SBJ/March 5-11, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Allstate getting hands on NCAA partnership

    Allstate has designs on turning March Madness into March Mayhem.

    The insurance giant, a prominent player in college football over the years, has signed a multiyear contract to become an NCAA corporate partner, effective immediately.

    The deal, brokered by the NCAA’s rights holders, Turner Sports and CBS Sports, gives Allstate full marketing, promotional and advertising rights to the upcoming NCAA tournament and fills the highly competitive insurance category.

    “Given where we stand in the college sports world, this is a natural,” said Pam Hollander, Allstate’s senior director of sponsorship marketing. “This certainly deepens our very unique position in college sports and gives us relationships with the crème de la crème of events in this space.”

    An announcement on Allstate’s partnership is expected this week. Financial terms of the deal were not available, but NCAA corporate sponsorships have been increasing in cost since the NCAA’s new 14-year, $11 billion contract with Turner and CBS kicked in a little more than a year ago.

    Corporate partnerships are believed to cost $10 million to $15 million a year now — typically over three years, industry sources say — with heavy TV and digital media on Turner’s networks and CBS added in.

    IMG handles sponsorship strategy for Allstate and was involved in the discussions on this deal.

    Mark LaNeve, Allstate’s former chief marketer who resigned last week, was a proponent of the sponsorship and championed the deal until his departure, sources said. The contract already was signed before LaNeve, a former General Motors executive, announced his resignation on Feb. 27. The change is not expected to have any bearing on the NCAA deal going forward.

    Other activation opportunities, such as a presence in Bracket Town, the on-site fan fest at the Final Four, costs an additional $250,000 to $350,000, depending on how much space the sponsor requires.

    Allstate officials said the company will have a display area inside Bracket Town in New Orleans from March 28 through April 2 at the Final Four.

    They will use that time to launch a college sports-themed giveaway with a prize package that includes a trip for two to the 2013 Final Four as well as the 2013 BCS championship game. Allstate, title sponsor of the Sugar Bowl, also has BCS marketing rights.

    The company’s marketing department staffers know their way around the Big Easy. Many of them were in New Orleans for two weeks during the Sugar Bowl and the BCS championship game.

    Allstate handles its own on-site marketing for those football games, and it remains to be seen if it will be able to recreate any of those activations for the Final Four.

    “It’s like building an airplane while it’s taking off,” Hollander said of the quick turnaround between the deal’s conclusion and March Madness. “We certainly plan to show up and take advantage of every aspect of the relationship to make it as fun and engaging as it can be for fans and for our agents.”

    'Mayhem' will feature actor Dean Winters.
    Allstate’s creative for March Madness is still in the works with its ad agency, Leo Burnett, but its “Mayhem” campaign will figure prominently. With just a slight twist, “Mayhem” will become “March Mayhem” and play perfectly into the March Madness theme around the tournament.

    “Mayhem,” which launched in 2010, stars villainous actor Dean Winters portraying the mayhem that can strike car owners.

    Winters’ character already has been worked into Allstate print ads that will appear in the NCAA tournament programs, and TV creative will feature Mayhem as well.

    Leo Burnett is thought to be working on multiple basketball-themed spots that will run during the tournament.

    Before Allstate came along, State Farm had been the NCAA’s official insurance partner since 2005, but relinquished those rights last year, leaving the category without a sponsor.

    That vacancy didn’t last long. Industry sources said there was immediate interest from Allstate last summer, and discussions with Turner and CBS progressed over the course of the year and into early 2012.

    The deal grants Allstate marketing rights to all of the NCAA’s 89 championships. Among the championships that typically receive the most activation focus from NCAA partners are baseball, hockey and lacrosse.

    The NCAA partnership will fit nicely into Allstate’s portfolio of college assets. In addition to the Sugar Bowl title sponsorship, its “Good Hands” field goal nets program has successfully integrated Allstate into the college football game from the regular season through the postseason since 2005.

    Allstate now has 71 college relationships through the nets program. The company also has a relationship with the American Football Coaches Association, through which it sponsors the Good Works Team.

    Outside of the college space, Allstate is the official insurance for the U.S. Olympic Committee and MLS.

    The heavy sports spending comes as Allstate competes with State Farm in a hyper-competitive category, as Allstate currently ranks second to State Farm in market share.

