SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Camping World extends NASCAR deal

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

    Camping World has extended its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s truck series through 2022.

    The recreational vehicle retailer, which became title sponsor of the series in 2009, signed a seven-year extension that will begin in 2016. The deal is valued at more than $5 million a year in rights fees and media commitments.

    Camping World credits the sponsorship with helping the company double its revenue from 2009.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who stars in the CNBC show “The Profit,” credited the Camping World Truck Series sponsorship with helping his company increase its revenue from $1.5 billion annually in 2009 to $3 billion annually today. He also said it helped in adding 27 new retail locations and reducing the age of Camping World customers from a 47- to 65-year-old demographic to a 35- to 65-year-old demographic.

    “The return on investment I have gotten out of this entitlement has honestly shocked me,” Lemonis said. “When I did the first deal, I was told by [NASCAR Chairman] Brian France over dinner that I would be pleased with the return on investment. … But I’ve been stunned by my ability to expand the brand and open stores.”

    In addition to renewing Camping World’s title sponsorship of the truck series, Lemonis managed to extend NASCAR sponsorships to several of his other businesses. Camping World will be able to market its Good Sam Roadside Assistance towing service as the official roadside assistance of NASCAR. CarCash.com, which buys and sells used cars, will become the official auto buying service of NASCAR, and AutoMatch USA, which sells used cars, will be the official pre-owned automobile retailer of NASCAR.

    Lemonis said he will promote those companies at races and use the NASCAR marks to raise the profiles of those brands.

    Camping World didn’t work with an agency on the extension and doesn’t use an agency to activate its sponsorship assets. Lemonis said that he prefers to have his marketing team oversee promotional efforts. He said that group will have to help Camping World’s NASCAR-related promotions evolve over the next seven years to keep it engaging for fans.

    “It’s like a TV commercial,” Lemonis said. “You have to stay fresh and relevant.”

    A year ago, Lemonis expressed concern that truck ratings might suffer after Fox recast its motorsports network Speed as the all-sports network Fox Sports 1. But he said he’s been pleased with the ratings on the network, which was part of the reason he extended the deal.

    On Speed, the Camping World Truck Series averaged 681,000 viewers per race in 2012. The same races on Fox Sports 1 last year averaged 736,000 viewers per race, an 8 percent increase.

    The Camping World extension comes at an important time for NASCAR. The sport’s sales team continues to look for a new title sponsor for its secondary circuit, the Nationwide Series. Nationwide Insurance last year decided it would exit its title sponsorship and instead sponsor a Sprint Cup team. By getting Camping World to renew, NASCAR avoided having to find two new title sponsors in consecutive years.

    NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell said NASCAR has had several meetings with companies about the Nationwide Series opportunity, but he declined to say what companies had been pitched or what categories had been targeted. Sources familiar with the search said NASCAR has focused on auto parts retailers such as Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone.

    “We’re talking to a number of different companies in a number of different categories,” O’Connell said. “What’s important is [finding] the right company to help us grow the sport.”

    NASCAR announced its current deal with Nationwide in September 2007, and it hopes to name a new title sponsor in the third or fourth quarter of this year.



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  • GE bringing ultrasound to PGA Tour events

    Until last week, PGA Tour golfers had to visit a doctor’s office to get in-depth information on an injury.

    Dr. Tom Hospel shows PGA Tour golfer Webb Simpson how the ultrasound works.
    Photo by: MICHAEL SMITH / STAFF
    But one of the tour’s official marketing partners, General Electric, is placing its ultrasound equipment inside the health and wellness trailers at PGA Tour events, providing players more immediate feedback on what ails them.

    Each ultrasound unit sells for $40,000 and the tour has bought two of them from GE Healthcare, one for the PGA Tour and one for the Champions Tour, each of which will be placed in the Visionworks-sponsored health and fitness trailers.

    GE’s ultrasound unit, called the Logiq e, comes in the form of a high-tech laptop, so it requires minimal space inside the tight confines of the 900-square-foot health trailer, which is where players work out and stretch under the care of physical therapists. As the ultrasound wand scans a part of the body, an image appears on the laptop screen.

    The Logiq e first appeared in the tour’s health trailer at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte last week and will be on-site from now on.

