SBJ/May 6-12, 2013/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Indy 500 and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Helio Castroneves has hired The Elevation Group to represent him for marketing opportunities.
The Brazilian open-wheel champion has known Elevation founder Denny Young for more than a decade and approached him late last year about handling his marketing business. He is the first driver that Young has represented since 2003.
The business partners first got to know each other in the early 2000s when Young represented Castroneves’ former teammate at Penske Racing, Gil de Ferran.
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Young already has landed one personal-service agreement for Castroneves. Royal Caribbean International signed him to promote its new ship, Quantum of the Seas. Castroneves is featured in a digital video and 30-second TV spot alongside Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth and former “Seinfeld” star Estelle Harris.
The goal is to land Castroneves four more “anchor partners,” Young said. As a driver with Penske Racing, Castroneves also has relationships with Chevrolet, Verizon, Hitachi, Izod, Shell and other brands.
“I am focused on relationships that step beyond the racetrack,” Young said. “That sounds like something someone would say in my position, but because Helio’s celebrity steps way outside the racing world and he is a regular in People magazine and other places, he becomes a different guy to take to market.”
Castroneves ranks in the middle of the pack in awareness among 2,900 celebrities tracked in the Davie Brown Index, a database that determines a celebrity’s ability to influence consumers. He ranks around the same level in awareness as NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch and IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti.
His profile has risen since 2007 when he won the fifth season of “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC. He was partnered with Julianne Hough, who went on to become the star of the recent remake of the movie “Footloose.” On the track, Castroneves said he is aiming to become the fourth driver in history to win four Indy 500 races.
If he’s able to do that, Young says that his appeal as an endorser will increase even further.
“It’s my opinion that over the last 15 years this [IndyCar] champion has been one of the most under-marketed sports champions in the world, and he’s accomplished so much in racing and outside racing,” Young said. “With the proper support and backing, the sky’s the limit for him.”
Charmin wants skid marks to be contained to the racetrack. Or at least that’s the idea behind its sponsorship of this month’s Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600.
Charmin has signed a deal with Charlotte Motor Speedway to sponsor the two NASCAR events, and as part of the deal the Procter & Gamble toilet paper brand plans to hang banners outside the speedway and signs along pit road that tout Charmin Ultra Strong. The billboard-sized exterior banners will feature the backside of white, men’s briefs with tire skid marks down them.
One of the banners will face the speedway’s fan zone outside Turn 1; the other will hang on the suite facade facing N.C. Highway 29, which runs outside the speedway. Charmin’s deal also includes 45 TV-visible signs along pit road during both races.
Charmin will be running a social media campaign with #TweetFromTheSeat, which is part of its ongoing Twitter efforts, and sampling its Ultra Strong product near the bathrooms at the fan zone. Its mascot, a red bear, will be roaming the campgrounds throughout the day of the all-star race.
Financial terms of the deal weren’t available.
The idea of promoting Charmin at a NASCAR race came from the brand’s creative agency, Publicis Kaplan Thaler. The agency has taken an irreverent approach in its promotion of Charmin and recently touted its relationship with the brand in Ad Age by saying, “We think about poop and toilet paper all day, every day. And we love it.”
The creative team was in the process of developing new creative around Charmin’s Ultra Strong line and wanted to raise awareness of the brand’s reputation as a plush but strong product capable of preventing skid marks for children in the early stages of potty training. They thought NASCAR, which has a history of having drivers create skid marks to celebrate victories, offered a natural tie and a large fan base that would allow it to amplify its marketing message.
GMR Marketing, which works with P&G, approached several racetracks with the promotional idea and ultimately settled on Charlotte Motor Speedway because it has two Sprint Cup events over back-to-back weekends (May 18 and May 26).
CMS liked the idea and wiped clean its most high-profile signage on pit road for the deal.
“It’s a creative use of their product with a natural tie-in to the sport. It’s fun,” said Dan Farrell, CMS’s senior vice president of corporate sales. “It’s important to have recall with creative, and I’m sure there will be a buzz and the recall will be second to none for this.”
While the Charmin sponsorship and promotion may toe the line of some people’s good taste, it is far less controversial than the deal CMS’s sister track, Texas Motor Speedway, recently cut with the NRA. Both tracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., and the NRA 500, which was held last month, garnered national media coverage because of the ongoing debate about gun control in the U.S.