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  • Infiniti draws on interviews with 48 coaches for March Madness promotion

    Infiniti is working with an unprecedented number of college basketball coaches to promote its new “Round by Round” bracket challenge during March Madness.

    Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Baylor’s Scott Drew and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan are among the 48 coaches who conducted interviews for Infiniti, which is using the video in spots to plug the automaker’s digital activation.

    That’s the most coaches an NCAA sponsor has ever put to work in a campaign, said Fishbait Marketing’s Rick Jones, who serves as the marketing director for the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

    The coaches are not compensated for the spots. They volunteer their time, typically 30 minutes or so, because Infiniti is donating money to the NABC’s charity, Coaches vs. Cancer. Most of Infiniti’s interviews with the coaches were conducted last July at a high school basketball camp in Las Vegas that most top recruits attend.

    The video is used in spots ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes on a variety of digital platforms, including and AOL, to talk about Coaches vs. Cancer. They also encourage viewers to visit the new Infiniti “Round by Round” bracket challenge, which will launch in the coming weeks with the start of the NCAA tournament.

    Infiniti has pledged a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $700,000 to Coaches vs. Cancer, based on participation in the “Round by Round.”

    Infiniti, in its second year as an NCAA corporate partner, used 16 coaches last year and found them so effective as authentic pitchmen that it tripled the number this year.

    “The feedback we got from coaches last year was that they really liked it and they actually encouraged us to expand it,” said Jim DeTrude, Infiniti’s marketing director. “So that’s what we did.”

    Many of the coaches, plus CBS talent Greg Anthony and Seth Davis and Turner’s Ernie Johnson, also will be posting on Twitter to promote the contest.

    OMD’s Los Angeles office handles media strategy for Infiniti, which also uses Los Angeles-based TBWA/Chiat/Day as its ad agency.

    The online component is part of a much deeper and broader activation this year for Infiniti, which joined the NCAA’s list of corporate partners two months before last year’s NCAA tournament.

    For the first time, Infiniti will have on-site activation at the Final Four. It will sponsor the Tailgate Tipoff at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, where it will display its new luxury crossover vehicle, the JX. It also will host thousands of Infiniti owners and prospective buyers at the Superdome’s Club 44, which will be rebranded the Infiniti Lounge during the Final Four.

    “We’re much deeper in our integration this year,” DeTrude said. “In year one, we were there as a media-only partner. So we’ve taken that next step and really grown the partnership in the number of coaches we use, our digital presence, our on-site presence and what we’re doing in the social space. It’s a much deeper engagement with the fan at every level of how they experience the tournament.”

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  • Good Luck: QB, Nike near deal

    Likely No. 1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck is close to signing a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Nike, numerous industry sources said last week. A source close to the deal said that an agreement in principle with the Stanford quarterback was reached in late February, with a final contract expected to be signed shortly.

    Stanford is a Nike school, so Luck is used to wearing a swoosh.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    The move comes as Nike assumes NFL on-field apparel rights April 1 for the next five years, taking over from Reebok.

    Luck will be the lead athlete for Nike’s marketing efforts in and around the April NFL draft, and may also take part in a launch of Nike’s NFL uniforms, which are expected to be shown to NFL owners at their March meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., and revealed publicly for the first time in April.

    “There’s a reason Luck is a consensus No. 1 pick,” said the source, adding that an ad shoot is expected sometime this month.

    Luck is represented by Wasserman Media Group’s Will Wilson, his uncle. At the Super Bowl, Wilson was asked how many deals were likely for Luck before the draft. “We’ll look at the obvious categories, like footwear and trading cards/memorabilia first, but our mantra with Andrew is that less is more,” Wilson said. “We will build a measured plan, most of which will take place after the draft.’’

    Wilson was not asked specifically about a possible Nike deal.

    This is one of the most quarterback-heavy NFL drafts in years. Luck is often characterized as Peyton Manning “with speed,” while Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III is said to have Michael Vick’s speed, but considerably more size.

    On and off the field, the battle between Luck and “RG3” will be intriguing, as each is expected to be a franchise player. Stanford is a Nike school, so Luck is used to wearing a swoosh. Griffin recently signed with Adidas, but he wore Nike at Baylor.