    Webb Simpson and Charles Howell III, the two players on tour sponsored by GE, were the first to check it out at the event last week. GE captured video of the two golfers in the health trailer, and that footage will be used on the GE Healthcare website, in videos used for medical conferences, and for other internal purposes.

    “We’ve had orthopedic sports medicine coverage on-site in the past, but if there was a need for any kind of imaging test, the player was sent to a physician’s office to do the scan,” said Dr. Tom Hospel, a sports medicine physician and the tour’s medical adviser. “With ultrasound technology, you’re able to see the extent of the injury right then and there.”

    GE Healthcare, a $16 billion division, has made ultrasound a focus of its sponsorship activation with other properties, such as the Olympics and the European Tour.

    Chris Katsuleres, who oversees Olympic and sports marketing for GE, said sporting venues are often an ideal venue to entertain customers, while also showing them how the ultrasound is used by major properties. Customers would include clinicians, physicians or anyone else who might buy one of these units.

    GE’s ultrasound unit is mostly valuable to golfers to diagnose tendon or ligament damage in joints, bone fractures and muscle strains, without radiation. Hospel’s company will collect data from the tests they do and report injury trends back to the tour. Hospel projects about five to six injuries per week on tour that might call for an ultrasound. Wrist injuries were found to be most common on the European Tour.

    Bringing ultrasound to PGA Tour venues also further integrates GE into the tour’s day-to-day operations and incorporates the brand’s technology, something the company has been seeking since it became an official marketing partner in 2011.

    GE works with IMG Consulting and its vice president, Kirsten Hunt, on its strategy and activation.

    GE has offered body composition testing for the players, but that wasn’t considered as core to their health needs as ultrasound.

    “This is the fourth year of our partnership with the tour and we’ve been looking for ways we can add value to the players, from a health care standpoint,” Katsuleres said. “As we’ve evolved the relationship and thought about how we can bring in more of our diagnostic technology, that led us to this.”

    But bringing ultrasound technology to a sports venue isn’t as simple as placing the machine in the health trailer that travels from tournament to tournament. Someone’s got to read the results, and anyone who’s watched a pregnant mother’s ultrasound knows it’s not as easy as it looks.

    Hospel, who became the tour’s medical adviser in 2007 when it began formulating a drug-testing policy, said ultrasound reading can require as many as 150 hours of training.

    The ultrasounds at PGA Tour events will be read by trained technicians who work for Hospel’s business, Physiofitness Associates. If further expertise is required, off-site specialists — Dr. Tony Bouffard and his team based in Michigan — will be on call to read images sent real-time over the Internet.

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  • Lagardère landing a Haymaker

    Looking to augment its corporate consulting practice in the United States, Lagardère Unlimited has hired the leadership group within Haymaker, the 9-year-old sports and entertainment marketing practice of The Richards Group ad agency.

    Jay Danzi, senior vice president at Lagardère, would not say how many executives are being hired away from Dallas-based Haymaker. Kern Egan, who founded the group as Richards Sports & Entertainment, will head Lagardère’s sponsorship consulting group as senior vice president, and his group will be housed within Lagardère’s offices in Dallas.

    Kern Egan rebranded Richards Sports & Entertainment as Haymaker in 2012.
    Photo by: CARY GIBSON / THE RICHARDS GROUP

    Egan said “a significant portion’’ of the Haymaker client roster, including the Bridgestone and Firestone tire brands, will move their consulting business to Lagardère, but he would not say which other clients were moving. Haymaker’s client roster includes sports-heavy marketers such as Metro-PCS, Advance Auto Parts, Pfizer, H-E-B and Wawa.

    Danzi said he’s been working on bringing Egan’s group over since late last year. “They have a deep understanding of the business and a great track record and are respected across the industry,” Danzi said.

    Egan, a SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40 winner in 2011, said the new arrangement will give his group a global reach and likely some incremental business from Lagardère’s existing clients.

    “We will continue the branding sensibilities developed under The Richards Group, and we’re sure the reach of Lagardère will take us to new places,” he said.

    He added that it was an amicable separation with The Richards Group.

    It was unclear at press time whether The Richards Group will continue with the Haymaker name or with its line of business: property and sponsorship consulting.

    A spokeswoman for The Richards Group said, “The Richards Group’s new partnerships discipline will be led by a veteran sports, entertainment and cause-marketing team with more than two decades of experience in this burgeoning field that links brands with passionate consumers wherever they are.

