SBJ/Nov. 18-24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • NASCAR sets terms for series

    NASCAR is asking $12 million to $15 million a year for title sponsorship of its secondary series, which has been held by Nationwide Insurance since 2008.

    NASCAR’s asking price is a minimum 20 percent increase above the $10 million in rights fees that Nationwide now pays. The insurer is dropping the title sponsorship after the 2014 season.

    In addition to the rights fee, NASCAR executives are telling potential buyers they want a 10-year deal that includes a media commitment of more than $10 million and an activation commitment of more than $10 million, putting the overall annual spend at more than $30 million a year.

    NASCAR officials declined to comment on pricing.

    NASCAR sales materials obtained by SportsBusiness Journal say the sponsorship offers an “unprecedented ownership position in all of sports and entertainment” and “unmatched fan loyalty delivering proven results.” It says the series delivers $130 million in annual media exposure, according to Repucom.

    It also touts the opportunity to work with two new broadcasters, Fox Sports and NBC, which scooped up ESPN’s rights to NASCAR earlier this year. Beginning in 2015, the series will be split, with 14 races on Fox Sports 1, four races on NBC; and 14 races on NBC Sports Network, which is in 20 million fewer homes than ESPN.

    NASCAR plans to approach some of the brands that looked at the title sponsorship of the Nationwide Series when it was last available in 2007. Dunkin’ Donuts, AutoZone, KFC and Subway all analyzed the opportunity. Subway was close to finalizing a deal but changed its mind after negotiations began. Brands in the technology, consumer packaged goods and retail categories are other obvious targets.

    In addition to working with two new network partners, a new sponsor also would bear much of the cost of rebranding the series.

    “Whatever this thing is worth, it’s worth more in year three than year one, because of the name change, and I am sure that’s not the way NASCAR is looking at it,” said the CMO of a sports-centric brand that has a NASCAR team sponsorship in its portfolio.

    NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell is spearheading the sales effort. He sold the Nationwide deal in 2007, Camping World’s title sponsorship of the truck series in 2008, and Sprint’s recent renewal for the top series through 2016. He and his sales team will work with its 2015 broadcast partners, Fox and NBC, on the sales effort.

    Viewership for the Nationwide Series is down slightly this year. Through 31 events, it was averaging 1.7 million viewers per event, a 14 percent decrease from 2012. The decline has been driven in part by the departure of Danica Patrick, who raced in the Nationwide Series last year before switching to the Sprint Cup Series full time this season.

    In addition to viewership trends, potential sponsors will have to consider that NASCAR has changed competition rules for the series. Sprint Cup Series drivers can no longer win the secondary series championship, and fewer Cup drivers are racing in the series as a result. The change has turned the Nationwide Series into a proving ground for up-and-coming drivers who are less recognizable to casual NASCAR fans.

    Nationwide, which has a NASCAR official sponsorship through 2017, latched onto that change and promoted many of those young drivers, like two-time series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who moved from the Nationwide Series to the Sprint Cup Series this year. More recently, the insurer decided that it wanted to make the same transition, discontinuing its title sponsorship of the secondary series and following Stenhouse to the top Sprint Cup circuit.

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  • Long-distance connection: AT&T extends Pebble Beach National Pro-Am title sponsorship until 2024

    Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

    The PGA Tour has been pushing title sponsors to extend their deals for longer terms, and AT&T apparently was listening.

    The longtime title sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has agreed to extend its contract with the tour for an unprecedented 10 years. The new deal will keep AT&T with the tournament through 2024.

    AT&T, whose previous deal was set to expire in 2014, has been title sponsor of the February tournament since 1986. Financial specifics were not available, but title sponsorships typically go for $6 million to $8 million a year.

    Most title deals in the past have gone out three to four years, but as the tour has gone into renewal talks in recent few years, it has sought longer terms. Greenbrier recently extended its title sponsorship to 2021, while Humana, Zurich, Farmers and SBS go out to 2019. Bridgestone, a World Golf Championships sponsor, recently extended to 2018.

    Because most of the advertising on the tour’s telecasts comes from its title sponsors, locking down these long-term agreements is important to both the tour and its TV partners, CBS and NBC/Golf Channel.

    Two of the biggest title sponsorship deals on the horizon in 2014 are Accenture, a WGC sponsor of the match-play event, and BMW, a sponsor of the third FedEx Cup playoff tournament.

    One of the longest-running tournaments on tour, the Pebble Beach National started in 1937 and has raised $110 million for its charities.

    The tour also plans to announce that it has reached an extension with Anheuser-Busch to keep its Michelob Ultra brand as an official marketing partner. A-B has activated with Michelob Ultra for nearly 20 years.

    Blaise D’Sylva, A-B’s vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing, described the tour as one of the company’s “premier sponsorships for nearly two decades.”

    Michelob Ultra and another A-B brand, O’Doul’s, activate at close to 55 tournaments across the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Web.com Tour through A-B’s wholesalers. Official marketing partnerships can cost anywhere from the low seven figures to high seven figures, based on the amount of media and other assets included in the package.