    “From the outside, and without knowing where Griffin will play, I’m a little more attracted to him from a marketing perspective, because of his athletic ability in and out of football, and because the teams that have shown interest in trading for the right to choose him, like Washington and Miami, are high-visibility marketers,” said David Pace, a former Reebok marketer, now an independent consultant. “Either will be the face of franchise soon.’’

    “The fact [that Griffin] is a multisport athlete was attractive to us, since we’re a multisport brand looking at an Olympic year,” said David Baxter, Adidas vice president of sport performance. “He’s just an explosive athlete, so we can use him across multiple platforms, and someone who will add to our credibility.”

    Adidas has a roster of about 20 NFL players, including Reggie Bush. Griffin is the only quarterback in its stable. However, it no longer has NFL on-field footwear rights, so determining what its strategy will be when it comes to America’s top sports property is an interesting question.

    “I don’t think it is an NFL strategy, it’s a football strategy,” Baxter said. “We want to be credible to the game and we want to be sure we are close to their athletes.”

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  • Phillips 66 tie to Big 12 hoops 25 years strong

    The first contract for Phillips 66 to title sponsor the Big Eight Conference basketball tournament covered just one year. The deal, executed barely a week before the 1988 tournament tipped off, was little more than an experiment at a time when college title sponsorships were rare.

    Entering its 25th conference tournament as the title sponsor this week for what is now the Big 12, Phillips 66 glows about what is believed to be the longest-running title sponsorship of a college event. The closest comparison would have been the 21-year-old title sponsorship FedEx had with the Orange Bowl before FedEx bowed out in 2010.

    Phillips 66’s name is on the Big 12’s men’s and women’s basketball and baseball tournaments.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    “When you think about all of the changes that can happen, from executive turnover to changes in ownership, title sponsorships just don’t last like that anymore,” said Ken Haines, president and CEO of Raycom Sports, the company that negotiated the first contract on behalf of the conference.

    Since 1988, the Phillips 66 sponsorship has weathered changes in marketing executives, turnovers at the CEO level and even a merger with Conoco a decade ago. But it lives on with a relatively simple blocking-and-tackling execution that includes heavy hospitality of the marketers and distributors who buy Phillips 66 gas, promotions at retail and a strong brand presence developed over years of having its name and logo embedded within the tournament.

    It’s a formula that has survived the test of time and required relatively few tweaks along the way for a company that is rooted in Big 12 country and recruits most of its employees within the conference’s footprint. Phillips 66 typically spends three-quarters of its employee recruitment budget with Big 12 schools. In the Beijing office of ConocoPhillips, the parent company, you’re likely to see University of Oklahoma posters on one wall and University of Texas posters on another, evidence of the tie between the brand and the conference.

    “It works,” said Bob Pomeroy, who oversaw the deal for Phillips 66 for a decade until his retirement in 2005. “A lot of it is good will. I can’t tell you how many letters I’d get from all over Big 12 country from people saying how much they appreciated the support. It’s the kind of thing you’d only find in college sports.”

    The original one-year trial deal was followed by a five-year contract, again negotiated by Raycom, the Big Eight’s multimedia partner at the time. That deal called for Phillips 66 to pay $300,000 for the sponsorship fee and another $342,000 in seasonlong advertising with Raycom, which produced and broadcast the conference games back then. Raycom’s commission was 25 percent of the sponsorship fee, with 75 percent going to the conference.

    Of course, those figures grew over the course of the last two decades and now the sponsor spends in the low seven figures annually with ESPN Regional Television, the current multimedia rights holder for the Big 12.

    Phillips 66 is in the final year of this deal and talks are ongoing about an extension.

    Raycom eventually lost the conference’s rights to a competing agency, Creative Sports, led by Pete Derzis, in 1993. A year later, Creative was bought by ESPN and rebranded into ESPN Regional Television, which still holds the rights. Derzis is now the senior vice president and general manager of that ESPN division in Charlotte, continuing the long-standing relationship between the conference, the rights holder and the sponsor.

    “We were involved in other deals where it was obvious that everybody was out for their own good, and this deal has never been like that,” Pomeroy said. “The Big 12 and ESPN were always looking out for us and we appreciated that.”