    “We determined that certain sports activities of certain clients would be best served by continuing with the current team working on their business, and therefore we are allowing those clients and a handful of team members to join Kern’s endeavor.”

    The move is the latest in a series of acquisitions and personnel additions for Lagardère orchestrated by former IMG consulting chief Andy Pierce, who joined the company as president and CEO in August. Pierce said he knew within 10 minutes of meeting Egan that he wanted to hire him.

    “In pure corporate sponsorship consulting, this is a big add for us that should fit in well across our vertical businesses,” Pierce said.

    Lagardère under Pierce has added more than 50 new employees, including IMG alums Danzi, Peter Levy and Roddy Carr. Pierce said he’s also looking to extend capabilities within traditional media rights negotiations, consulting and media production, and expand into Olympic consulting in a size befitting a global company.

    On the talent side, Pierce noted that Lagardère is underrepresented in basketball and hockey and would like to expand its baseball representation business. “We’re looking at team sports where we can take a leadership position and really go strong in terms of size and quality,” he said.


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  • New Oregon team Hops onto merchandise list

    The Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops, a club that has played only 38 home games in its one season of existence, made Minor League Baseball’s list of the 25 teams with the most merchandise sales last year, according to data obtained by SportsBusiness Journal and scheduled to be released by MiLB this week.

    Collectively, the 160 minor league teams in the U.S. and Canada that are affiliated with MLB clubs generated $55.4 million in 2013 through the sale of apparel, headwear and novelties, up 2.6 percent from 2012 ($54 million) and surpassing the pre-recession total of $54.7 million posted in 2008. MiLB’s top recorded year came in 1994, with $60 million in sales posted.

    Photo by: HILLSBORO HOPS
    The Hops are the first Short Season Class A club to finish among the top 25 in MiLB merchandise sales since the New York-Penn League’s Batavia (N.Y.) Muckdogs and Brooklyn (N.Y.) Cyclones made the 2008 list. Additionally, only 10 Class AAA teams

    Caps have sold well, as has a stainless-steel, vaccum-sealed growler.

    made the top 25 for 2013, the fewest since 2008.

    Lauren Wombacher, director of merchandise for the Hops, said the club’s merchandise sales accounted for about 20 percent of the team’s overall revenue last year. “Our per caps exceeded our projections by a long shot, ” she said.

    While Wombacher said any team cap with the Hops logo on its front has fared well in sales, she said a non-apparel product tied to the club’s beer-based moniker has scored particularly well among fans. The team partnered with Pinemeadow Green of Wilsonville, Ore., to make Hops-branded stainless-steel, vacuum-sealed, 64-ounce growlers.

    “These sold out every time we’d bring a new shipment in,” Wombacher said. “It is a huge trend here in Oregon that we were able to capitalize on; there are growler filling stations everywhere.”

    The Hops this summer plan to offer filling stations at the ballpark as well, Wombacher said.

    Prior to their 2013 season in Hillsboro, the Hops were playing as the Yakima (Wash.) Bears. That club, located 200 miles northeast of Hillsboro, had been in Yakima since 1990 but relocated after failing to reach a deal to replace its 20-year-old ballpark.

    In moving to Hillsboro, the club relocated to an affluent suburb 30 minutes west of Portland, located near the corporate headquarters of Columbia Sportswear as well as a site for tech giant Intel that employs 16,000 workers, representing the company’s largest employee base. Additionally, Nike’s headquarters is 10 minutes away from the ballpark. The apparel company is one of the team’s founding sponsors.

    Top 25 MiLB clubs for merchandise sales in 2013

    TEAM (LEVEL) NUMBER OF YEARS IN TOP 25
    Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) 9
    Carolina Mudcats (High A) 16
    Columbus Clippers (AAA) 4
    Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) 9^
    Durham Bulls (AAA) 21^
    Fort Wayne TinCaps (A) 7
    Hillsboro Hops (SS) 1^
    Indianapolis Indians (AAA) 12
    Lake Elsinore Storm (High A) 16
    Lakewood BlueClaws (A) 13^
    Lansing Lugnuts (A) 16
    Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA) 6^
    Midland RockHounds (AA) 8
    Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A) 9
    Pensacola Blue Wahoos (AA) 2^
    Portland Sea Dogs (AA) 21^
    Reading Fightin Phils (AA) 3
    Reno Aces (AAA) 5^
    Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA) 4^
    Round Rock Express (AAA) 14^
    Sacramento River Cats (AAA) 14^
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA) 4
    Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) 19
    Trenton Thunder (AA) 20^
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A) 16

