among the additions to our popular “Never seen a logo on that before” category: licensed paper towels from Tailgate Productions, which has a Lambeau Field license and several marks through Collegiate Licensing Co. on its Tailgate Towels. Considering those marks include BCS champion Alabama, which has 120 licensees producing championship products, there is a whole new way to “Roll Tide.” At $4 and up at retail, they are pricier than the generic competition, but with both tailgating and “homegating” continuing to grow, other licensed kitchen items, especially drinkware and cutting boards, were abundant. … We also noticed some of the growing market for women’s licensed products increasingly represented on the hard-goods side of the business, including Great American Products’ metallic women’s accessories, which include a logoed lipstick case, trinket box and compact, priced from $15 to $25; and iFanatic’s $55 Blingz iPhone case, with “Swarovski-style rhinestones.”
Terry Lefton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After dipping its toe in the NHRA waters with a display at a race last year, radio-control car manufacturer Traxxas is diving into the sport.
The company, which was founded in 1986 and makes radio-control cars with replaceable parts, signed a five-year agreement with the NHRA that gives it an array of assets, including rights to activate at 23 races, commercial inventory on ESPN and integration into the event program at races nationwide. The deal is valued in the high six to low seven figures annually.
Traxxas coupled the NHRA deal with a team sponsorship. It will be the primary sponsor of Courtney Force. The 23-year-old daughter of legendary drag racer John Force will make her debut as a Funny Car driver this year.
The NHRA and Force sponsorships are the latest in a series of motorsports deals negotiated by Traxxas. The company signed its first major sponsorship in 2009 when it became the title sponsor of The Off-Road Championship series. It also has deals with AMA Supercross and Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Traxxas President Mike Jenkins credits the deals with helping the company grow by 20 percent annually over the last three years. It claims 50 percent of the radio-control car market, and its products are sold in 50 countries.
“Sponsorship’s done us well,” Jenkins said. “The environment at NHRA races is ideal. It’s ideal in that the fan is engaged in the sport and then there’s a big break from racing. They’re going to the pits, and you have an opportunity to capture them and spend more time with them.”
Jenkins said the company will set up displays during races where fans can drive Traxxas cars and buy parts and cars. The NHRA also plans to bring Traxxas cars onto the drag strip between races to entertain fans.
“This is a great shot in the arm for us, and I think it’s going to be important to our fans, as well,” NHRA President Tom Compton said. “They’re going to bring energy and excitement to the sport.”
In addition to signs, Jeep will have a vehicle on a competition course.
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
EA Sports will have a branded bench where competitors sit before entering the halfpipe, Red Bull will have signage on the slopestyle course and Jeep will have a vehicle displayed on the slopestyle course during competition, which begins Thursday in Aspen, Colo.
“So much of the value of sponsoring the X Games is on-site, and giving them some of the highest-profile position on course enables us to get deeper into their business,” said Mark Nolan, vice president of X Games sales.
ESPN sold 11 sponsorships across three categories for this year’s X Games: official partners, event sponsors and other sponsors. Last year, it sold 25 sponsorships across five categories: official partners, multimedia sponsors, TV-only sponsors, digital-only sponsors and sponsors.
The company this year signed four official sponsorships with Red Bull, Jeep, the U.S. Navy, and Verizon and Casio, which are collaborating to promote Casio’s G’zOne Ravine phone. Those sponsors receive rights to the X Games marks, on-site activation, on-site signage and a fully integrated media buy across ESPN’s TV, digital, print and radio platforms.
The North Face, Vitaminwater, EA Sports and “Act of Valor,” a film about Navy SEALs, signed on as event sponsors and will receive on-site signage, on-site hospitality and activation rights, and TV, digital, radio and print advertising. GoPro, GNC and Loctite signed on as other sponsors and each received customized assets.
The 2011 Winter X Games sponsors who didn’t return this year were: official partner BF Goodrich; multimedia partner Oakley; TV-only sponsors Axe, State Farm, Sony Video Games, Monster, Burton, Apple, Disney and Samsung Mobile; digital-only sponsors Frontier and Spirit airlines; and sponsors Texas Pete, Polaris, Contour, Arma, Nixon Watches and UFC.
“We’ve been more concerned with doing deeper integrations with our clients and less concerned with the number of clients we have,” Nolan said. “The less sponsors probably the more opportunity we have to get deeper into their business, understanding what their marketing goals are and creating programs on-air, online or on-site that achieve that goal.”
The X Games’ contract with Aspen Skiing Co. to hold its event at Buttermilk Mountain is up at the end of this year. The event has been held there since 2002. The city of Aspen has paid $100,000 annually to Aspen Skiing Co. as part of an incentive package to ESPN for bringing the X Games to town.
Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and global X Games for ESPN, said that he expects to meet with Aspen Skiing Co. executives during the event. He didn’t have a deadline for a new agreement.