    Tim Allen, the veteran Big 12 administrator who was a media coordinator back in the days of the Big Eight and has been around for all 25 of the Phillips 66-sponsored tournaments, was known for his creativity in finding new ways to display the Phillips 66 shield in a way the TV cameras couldn’t miss.

    “As the tournament manager, I’d go stand in every section of the arena and look for subtle places to put the shield,” Allen said. “One year, we made up water-cooler holders next to each bench, which put the Phillips shield in the camera shot every time the ball went up and down the court. We put it on the pad cover under the goal. One year, we didn’t tell them where the new place for the logo would be.”

    Allen had turned the placement of Phillips 66 signage into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Each season, he’d try to be more creative than the last, watching numerous games on television in an effort to find ideas for the placement of the red shield. It was during the ’90s that Allen put the 66 shield on the back of the shot clock that was positioned over the backboard.

    This was in the days when the shot clock was a square black box and a lone screen faced toward the court,
    Big 12 executive Tim Allen is an expert at finding new vantage points for the Phillips 66 shield at the conference’s basketball tournament.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES (4)
    unlike today’s three-sided shot clock. The Phillips 66 logo fit nicely on the back of the old shot clock and was visible to thousands of fans in the corners and end zones of Kemper Arena in Kansas City. A motorized fan on the back of the shot clock kept the device cool, so Allen had to cut slits into thePhillips shield so that air could flow through the sign and keep the shot clock from overheating.

    “There’s such a strong identity that’s been built up over the years between Phillips 66 and the tournament,” said Gary Thompson, whose Ames, Iowa, oil company spends millions annually buying Phillips 66 gas for his stations. “It’s particularly valuable to us here in Big 12 country. The promotions are something that our customers look forward to, and we really like it from the retail end because it gets customers in the stores.”

    Thompson, a former Phillips 66 executive who went on to build his own oil business, is one of those business-to-business invitees who comes back to the tournament every year. Over the years, Phillips 66’s ticket allotment has grown to 600 and it has added heavy hospitality for its best customers within the Founders Club, an entertainment area inside the Sprint Center in Kansas City, where the tournament is being held this year. Tickets to regular-season basketball games at campus sites, and even tickets to football bowl games that feature Big Eight or Big 12 teams were part of the sponsorship in the past.

    The relationship between the company and the conference has blossomed over the past decade with Phillips 66 picking up the title sponsorship for the Big 12 women’s basketball tournament and the baseball tournament. Phillips 66’s only other sponsorship is with the St. Louis Cardinals, although the parent company, ConocoPhillips, does have a corporate relationship with USA Swimming, a deal that rotates different ConocoPhillips brands on the charitable “Make a Splash” program.

    But for Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips 66, a company that used to sponsor the Phillips 66ers semi-pro team, hoops is where the heart is. When he still worked at Phillips 66, Thompson was part of the strong basketball culture that still exists within the company.

    The 66ers, who won several AAU national championships and competed in leagues that were considered alternatives to the NBA at the time, were a place for former college stars to play while also working on their executive careers. At that time, they thought they could make more money as a professional in the oil business than a professional in the NBA. So the 66ers provided a way for them to keep playing while working for the company. Other companies, like Goodyear and Caterpillar, also sponsored teams in leagues like the National Industrial Basketball League.

    Many of those former players, like Thompson and Charlie Bowerman, went on to become high-ranking and influential executives within Phillips 66. Bowerman, who is in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, was the vice president of marketing when the company first sponsored the Big Eight tournament.

    That strong attachment between the company and basketball has helped sustain the sponsorship through the years.
    “It’s more than a sponsorship,” Pomeroy said. “I’ve got friends now at the Big 12 or ESPN that I still talk to, and I’ve been retired for a while. But they are friends of mine forever.”

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  • Stella’s off to the races with Churchill deal

    Stella Artois is the new official beer of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby in a multiyear deal that marks the first time the Anheuser-Busch brand has signed a sponsorship with a U.S. sporting event of national prominence.

    The deal is expected to be announced today.

    Stella Artois, an Anheuser-Busch brand will be featured at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.
    Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but a source said it was valued in the seven figures annually. The deal also gives Stella rights as the official beer of the Kentucky Oaks, the race for 3-year-old fillies held the day before the Derby.