    Note: Teams listed alphabetically. Rankings and team-specific sales data were not available. Teams in bold were not in the top 25 for 2012 sales. Teams that fell out of the top 25 from that 2012 list are three Class AAA teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Rochester Red Wings, Salt Lake Bees; and the Greensboro Grasshoppers and Savannah Sand Gnats, both from the Class A South Atlantic League.
    * Since 1993, the first season MiLB began tracking sales data.
    ^ Ranked every year of team's existence and/or every season since 1993, the first year MiLB began tracking sales data.


    Licensed merchandise sales for MiLB teams



    Selling Short

    The Northwest League's Hillsboro Hops are the first Short Season Class A club to finish among the top 25 in annual MiLB merchandise sales since the New York-Penn League's Batavia Muckdogs and Brooklyn Cyclones made the list for 2008.

    Class 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
    AAA 10 12 11 11 12 9
    AA 7 6 6 6 6 6
    A 7 7 8 8 7 8
    SS 1 0 0 0 0 2

    Source: Minor League Baseball


    Prior to 2013, the Portland region had been without a professional baseball team since the Class AAA Beavers were sold and moved to Tucson, Ariz., after the 2010 MiLB season. The Beavers made MiLB’s top 25 list for merchandise sales in 1993 and 2001, and the former Short Season Portland Rockies (who played 1995 through 2000) made it in 1996.

    The schedule for MiLB Short Season teams runs from mid-June through early September.

    The challenge now for the Hops is to keep their sales strong despite the novelty of Hillsboro having a club in town naturally lessening from year one to year two. More than a dozen clubs before them have made the list in their inaugural seasons only to fall off the following year. Wombacher said the Hops will aim to have something new on the floor at each homestand this summer to spur new sales.

    There were four other clubs that made MiLB’s top 25 list for 2013 that did not appear on the list for 2012.

    Fans in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa., embraced the start of a new era for their hometown club last year, as the Class AAA RailRiders made the list. The New York Yankees affiliate, which had been playing as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees since 2007, took on its new nickname in 2013 and made MiLB’s top 25 list for the first time since that first Yankees season of 2007. The club spent its entire 2012 season on the road while its home ballpark underwent a $43 million upgrade, returning to the venue with its new team brand last year.

    One hundred miles away, in a place that has marketed itself since 2002 as Baseballtown, the Class AA team known since 1967 as the Reading Phillies changed its name to the Fightin Phils prior to the 2013 season — and made the top 25 list for the first time since 2001.

    The Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts, a Toronto Blue Jays Class A affiliate, returned to the list for 2013 after its 2012 absence broke a 15-year top 25 streak. The Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans (a Texas Rangers High A affiliate) were the other newcomer to the list, also returning to the top 25 after being absent from the list for 2012.

    Since tracking by MiLB began in 1993, 101 different clubs have made the annual list. Only 10 have made it 15 times or more, but two of those stalwarts, the Class AAA Pawtucket (R.I.) Red Sox and Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings, were absent from the 2013 list.

    Two clubs have appeared on the top 25 list all 21 times that MiLB has compiled it: the Class AA Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, who have had the same logo for all 21 years (although the color scheme changed in 2003, when its affiliation switched from the then-Florida Marlins to the Boston Red Sox); and the Class AAA Durham Bulls, who similarly have made very few alterations to their logo through the years — although this summer, for the first time since the 2002 season, the team’s road jerseys will display “Durham” across the chest, and replica jerseys will be sold by the club.

    Sandie Hebert, MiLB’s director of licensing, said online sales were an important part of the 2013 numbers. Overall MiLB team sales online were up 27 percent in 2013 compared to the year before, she said.


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  • Sponsors draft stars, contests for activation

    A high of 24 league sponsors are activating behind this week’s NFL draft, which begins Thursday.

    Bud Light will provide contest winners from each team with a VIP draft experience.

    EA Sports will have Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders announce the team’s first-round draft pick, and he will “put fans on the clock” to start voting on a new cover athlete for “Madden NFL 15” from among 16 players.