In addition to selling a two-race sponsorship to Charmin, CMS sold a sponsorship to Sun Products’ Snuggle and All laundry detergents. The brands will provide a tented “laundry” lounge in the campground during the Sprint All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 race weekends. The lounge will host corn hole games, a happy hour and an appearance by driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Campers will be able to have laundry done for free at the lounge, as well.
The deal came through the Target Chip Ganassi Racing program, which includes the Snuggle and All brands. Target ran a promotion in the campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway last year that helped boost sales at nearby stores by 28 percent, Farrell said, and that prompted Snuggle and All to approach the speedway about doing something in the campgrounds this year.
“It’s about touching campers,” Farrell said.
Continental Tire has renewed its sponsorship of MLS and has added a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Terms of the multiyear deals — which were secured by Soccer United Marketing, MLS’s marketing arm — were not disclosed, but according to an industry insider, the agreements will pay mid-seven figures annually combined to MLS and the USSF.
“We wanted to lock up soccer in the U.S. for an extended period of time,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire, which first sponsored MLS in 2010. “It’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., and our expectations for the World Cup in Brazil next year are very high.”
Continental Tire, which first sponsored MLS in 2010, is also a 2014 FIFA World Cup sponsor.
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“They’ve been a major supporter of soccer on a global scale for years,” said David Wright, MLS and SUM senior vice president of global sponsorship. “Now Continental Tire is recognizing the strides that MLS and U.S. Soccer have made and what will be an immense buildup to World Cup.”
The new contracts between Continental Tire and SUM were negotiated without an agency. However, Continental Tire will use Indianapolis-based Acts Marketing for activation at major soccer events. The first such opportunity will be June 2, when the U.S. men’s national team hosts a friendly with Germany at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Continental Tire will have a display at the fan zone at the stadium.
The deal with the USSF covers both the men’s and women’s national teams. Besides on-site activation, assets include signage, tickets, player appearances and hospitality.
According to Roffler, Continental Tire hosted more than 2,000 retailers at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Although visa issues are expected to make travel and hospitality a bigger challenge in Brazil, Roffler said the company would still have several hundred retailers at the tournament next summer.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway executives say they are beginning to see the results of two years of work developing new categories and pitching new sponsors.
The track added more than 20 new sponsors and upsold seven existing sponsors in the first quarter of this year.
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“We’re reaping the fruit from what we planted the last 18 months to two years,” said Mike Redlick, IMS’s chief sales and marketing officer. “We’re getting out of the garage and going after more traditional sports marketing partners.”
The sales success has been driven in large part by landing sponsors in categories that went unsold in years past. The track signed Hardee’s to become its first quick-service restaurant sponsor in at least five years. It also closed deals with Great Clips, Caterpillar and the National Guard.
All of the track’s new sponsors will receive a mix of assets such as tickets, hospitality, display space, signage and rights to the speedway’s logo. Some will receive TV-visible signage during the Indy 500, including Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, which renewed its sponsorship this year, and Sunoco, which is a new track sponsor.
Sunoco’s deal with IMS represents a significant opportunity for the Philadelphia-based company. The gas retailer has been the official fuel provider of the IndyCar Series since 2011, but its competitor Shell held the sponsorship rights at IMS and limited what Sunoco could do during the Indy 500. But Shell this year opted to shift its marketing commitment from IMS to sponsor a new IndyCar race in Houston, and that allowed Sunoco to scoop up the sponsorship rights.
The company plans to put a tent in Indy’s Gasoline Alley, the speedway’s legendary garage area. It will use the tent for hospitality and set up a Sunoco-branded Indy car that will be featured in this summer’s DreamWorks animated film “Turbo.”
“We’re always looking for a way to activate in the sport, and with the movie ‘Turbo’ coming out July 19, this was a very good position for us at IMS,” said Drew Kabakoff, Sunoco’s director of brand marketing. “It was both having some exposure on television [with signage during the race] and an event-marketing plan in Gasoline Alley that made this work.”