    Stella replaces A-B brand Bud Select, which had been the sponsor of Churchill and the races since 2008. Its deal expired last year. Prior to Bud Select, Coors Light held the sponsorship.

    “It’s the Super Bowl of horse racing,” said Brad Brown, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing for A-B, of the Derby. “It’s a very important property for us and it will be a great opportunity for the Stella brand.”

    A-B will have an additional ad buy on the NBC broadcast of the May 5 Derby, which is often one of the highest-rated sporting events of the second quarter of the year, but Brown said he did not know whether Stella or other A-B brands would be featured in commercials around the broadcast.

    With the sponsorship, Stella will be featured at Churchill events year-round, including the venue’s Downs After Dark night racing program. The deal also covers social events held the week before the Derby, including the Opening Night festivities the Saturday one week prior to the race and the Thursday night Taste of the Derby event. Presenting sponsorship of the red-carpet entrances at Churchill for VIPs for the Oaks and Derby are part of the deal as well, Brown said.

    A-B gained the Stella brand as part of its deal with InBev in 2008. Although the Belgian brand has sponsored local and regional sporting events, the Derby is the first major U.S. sporting event that the brand has sponsored, Brown said. Part of the attraction of the Derby, he said, is that it is a “very social, high-end event,” making it a good fit for Stella, which has a higher price point than many other A-B beer brands.

    Globally, Stella for 30 years was title sponsor of a summer ATP event in England. That branding for the Stella Artois Championships ended in 2008.

    Kristin Warfield, Churchill vice president of partnerships, said a few more sponsorships are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, but she did not provide further details. Churchill recently announced Moët & Chandon champagne as a sponsor. The Derby did not previously have a champagne brand as a sponsor.

    Moët & Chandon and Stella are two examples of the kind of brands Churchill Downs has been pursuing as part of an overall philosophy to position the Derby as a high-end event, as well as a piece of Americana. Churchill Downs CEO Bob Evans has been working in recent years to make the Derby known not only for its label as the most exciting two minutes in sports, but also as a social and entertainment event that’s a weeklong celebration of horse racing.

    “Anheuser-Busch’s switch of brands that they want to associate with the Derby I think reflects the fact Churchill has been presenting the Derby brand differently,” Evans said. “That is where we have been trying to get.”

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  • A licensing idea that’s really nuts

    David Alper owns New York Giants season tickets that were once his dad’s, and he started going to Giants games when he was teething. So you would think he has seen everything possible to make with a “NYG” logo on it.

    However, faced with time to kill in Indianapolis before the recent Super Bowl, he stopped at a merchandise store at the NFL Experience and found something unique: a string of Giants and Super Bowl XLVI-logoed kukui nuts. That he was already wearing a Giants jersey and a cap already didn’t matter; he forked over $30 for a Giants/Super Bowl lei necklace.

    “A lot of that stuff was cookie-cutter, but these jumped right out,” said Alper. “They really allow you to show off a logo in a place people aren’t expecting it.”

    Since the Giants won their fourth Super Bowl title hours later, Alper may never take them off. The beads brought him good luck, or ia manuia, as they would say in the South Pacific, where they are made.

    Willie Salave’a has found a niche with team-logoed jewelry made from kukui nuts.
    Photo by: TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
    The licensed kukui nuts are the brainchild of Willie Salave’a, a Samoan who’s been granted permission by MLB, MLS, the NBA, NFL and NHL in the past 10 months to sell licensed kukui nut leis. Salave’a’s Style Pasifika company has grown from two people sharing a folding table and a “shipping center” that doubled as a garage to eight full-time employees, 25 sales representatives and projected sales of $3.5 million this year.

    For Super Bowl orders this year, the company bought and strung together 1.3 million kukui nuts. It now claims to be the world’s biggest purchaser of kukui nuts, surpassing the state of Hawaii, wherein kukui is the state tree. However, Style Pasifika’s kukui nuts come from the Philippine island of Mindanao, where the jewelry is also made.

    Kukui nuts have been polished and strung as leis and other jewelry by South Pacific islanders for years. They have also
    been used in cooking and to manufacture dyes, inks, candles and oils. Not until recently however, were they a licensed product.

