SBJ/January 30-February 5, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • IndyCar begins work on website changes

    After several years of sharing digital staff with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series is building out a staff of its own and beginning to revamp its website.

    The sanctioning body hired the digital marketing agency Terralever to redevelop its website. The agency, which is based in Phoenix, worked on websites for Red Bull’s NASCAR team and Goodyear’s blimp. It will replace IndyCar’s current digital agency, Racersites.

    Kasey Coler, director of IndyCar marketing, said the change will give the series more control over the look and feel of its website. Racersites typically charged the series for any changes it made.

    “We wanted flexibility,” Coler said. “This will have full social integration. We’re looking to have a lot of things that are automated. This system will have everything fully integrated so that when someone updates something on the Web, it’s pushed out socially as well.”

    Coler said the look and feel of the series’ website will be changing. The series is still in the process of determining how.

    Another change will be the sponsor integration. The new site will still have banner ads, but Coler said IndyCar plans to integrate partners into content it offers online more than it has in the past.

    In addition to hiring Terralever, IndyCar is in the process of hiring a Web developer. The developer will work at IndyCar and have a team of two to three colleagues working on the series’ website.

    “We’d like to continue to add positions, but right now we’re lean and mean,” Coler said.

    Verizon will continue to manage IndyCar’s mobile offerings. The company is expected to debut an IndyCar mobile app in March, Coler said.

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  • LPGA adds more players to personality-driven campaign

    The LPGA began a brand campaign last year as a way to highlight the personalities of its players. The tour is taking it a step further this year with four new spots that will debut this week on Golf Channel and a variety of other platforms, including the LPGA’s international TV partners and Global Golf Post, a digital golf magazine.

    Serial tweeter @themichellewie stars in a spot with Suzann Pettersen.
    The campaign is called “See why it’s different out here” and covers everything from Morgan Pressel’s shoe collection to Michelle Wie’s addiction to Twitter. There are four spots in all, three 30-second spots and a 15-second one.

    The production was done by Sacred Cow Advertising, Austin, Texas, the same group that initiated the brand campaign last year.

    “The spots feature a really natural dialogue between the players and exposes more of what they’re about, in terms of their personalities,” said Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketing officer. “Last year we featured a couple of players and this year there are a lot more. It really builds on what we started last year and we’re thrilled with the way the players deliver in these spots.”

    Among the players featured: Brittany Lincicome, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi, Wie and Pressel, along with highlights from last season.

    Each spot ends with a player directing the viewer to the LPGA’s Twitter page, Facebook page or official website, LPGA.com.

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  • NLL happy with season’s start

    George Daniel, commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, had reason to be concerned when the season opened a few weeks ago. The scheduling gods weren’t working in the NLL’s favor.

    A crowd of 16,356 greeted the Bandits’ opener in Buffalo.
    Photo by: BILL WIPPERT
    One of the league’s top draws, the Colorado Mammoth, had its first game in Denver’s Pepsi Center in the same time slot that the Tim Tebow-led Broncos played at New England in the AFC playoffs. But, as usual, the Mammoth and their loyal fan base came through. Despite the distraction caused by the NFL, the Mammoth drew 14,106 fans, which remains the second-highest attendance figure two weeks into the NLL season.

    “We’re off to a really good start and we’re seeing attendance numbers on the rise,” Daniel said. “We give teams a lot of latitude with their tickets, but having said that, most teams are being very strict with their comp tickets. We’re a ticket-driven league, and our teams put a very high premium on the value of the tickets. That’s our major source of revenue.”

    The NLL began its season earlier this month with nine teams, most of them based in the lacrosse hotbed of the Northeast U.S. and Canada. It also leaped into 2012 with a new TV deal on CBS Sports Network that will put eight games, including the league’s championship contest, in prime time.

    Most notably, the two-year barter arrangement gives the league a consistent 7:30 p.m. ET time slot. Both the league and the network are selling advertising.

    Last year’s games were on Versus.

    “We’ve never had a live prime-time window in our 26 years, so this is a very good fit with CBS,” Daniel said. “There’s also going to be a lot of college lacrosse on the network that will serve as a great lead-in for us.”

    Nine games into the season, the league is drawing an average of 9,960 fans, slightly up from last year’s average of 9,722. Crowds have solidly been in the 8,000 to 9,000 range, with Buffalo, another traditionally strong draw, bringing in 16,356 for its home opener at the First Niagara Center.

    The only soft spot has been the Washington franchise, which drew fewer than 5,000 fans for its first game. The only team that didn’t play a home game in the first two weeks was Minnesota, which typically draws well.

    In Canada, where the league has franchises in the Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto markets, TSN will carry 11 games. The league also has its eyes on Vancouver as another potential franchise site north of the border.

    The NLL has done well with dual ownership models in concert with NHL owners. Three of the nine NLL teams are owned and operated by NHL teams — Calgary, Buffalo and Colorado. “It brings a certain level of credibility, stability and marketing expertise to the teams in those markets,” Daniel said. “If you can get it, it’s good to have.”

    In the U.S., the NLL sees potential in Pittsburgh and Detroit and would like to return to the New York market.

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