SBJ/Dec. 16-22, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Dow to ride with famed No. 3

    The Dow Chemical Co. has signed a multiyear sponsorship with Richard Childress Racing that will see it become primary sponsor of the No. 3 car driven by Austin Dillon in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

    Financial terms of the 16-race deal weren’t available, but Sprint Cup sponsorships with new drivers typically go for more than $400,000 a race. That would put the value of Dow’s deal at more than $6.4 million a year.

    Driver Austin Dillon (left) with car owner Richard Childress
    Photo by: NASCAR / GETTY IMAGES
    The No. 3 car hasn’t appeared in a Sprint Cup race since Dale Earnhardt died in 2001, which could raise the value of the deal for such a high-profile car.

    Dow Automotive Systems President Steve Henderson said multiple Dow business units will be featured on the No. 3 car during the season, including the automotive division, the agriculture group, and the building and construction unit.

    “This is a business-driven program,” Henderson said. “It’s driven by businesses that want to participate in it. We see an opportunity to create a great return on investment.”

    Dow will share primary sponsorships with General Mills and another company that hasn’t been announced yet. It may develop a NASCAR-related advertising campaign targeted to consumers, but the focus will be on business-to-business opportunities. The company plans to host key clients at races and have Dillon, Childress and others speak to their organization.

    “It’s more than just Austin,” Henderson said of Childress’ 23-year-old grandson. “It’s the RCR organization … and the No. 3 coming back has an element of interest for us, as well. Just as [Austin’s] finding his legs in the highest level of NASCAR, so is Dow, so it’s a perfect relationship for us.”

    Dow began formally working with RCR in 2010, when its automotive division began providing technology support to the team. RCR used lubrications and carbon-fiber products developed by Dow. The relationship expanded into a small sponsorship last season, when Dow sponsored the No. 31 car driven by Jeff Burton, and its Mycogen Seeds brand sponsored the No. 33 car driven by Dillon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    “We started slow and picked up steam in engaging our organization and customers,” Henderson said. “We found significant reasons to take another look [at a full sponsorship]. The opportunity to move to Cup and the No. 3 seemed excellent for us.”

    Dow joins Yuengling and Wix Filters to become the latest in a string of deals signed by RCR for the 2014 season. The team lost driver Kevin Harvick for next year, and Harvick took sponsors Budweiser and Jimmy John’s with him to his new team, Stewart-Haas Racing. But RCR has been successful in replacing those sponsors.

    RCR hired Stewart-Haas Racing’s former driver, Ryan Newman, and filled all of the primary sponsorships on his No. 31 car with Caterpillar, Quicken Loans, Wix Filters and Kwikset. It has primary spots left for six races on Dillon’s No. 3 car, said Rick Penn, RCR’s vice president of business development.

    “We’ve brought in some really nice, robust sponsors,” Penn said. “From a primary perspective, we’re sitting in a good spot and we’ve focused on bringing in new sponsors.”

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  • Geico to title sponsor Bassmaster for 2014

    Geico has agreed to a deal to become title sponsor of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

    An announcement is scheduled for this week. Financial terms were not available.

    The 2014 Classic, considered the world championship of bass fishing, is scheduled for Feb. 21-23 in Alabama. Competition is slated for Lake Guntersville, with Birmingham hosting the daily weigh-ins and all other activities.

    Birmingham is also home to the headquarters of BASS LLC, which owns the Classic.

    According to BASS, Geico is the first title sponsor for the Classic since 2006, when Citgo had held that role dating to 2002. Last year’s Classic, held in Oklahoma, had Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa as a presenting sponsor.

    With the deal, Geico will have in-arena branding at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex during the event as well as a presence at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo consumer show.

    Fans sitting in front of the stage at the arena will be given Geico T-shirts to wear, as will the marshals who serve as the official observers in each competitor’s boat during competition.

    TV coverage of the Classic is slated for ESPN2 in March.

    Bill Brower, director of advertising at Geico, said the company saw a fit with the Classic and its audience because “aggressively promoting boat insurance is now at the top of Geico’s list.”

    With the title sponsorship, Geico hopes to see an increase in sales throughout the next year. “[We will] monitor the results on boat policies selling and look for that uptick,” Brower said.

    The Bassmaster deal adds to a deep sports sponsorship portfolio for Geico. Its deals include sponsorships across leagues, teams and organizations, including with Major League Fishing.

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  • New deals boost NASCAR sponsorship revenue

    NASCAR increased its annual sponsorship revenue by 5 to 10 percent this year, giving the sanctioning body its first increase in three years.

    The increase was driven by a series of new deals NASCAR signed in 2013. The sanctioning body completed sponsorships with Sherwin-Williams, Hewlett-Packard, Duralast Brakes and 5.11 Tactical. It also signed NASCAR Green deals with Liberty Tire Recycling and Eaton, which develops electric charging stations for cars.

    “We had a strong year on the business development front,” said Jim O’Connell, NASCAR chief sales officer. “It was our best year since 2007. We had strong results in traditional sponsorships with blue-chip, Fortune 500 companies and in the green space and the technology space.”