    Salave’a grew his Las Vegas business from being the largest importer of Hawaiian floral leis to the pioneer of licensed kukui nuts almost coincidentally, when a company he was buying floral leis from sent him a bunch of orange and black painted kukui nuts.

    Salave’a figured it was cheaper to make leis out of the nuts than to return them. In 2006, while the leis were on sale inside a Vegas casino, a woman who ran the San Francisco Giants fan club asked if she could order 500 leis, since black and orange are the Giants’ colors. Salave’a saw a business opportunity.

    In 2007, he went to a college trade show with logos painted on beads, not knowing a license was required. Eventually he became a sublicensee of an affiliate of the Collegiate Licensing Company. By 2008, he had his own license, and with the help of some Polynesia marketing support in the form of costumed dancers in parking lots outside of USC Trojans football games, gross sales were as high $15,000 per game.

    “They’re like a jersey you wear around your neck,” said Salave’a.

    The cultural connection, which Style Pasifika plays up with ties to the NFL’s Samoan players, also helps.

    “Everyone has great memories of the islands and you put that together with the passions that fans have, it’s a real emotional pull,” Salave’a said.

    Further ia manuia came his way when his booth at a licensing show happened to be near Gene Goldberg, who had recently become an industry consultant after almost 30 years with the NFL’s licensing group. Nobody gets an NFL license quickly, but Style Pasifika was granted a license within four months, and licenses from the other leagues followed quickly.

    “This is a licensed product that speaks directly to why sports are important to people — they are a community, a connection. People want to show that, and this is a unique way,” said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing.

    Added NBA licensing chief Sal LaRocca, “They are unique and authentic. Those are two crucial qualities in making sports appealing, so there’s a natural fit.”

    NFL kukui products arrived at retail just as the season started and are now available in team shops, Lids, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Following the kukui leis, now at retail are bracelets (around $14) and earrings (around $10) that will get their official launch at this week’s NFL Consumer Products Summit in Kansas City.

    Next is the crucial question for any new licensing hit: Are they a fad or enduring?

    “There have been Mardi Gras bead licenses for years; for now this is a one-of-a-kind. As long as it stays that way, there will be a market,” Goldberg said.

    “Because this is a unisex product, I feel like we have another five years, and we’ll be adding more things from the islands, like surfing and tiki images,” said Salave’a, whose company has also been making licensed products for the Harlem Globetrotters and Jimmy Buffett. Smiling, he adds, “Of course, a lot of people think I’m nuts. But I take that as a compliment.”

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  • Hendrick close to filling sponsorship inventory with Chinese solar company Trina Solar

    Hendrick Motorsports is close to finalizing a nine-race primary sponsorship with Trina Solar, a Chinese solar panel manufacturer, for its No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry.

    The deal will see Trina appear alongside Farmers Insurance on Kasey Kahne’s car at nine races this season.
    Financial terms of the agreement weren’t available, but a deal of this size with a premier NASCAR team typically would be worth more than $5 million a year.

    Trina Solar executives could not be reached before deadline. Hendrick Motorsports was unavailable for comment.

    Trina Solar is new to NASCAR but not motorsports. In 2010, the company signed as an official sponsor of the Lotus Renault Formula One team. It provides solar panels for the Renault paddock and hospitality facilities at races, and has branding on the side of the team’s F1 car. It signed the F1 deal in hopes of raising its brand awareness and increasing adoption of solar energy use worldwide.

    Trina is the world’s fifth-largest solar panel maker. The publicly traded company has a market capitalization of $551.7 million and generated just over $2 billion in revenue in 2011. It reported a loss of $37.8 million last year and has lost 69 percent of its market value over the last year.

    The Trina-Hendrick agreement is a win for both the team and NASCAR. It fills all of the remaining open inventory at Hendrick Motorsports and allows the team to retain a few paint schemes on the No. 5 car for Hendrick Automotive, the dealership chain also owned by Rick Hendrick. It also puts another green sponsor into NASCAR at a time when the sport is making a concerted push to add partners with businesses devoted to sustainability.

    The deal is the first in the solar category for a Sprint Cup team, and NASCAR doesn’t have an official solar partner.

    The Charlotte-based agency Sports Marketing Consultants led by Andrew Campagnone worked on the deal.

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