IMS also had success in the emerging “green” sponsorship categories. The track is building a 25-acre solar farm and signed a sponsorship with SunWize, a solar panel manufacturer, to be its first official solar sponsor. It also signed Growth Energy, the ethanol lobbying group that also sponsors NASCAR; Ray’s Trash Service, which will run a recycling program; and Citizens Energy Group, an area water supplier that will promote water conservation.
Redlick said the track lost only two sponsors from last year, Shell and NTB.
The Breeders’ Cup has hired Drew Sheinman, a longtime marketing executive who has worked with sports properties and major brands, as its new senior vice president and CMO.
Sheinman will spearhead the overall marketing, business development and sponsorship sales, as well as digital media and communications initiatives for the Breeders’ Cup, horse racing’s annual championship event. He will begin work on May 13 and be based out of the company’s New York office.
“Drew has a tremendous background in sports marketing and brand extension, and we are just looking forward to him joining us and making sure the Breeders’ Cup brand is at the forefront of the sports marketplace,” Fravel said last week.
Sheinman was most recently CEO of the New York-based entertainment and sports marketing advisory firm Vision Works. Prior to that he held executive positions at Coca-Cola, the New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Madison Square Garden.
The Breeders’ Cup hired executive search firm RSR Partners late last year to fill the position, which was last held by Peter Land, who left in 2009 to join PepsiCo. RSR Partners managing directors Joe Bailey and John Keitt, an attorney with extensive relationships in horse racing, led the search.
Fravel said Sheinman’s diverse work experience was a draw for the horse racing organization.
“We have more than enough experience in the horse racing industry [at the Breeders’ Cup], so we were not looking for anything along those lines,” Fravel said. “There were many, many résumés that were reviewed and we narrowed it down to a field of five. I think Drew stood out because of his experience on both sides — on teams and on the corporate side of sports marketing.”
Sheinman’s first order of business will be to develop an overall business plan, as well as focusing on this year’s event, which will be held Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area. The Breeders’ Cup has about 10 corporate partners, but it hopes to expand that number, Fravel said.
“We are in the business of generating revenue, so a significant part of his job is to refine our marketing and outreach program to generate revenue in existing areas, like sponsorship, and to develop our opportunities,” Fravel said.
Sheinman said he plans to develop a long-term and short-term strategy after meeting with executives in horse racing, as well as sports marketing executives at major corporations.
“Part of it is getting in and getting wired to the corporate community and get past history and experience with the Breeders’ Cup and why they haven’t been involved,” he said.
He believes the Breeders’ Cup is an iconic event that has been underdeveloped in the past. “I think it’s a very visible property and brand, and I think the opportunity for growth is really quite significant,” he said.
Former IndyCar Series CEO Tony George recently acquired the rights to bring Sonax, a European car care product, to the U.S., and the company plans to make its first marketing push by sponsoring the IndyCar Series.
The sponsorship deal, which industry sources valued in the low to mid-six figures, makes Sonax the official automobile detail partner of IndyCar. The company will sponsor the Sonax Perfect Finish Award, a new contingency award tied to the series’ three doubleheader event weekends this year. The name of the award is tied to a new automotive detailing product that Sonax is releasing this year.
Sonax has agreed to pay $50,000 to a driver who wins both races held June 1 and June 2 in Detroit. If no driver wins both races, a driver will have a chance to win $100,000 by winning both races in Toronto in July or $150,000 by winning both races in Houston in October.
The company will couple that at-track promotion with activation at Sam’s Club locations in race markets. Those retail promotions will begin around the Indianapolis 500 later this month when Sonax sets up displays and brings show cars to several Sam’s Club stores in the Indianapolis area.
“Cash is important but activation is paramount for our sport,” said Greg Gruning, IndyCar’s executive vice president, corporate sales and partner strategy. “Getting Sam’s Club involved and having Sonax launch their Perfect Finish product around the doubleheaders is great.”
The IndyCar deal is Sonax’s first major sponsorship. Sonax USA Managing Director Rob McCrary said the company will complement its Sam’s Club displays and Perfect Finish Award promotion with digital advertising and some TV advertising on NBC Sports Network, which the company plans to buy later.
Sonax is working with the Indianapolis-based agency The Heavyweights on its marketing and promotion.
George acquired the exclusive license to sell Sonax in the U.S. in 2010. The brand has a strong history in Europe. It has a 40 percent market share there and was recently voted the best car care brand by the German motor press, McCrary said.