SBJ/July 15-21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Bud will go with Harvick to Stewart-Haas

    Budweiser will follow driver Kevin Harvick to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, bringing an end to its three-year relationship with Richard Childress Racing.

    A-B’s flagship brand signed a three-year deal with Stewart-Haas that makes it the primary sponsor for 20 Sprint Cup races and the Budweiser Duels, a non-points race. The deal is valued at more than $10 million a year. Budweiser sponsored 20 points races and two non-points races this year at RCR.

    Budweiser, with Kevin Harvick since 2011, chose not to switch to another driver at RCR.
    Photo by: HHP / GARY ELLER
    Budweiser had an option to stay at RCR and sponsor Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon, when he moves to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series next year. But Blaise D’Sylva, A-B’s vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing, said the company felt Budweiser would benefit more from sticking with Harvick than changing to its fourth driver in eight years. It previously sponsored Dale Earnhardt Jr. from 2000 to 2007 and Kasey Kahne from 2008 to 2010.

    “Kevin is a proven winner, and that plays a role for us, but he’s also shown an amazing commitment to the brand,” D’Sylva said. “He works well for the system when we have him out in the marketplace with our bottlers and wholesalers. It’s not that we wanted to leave RCR. They’ve been a great partner. It’s about the equity we’ve built with Kevin.”

    Harvick made the decision to leave RCR for Stewart-Haas Racing last October. His move wasn’t contingent upon bringing Budweiser, Jimmy John’s or any of his other sponsors with him, but the Budweiser deal is a huge lift for Stewart-Haas as it looks ahead to 2014. It leaves the team with just 16 primary races to sell on Harvick’s No. 4 car.

    “It’s exciting to augment our portfolio with a global brand” like Budweiser, said Brett Frood, Stewart-Haas executive vice president. “Over the years they, from a creativity standpoint, have shown ingenuity and innovation in advertising and marketing, and it will be a great learning experience for us and a challenge to translate our assets for them into sales.”

    A-B’s decision leaves RCR without one of its most high-profile sponsors. The team hasn’t announced any sponsorships for Dillon, who is expected to drive the team’s third Sprint Cup car.

    “We’re trying to keep as many of the partners on the No. 29 car as we can, but we certainly have to replace A-B,” said Torrey Galida, RCR chief operating officer. “We’d like to keep the No. 29 car going, but it’s all sponsorship dependent and that would be us growing to four cars from three, which is a long-term goal.”

    After signing Harvick, Stewart-Haas had an option to put him in the No. 4 car or No. 8 car for the 2014 season. It consulted with A-B before making a choice, and the company, which had sponsored Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8, told the team it preferred the No. 4.

    The company did a photo shoot with Harvick and the new car last week. It will begin changing from No. 29-themed marketing materials to No. 4-themed materials next year.

    D’Sylva said Budweiser will continue to complement its sponsorship of Harvick with at-track activation and TV advertising.

    “Our commitment to NASCAR is not decreasing,” D’Sylva said. “You look at our assets and what we want to do with the team, Kevin personally, the tracks we have relationships with and the commitment we have on Fox (which broadcasts races) — our commitment is as strong as ever.”

    Harvick said he didn’t get involved in the negotiations and won’t be involved in talks with other sponsors such as Jimmy John’s.

    “For me, it’s all about driving the car and doing what I have to do on the racetrack,” Harvick said. “We’re racing for a championship. The other pieces of the puzzle they just inform me about.”

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  • New Era signs eight-year marketing deal with Yankees

    MLB on-field headwear rights holder New Era has gone deep with the league’s top-selling team, quietly signing an eight-year marketing agreement with the New York Yankees.

    One well-placed MLB source pegged the deal’s value at $20 million over the term and said it includes a host of marketing rights, enhancement of its two company-branded stores in Yankee Stadium, and an extension of New Era’s sponsorship of the Pinstripe Bowl, a non-BCS bowl game that the company has title sponsored since it began in 2010.

    “We live and breathe in the headwear space, where obviously the Yankees have a unique position where they are their own story,” said New Era President Pete Augustine, without commenting specifically on the deal terms.