    NASCAR PARTNERS

    NEW SPONSORS

    Official paint: Sherwin-Williams
    Official technology partner: Hewlett-Packard
    Official brakes: Duralast Brakes
    Official tactical apparel: 5.11 Tactical

    NEW NASCAR GREEN SPONSORS

    Official EV charging solution provider: Eaton
    Official tire recycler: Liberty Tire Recycling

    SPONSOR RENEWALS

    Official lubricant, motor oil, gear lube: Mobil 1
    Official cookies and crackers: Nabisco
    Official vehicle: Ford
    Official vehicle: General Motors
    Official vehicle: Toyota

    Source: NASCAR

    NASCAR also renewed deals with Mobil 1 and Nabisco and is close to completing extensions with its three auto manufacturers — Ford, General Motors and Toyota.

    It remains in renewal talks with Safety-Kleen, its official automotive waste removal partner, and Unilever, which uses the sponsorship to promote its Hellman’s, Klondike, Ragu and Breyers brands. Safety-Kleen is expected to renew, but it’s unclear whether Unilever will return.

    Axalta, formerly known as DuPont Performance Coatings, was the only sponsor this year to end its partnership with NASCAR. The sport filled the category with Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes.

    O’Connell said the new sponsorships NASCAR landed this year occurred because the economy has stabilized and the sport has been boosted by good news such as its new broadcast agreements and the successful launch of the new Gen-6 stock car.

    “A lot of what we do is momentum, and when companies see others investing in the sport, it creates a good story,” O’Connell said.

    NASCAR has sponsorships up for renewal in 2014 with Mars, Bank of America, UPS and the COPD Foundation. It has begun talks with those companies, and it continues to look for new sponsors in open categories such as quick-service restaurants, electronics and travel and hotels.

    But the bulk of its sales team’s focus is on finding a new title sponsor for the Nationwide Series, the sport’s No. 2 circuit. Nationwide enters the final year of its contract in 2014, and NASCAR is looking to find a replacement by the end of next year.

    NASCAR began meeting with brands and agencies about the title sponsorship opportunity this fall. It is asking for $12 million to $15 million a year in rights fees, plus media and activation spending.

    O’Connell said NASCAR will continue to meet with prospective sponsors next year. His goal is to find a sponsor by Jan. 15, 2015.

    “It’s a great thing to sell,” O’Connell said. “There are a lot of assets and there’s been a lot of interest.”

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  • Card players: Panini to present NFLPA college all-star game

    Terry Lefton
    While its parent company is Italian, trading-card marketer Panini America is putting its name on one of the most American of institutions — a bowl game.

    Panini has signed on as presenting sponsor of the NFL Players Association’s Collegiate Bowl, in which draft-eligible college football players showcase their talents in an amorphous “National vs. American” format. Collegiate Bowl III will be played at 6 p.m. ET Jan. 18 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and televised on ESPN2.

    Under the deal, Panini gets in-game branding, including venue signage, uniform patches and signs on the playing field and goal posts, as well as integration into the coin toss and postgame awards presentation. There also will be integration into the weeklong buildup of events, as well as marketing, advertising, online and social media activations.

    “Our player relationships, even before they start competing in the NFL, are critical to building product and our business, and this is a nice way to start those relationships early and get the brand out there,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “With the NFL portion of our business growing, we want to gather player assets and use them to extend the window and eventually have NFL product on the shelves 12 months out of the year.”

    Other sponsors of the Collegiate Bowl include EA Sports, Fandeavor, Gatorade, Nike and PrimeSport.

    > POUR IT ON: Anheuser-Busch has renewed its sponsorship deal with the Cleveland Browns and FirstEnergy Stadium. Earlier this year, the Browns unveiled plans for $120 million in renovations scheduled to be completed over the next two years at their home field, and A-B will be a big part of that, with a branded Bud Light party deck similar to ones it has at other sports venues across America.

    Sources said the agreement was for five years. In addition to serving as the beer sponsor of the NFL, A-B has local sponsorship agreements of varying size and exclusivity with 28 of the 32 NFL teams.

    > SPORTS MEDICINE: New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery is teaming with IMG for therapy and medical research programs. Under the new program, Hospital for Special Surgery will operate a sports therapy facility at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The hospital also will offer medical services to the athletes, coaches and sports organizations represented by IMG and its employees.

    IMG and the hospital also hope to determine protocols for injury prevention and collaborate on research leading to injury prevention and recovery among high-performing athletes. In addition, they hope to create education and training programs, including professional education conferences at IMG Academy for physical therapists, trainers and other sports performance specialists.

    > COMINGS & GOINGS: Chief Marketing Officer Bill Sanders leaves BDA Sports Management after 15 years to launch a personal brand management department within PR firm PMK BNC in Los Angeles. Sanders called his parting with BDA “very amicable” and noted that he will still work with longtime BDA client Yao Ming along with “a variety of entertainment and sports clients. PR for people is like marketing for corporate brands,” he said. “There’s always a need.” … Former Philadelphia Eagles Chief Marketing Officer Tim McDermott returns to South Philadelphia with the same title for the Philadelphia 76ers, about a year after leaving the NFL team, and after a brief stop as CMO with conservation advocacy group Trout Unlimited. The CMO gig with the Eagles was McDermott’s second tour of duty with the team, and he was also CMO at the Washington Capitals and held sales and marketing titles with the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars. … Steve Violetta to CEO of the Staten Island Yankees, in a placement by Scott Carmichael’s Prodigy Sports. He has held executive positions with the San Diego Padres, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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

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