SBJ/September 10-16, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Camcorder maker Ion drops in on Dew Tour

Ion Worldwide, a new point-of-view camcorder company, is jumping into the world of action sports, signing a multiyear title deal for the final stop of the 2012 Dew Tour and endorsements with three athletes.

The deals are designed to help the company chip away at marketplace leader GoPro, which signed skater Ryan Sheckler and other action sports athletes to promote its camera.

The Dew Tour cut the number of stops this year from seven to three.
Photo by: WWW.THUMBSUPPHOTO.COM
Like GoPro, Ion Worldwide’s pocket-sized product, the Ion Air Pro, can be attached to a helmet, snowboard or skateboard and used to record footage of everything from a day on the mountain to a session in the skatepark. It also offers Wi-Fi connectivity so that videos can be instantly uploaded to the Web. The base model costs $229.99.

The company wants to make a big entrance into the market before Christmas and sees the Dew Tour’s last stop, in Breckenridge, Colo., on Dec. 13-16, as a great way to do that. The event will be known as the Ion Mountain Championships, and Ion will have footage shot with its camera integrated into broadcast coverage on NBC and NBC Sports Network. It also will receive digital ad inventory, on-site activation rights, event signs and 30 ad units in NBC and NBC Sports Network Dew Tour programming in 2012, with additional units in subsequent years.

Ion’s deal with the Dew Tour is valued at $2 million to $3 million a year. It gives Alli Sports, NBC Universal’s action sports division, its eighth partner of the Dew Tour and closes out all of the commercial inventory in the Dew Tour’s 33 hours of programming.

“This was the last package we were in the market with,” said Alli Sports President Wade Martin. “We’re truly sold out, at this point, in terms of inventory and total number of partners.”

Ion is supplementing the sponsorship through deals with freestyle motocross rider Jeremy Stenberg, BMX rider Corey Bohan and surfer Reed McIntosh. Financial terms of the endorsements weren’t available. Each athlete will film and post videos to his own social media outlets and websites using Ion cameras. The company also plans to sign skiers and snowboarders later this year.

“It’s a statement that we’re making,” said Giovanni Tomaselli, Ion Worldwide’s founder, owner and CEO. “We want to be able to really demonstrate that we have the commitment to this.”

Ion will promote its ties to the Dew Tour through a retail sweepstakes that will award trips to the Breckenridge Dew Tour event to winners from Japan, Europe and Australia.

It has partnered with bike manufacturer Mongoose and Camp Woodward, a youth camp for skaters and BMX riders, to demonstrate its cameras on-site at the Dew Tour stop in San Francisco on Oct. 18-21. Kids will be able to use Ion cameras while they ride bikes and skateboards in Mongoose and Woodward demonstration areas. Video editors will help the kids upload their footage, and some of the videos will be posted on a giant TV screen during the event.

“We want to engage with athletes and get them using the product,” said Braly Joy, Ion’s marketing manager. “We’re focused on what you can do after you capture the images and how you can share it much faster. The athletes are really gravitating to that.”

Ion is the first new company to sign with the Dew Tour since it overhauled its structure. The series downsized this year from seven events to three. The move, which was wanted by title sponsor Mountain Dew, was designed to allow Alli Sports to make tour stops bigger and better. The tour also reduced its total number of sponsors from 20 to 12.

The first event, held in Ocean City, Md., last month, drew 93,000 people, up from 73,000 in 2011. The next stop will take place near San Francisco’s city hall.

Ion is working with Flow Sports of San Clemente, Calif., on its brand marketing and distribution. It also works with BWP Group, a European ad agency, and Chainsaw Productions, a California-based video production group.

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