    “You look at the iconic nature of the Yankees logo, and how people have embraced it, not only in the U.S. but more importantly around the world. It’s a great story, a great heritage, and we want to be part of that for a long time.”  

    While this is the capmaker’s longest MLB deal, Augustine emphasized that New Era has other long-term MLB team relationships, notably with the Mets, host of this week’s All-Star Game.

    The value of the Yankees headwear deal is likely attributable to a number of reasons. The Yankees are regularly — and historically — a top-selling team. The NY logo’s perpetual dominance among MLB licensed-product sales is eclipsed only by its absolute dominance in overseas MLB licensed products sales; some estimates have Yankees-logoed products accounting for well more than half of MLB licensed sales overseas. And the Yankees’ dominance in MLB licensing is even greater in headwear, licensing sources said.  

    There are also political reasons motivating the deal. Aligning for eight years with a perennial top seller and a team that is arguably MLB’s most influential makes a switch to any rival capmaker highly unlikely when New Era’s current exclusive leaguewide on-field agreement expires in a few years.

    “In some ways, it’s an insurance policy, considering how powerful the Yankees logo is in this business,” said one baseball source. “You also have to appreciate that after the [broadcast] rights holders, New Era is probably MLB’s largest single business partner.’’

    It was unclear whether the deal gets New Era any degree of product exclusivity within Yankee Stadium. Augustine said, “You’ll see a small amount of competitive headwear, but we’ll have the lion’s share there, from value caps through premium product.”

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  • Ties between league, hall tighten with new NFL Network deal

    Terry Lefton
    It hasn’t always been easy to gauge the relationship between the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even though the hall’s board of directors includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and influential owners like Dan Rooney of the Steelers and Jerry Jones of the Cowboys. But we’re told that as the Hall of Fame begins observing its 50th anniversary, the ties that bind are closer than ever — so much so that a TV deal for the hall once nearly completed with ESPN has gone instead to NFL Network.

    The result is an eight-year deal that will give NFL Network viewers a seasonlong view of the Hall of Fame selection process. Also in the works is a deal with Showtime, where a Hall of Fame segment and a fan-voting program will be featured within the weekly “Inside the NFL” highlights show. So from this point of view, the relationship between the two feels like one big group hug.

    Marketing firm Insignia is seeing success finding hall sponsors.
    Photo by: PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
    Credit for that has to go to Insignia, the New York-based sports marketing agency founded last May that has represented the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a year. Insignia is owned by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and includes former Jets executive vice president Matt Higgins and former NFL sponsorship chief Peter Murray, people who know the league’s landscape and its politics. Consequently, they’re getting traction when it comes to marketing the Hall of Fame, something that has generally eluded the other shrines of sports.

    “We’re selling it like it’s a 33rd NFL team, with a content strategy, media extensions and IP sales, and extending the brand with a presence at key times in the NFL calendar,” said Murray, who would not comment on the NFL Network deal, which also gives the NFL’s digital network access to Hall of Fame assets. New sponsors include audio manufacturer Harman-Kardon (where former Samsung America CMO Ralph Santana is now pulling the marketing strings) and Kay Jewelers, which will update the Hall of Fame ring and sell rings at retail. Scientific Games has a lottery deal, and Parade magazine is a media partner, integrating its Parade All-Americans. Other media extensions in development include an online fantasy game and a weekly radio series, likely on Dial Global.

    “The idea is to increase fan engagement, not just at Canton, but across platforms with all the content we have, and grow to a national brand,” said Dave Motts, vice president of marketing at the hall, who also would not comment on an NFL Network deal.

    Hall officials believe this year will feature its best turnout, with more than 130 hall of famers on hand for the Aug. 3 enshrinement ceremony. We’ll be interested to see whether the “new” Pro Football Hall will aggressively court competitors of official NFL sponsors and whether other halls of fame will follow suit with more aggressive marketing programs.