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  • In glow of World Series victory, big doings for Big Papi’s agent

    Terry Lefton
    What’s life like for the agent of a World Series MVP?

    Well, over a 10-day period after David Ortiz won the biggest individual honor within the Fall Classic, his longtime agent, Alex Radetsky, orchestrated for Big Papi a cover shoot for Sports Illustrated; chose between appearances on CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman” and NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (Letterman won because Ortiz is a longtime fan of the show and had never been a guest); and shepherded Ortiz to appearances at the New York Stock Exchange on CNBC, a “Live With Kelly & Michael” appearance, and nonstop media tours that included SI and People magazine.

    There’s been little standing still for Series MVP David Ortiz and agent Alex Radetsky.
    Photo by: RADEGEN SPORTS MANAGEMENT
    Then there was the signing of “a few thousand bats, balls and photos” to service a new exclusive memorabilia deal with Fanatics. (Game-used equipment and apparel will follow, including his bottle of victory champagne and the goggles he wore while celebrating the Red Sox’s third World Series title since 2004). Ortiz also did an event “for an obscene amount of money” with high rollers at Caesars Atlantic City and shot some video that will be used to help launch Sony’s PS4.

    Among the offers spurned were opportunities to present at the Country Music Awards and the American Music Awards.

    “We’ve probably turned down a few hundred thousand in one-offs,” Radetsky said. “Just not enough time. We’ve been through the other [Red Sox] championships, but this one was so unexpected, and David had such a big profile in this series, my cellphone’s really been blowing up.”

    As for corporate deals, Radetsky said he’s close to a QSR deal. Of the endemic categories, Ortiz is tied up with Reebok for footwear and apparel and Franklin for batting gloves. His video game rights are with Sony and Konami, and his beverage deal with Kraft’s Capri Sun line is up in February.

    Also, Radetsky said he’s already seen more activity around the sixth David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Dec. 12-15. Beyond that, the targets are “new and out-of-the-box categories.”

    “We’ve had a lot of jewelers and watchmakers calling,” Radetsky said, “but it’s not like I have gotten through all my email and voicemails yet, either.”
     
    > ICING THE REVIEW:  The Richards Group’s Haymaker agency has won an agency shootout to activate a new NHL league sponsorship for Pfizer’s Advil brand of ibuprofen. Haymaker, formerly Richards Sports & Entertainment, is Bridgestone’s sports marketing agency of record and has been activating the tire marketer’s title sponsorship of the NHL Winter Classic since its inception in 2008.

    Sources said Pfizer was looking for creative to tie into its new one-year deal as the NHL’s official pain reliever, which includes dasherboards and other marketing assets at the spate of NHL-sanctioned outdoor games in 2014: the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., the four games that make up the Coors Light Stadium Series, and the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic in Vancouver.
     
    > TECH TALK: With technology becoming a more important sponsorship category every day, the distinctions between hardware manufacturers, software providers and systems integrators are growing fuzzy. As a result, we still expect the tech category to be sliced up ever more finely before it’s all over. Witness the designation granted by the NFL to Enterasys. The company that recently installed enhanced Wi-Fi systems at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is now an NFL league sponsor, which carries with it a designation as official provider of Wi-Fi analytics of the NFL.

    While the league does not own or control the venues that would have a need for Wi-Fi and analytics thereof, as part of the deal, the NFL has secured Wi-Fi analytics equipment that will allow clubs to measure fan connectivity and online activity. The league also is providing discounted rates for the purchase of Enterasys’ Wi-Fi equipment by teams. If Enterasys reaches designated sales incentives, it can earn the additional designation of official Wi-Fi provider for the NFL.

    > CAPPING OFF THANKSGIVING: Thanksgiving opens the holiday shopping season, of course, so NFL rights holder New Era will use the three Turkey Day games as a showcase for new caps to be worn on the sidelines. The new caps for the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh
    Steelers will be at retail Thanksgiving week.

    > STILL DISTILLING: Still no official word from the NBA on its new spirits sponsorship with Diageo (SportsBusiness Daily, Oct. 30), but we’ve been told that the lead brands will be Ciroc Vodka and Crown Royal Canadian whiskey. NBA legend Julius Erving has been
    appearing in Crown Royal TV ads since February. Diageo is replacing Bacardi as an NBA league sponsor. In 2010, Bacardi became the first spirits marketer to sign a sponsorship with one of the big four pro leagues. With beer marketers losing share to spirits, especially among key younger drinkers, we’d look for those beer vs. spirits battles to intensify.

    > COMINGS & GOINGS: Jim Ross is moving to Palace Sports & Entertainment, Detroit, to work for President and CEO Dennis Mannion, as executive vice president, business operations and strategy. Ross was last with the Cleveland Browns as senior vice president, business development. He also has held sales and marketing positions with the New York Yankees, Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins. … Keith Green has been promoted to senior vice president, communications and agency partnerships at Synergy Events, Ocean, N.J., where he’s been since 2007.

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

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