    > IGNITING GROWTH: Looking to expand its global reach and augment the offerings of its consulting division with additional activation capabilities, Wasserman Media Group has acquired Ignite, a U.K.-based experiential marketing agency that was founded in 2002. Ignite’s clients include top sports properties like the NFL, NBA, Premier League and ATP, as well as consumer brands including Barclays, Vodafone, Nike and HP.

    Ignite will become part of the WMG Consulting division, headed by managing directors Denise Durante and Elizabeth Lindsey.

    “At WMG, we are tasked with doubling the size of the business within five years, and one way to accomplish that is with new and incremental services,” Lindsey said. “Our agency pedigree started with strategy, and we do some activation for clients like Quaker Oats, Lenovo and Verizon, but there’s something satisfying about being able to offer full service to all clients and seeing our strategies played through.”

    Ignite’s 50-plus employees increases the WMG Consulting head count to 120 people, with around half of those in the U.K. Fred Porro, an agency founder and group managing director, is relocating from Miami to WMG’s New York City offices, where he will be a WMG Consulting group senior vice president.

    “Bringing a brand to life on the ground in a way that moves sales is the ultimate validation for the strategy work we do, and Ignite has been really innovative there,” said Durante, adding that the deal has been in the works for around six months. “This builds our experiential services in a way that allows us to offer them globally and in much greater depth.”

    Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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  • Web.com finds home for forum series on tour

    After spending nearly 30 years in the health care industry, Michael Young bought a motorcoach and attempted to retire. That didn’t last long.

    In November, Young was hired by

    Web.com to run a series of small-business forums at the site of PGA Tour and Web.com Tour events. But he wasn’t the only hire.

    Young is one of 150 new employees hired since last year, most of whom have been added to work on Web.com’s new 10-year, $100 million PGA Tour umbrella sponsorship for the developmental tour.

    These small-business seminars are a primary form of activation for Web.com, which signed the deal in June 2012.

    As a vice president with the company, Young is running a nationwide series of seminars that piggyback off of the tournaments on the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour. The seminars teach small-business owners how to set up a website and use it for online marketing.

    A Web.com small-business forum at TPC Sawgrass last October.
    Photo by: COURTESY OF WEB.COM
    “We’re using the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour as a way to engage communities,” Young said. “A lot of people think they’re walking into a timeshare sale, but it’s not like that at all. It’s all about educating and providing knowledge with everything we’ve learned about website building and online marketing.”

    Web.com CEO David Brown had been thinking about a nationwide series of forums like this for years, but it wasn’t until the company sponsored the developmental tour that it had a viable platform.

    Now that Web.com is halfway through its first full season, the company is already looking to build on its initial successes.

    Web.com, a company of 2,000 employees with customers all over the world, will conduct 27 small-business seminars this year, and that number will grow to more than 50 in 2014. CAA Sports works with Web.com on strategy and activation.

    “What we’ve found so far is that people are starving for good information,” Young said. “Some of the people in the audience have no website experience whatsoever. Others have a website, but it’s not doing what they hoped it would. We take them through all of the fundamentals to be successful.”

    The one-day forums typically last three to four hours and attendance ranges from 100 in smaller markets to more than 300 in the larger markets. They’re free to attend but cost Web.com as much as $25,000 to stage.

    In these seminars, small-business owners learn about Google analytics, search-engine optimization, linking their site with Facebook, and other online marketing and e-commerce techniques to grow their business.

    The morning starts at 8 a.m. at a site on or near the golf course. Most of the forums have been on Thursdays or Fridays of the tournament, but Web.com also is experimenting with Mondays and Wednesdays.

    Web.com ambassadors — experts in online marketing and website optimizations — then take over and lead the session.

    Web.com reaches out to the local tournament committees, chambers of commerce, and small business associations in each market to find its potential attendees. The seminars are purely educational, Young said. Business owners can follow up on the company website if they desire follow-up or if they want to become a customer.

    The company this year plans to have seminars at every U.S.-based Web.com Tour event, six PGA Tour events and the season-ending Champions Tour event.

    Web.com also has established official player websites for more than 100 players, free of charge, including Jim Furyk, who has an endorsement deal with the company.

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