    Round 2 of the draft, happening on Friday night, will be sponsored by Bud Light, which will provide contest winners from each NFL team with a VIP draft experience. Additionally, one of the winning fans will announce a second-round pick on stage. The 31 other fans will be card carriers for their teams.

    There are some intriguing social media activations planned, as well. Procter & Gamble’s Tide brand will tweet out pictures of draftees wearing their new jersey “colors” after they are drafted. Longtime league sponsor Campbell Soup will support its 17-year-old “Mama’s Boy” campaign and celebrate the fact the draft is being held days before Mother’s Day by donating 200 cans of Chunky soup to a local food bank every time a first-round draftee thanks his mom personally or via social or traditional media, which will then be distributed using Campbell’s social media handles and #NFLmoms.

    Frito-Lay’s Ruffles is launching a campaign that asks fans to tweet their trivial problems using the hashtag #RoughLife for a chance to win NFL prizes. New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker will be the face of the campaign, which builds from the brand’s pitch of the “problems” that come from having a chip not sturdy enough for dip.

    Nike is again producing customized NFL jerseys for draftees on site. As of press time, Nike had 14 rookies signed among this year’s class of draft prospects (see chart), double the number that the brand had last year heading into the draft. In the New York market specifically, Nike is supporting its draft activation with digital and out-of-home messaging.

    New Era is using the draft to debut a Draft Reflective cap, which has reflective material on top of the cap’s gray visor that reveals a “mosaic of team word marks and logos” when exposed to a camera or camera-phone flash.

     

    New Era’s Draft Reflective cap reveals team marks on the visor when exposed to flash.

    Bud Light is presenting sponsor of the 16 hours of live draft coverage on ESPN, and ESPN2 will televise all 16 hours of the draft across Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The draft also will be streamed on WatchESPN. Additionally, ESPN will present more than a dozen hours of NFL draft-related studio programming from Thursday through Sunday. Other principal sponsors are GMC, Experian, Mars and Oberto Beef Jerky.

    NFL Network will have 51 hours of live coverage and has signed Verizon as its presenting sponsor. Lexus, GM and Bridgestone also have primary positions.


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  • Murray exits Insignia for UA; more changes said to be in store

    Insignia Sports & Entertainment, the New York marketing agency launched two years ago with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, is losing its president.

    Former NFL sponsorship chief Peter Murray is departing for a senior marketing position at Under Armour, where he’ll focus on global brand development and sports marketing, including oversight of soccer and the Olympics. Murray will report to Matt Mirchin, executive vice president of global marketing, with a dotted line into Charlie Maurath, president of international.

    Murray
    Bob Brennfleck
    has taken over as CEO and president at Insignia. Brennfleck has been at the New York Jets for 12 years, most recently as vice president, partnership and media sales.

    Sources said that the agency ownership structure also was changing and that the Insignia name would not continue after this summer’s Guinness-titled International Champions Cup soccer tournament. We’re assured by several involved parties that the soccer tourney will endure past this year, as will Ross’ hand in sports and entertainment marketing.

    > SAILING THE OCEAN GREEN: Heineken has signed on with Sail Newport as the first sponsor of the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race’s Newport Stopover May 5-17, 2015. It’s the only North American stop during the Volvo Race’s nine-month circumnavigation of the globe.

    While in Newport, there’s a Sailing Village expected to attract 100,000-plus, within which Heineken will have a beer garden. Sail Newport also is working with Live Nation to stage four concerts during the layover and is looking for a presenting sponsor there.

    In addition to intellectual property and official beer designation, Heineken gets media content, sponsorship of in-shore racing, hospitality and sponsorship of the restart when the global marathon leaves Newport for the trans-Atlantic leg to Lisbon, Portugal, on May 17.

    The coffee’s cold, but Big Papi’s hot: David Ortiz shoots a Dunkin’ ad at Fenway Park.
    Photo by: ALEX RADETSKY

    > BIG PAPI COFFEE: Add New England institution Dunkin’ Donuts to the list of corporate patrons backing World Series MVP David Ortiz.

    Last week the Boston Red Sox star took advantage of a rare off-day to shoot a pair of TV ads in and around Fenway Park, along with some English- and Spanish-language radio, and some print, outdoor and digital, under the purview of longtime Dunkin’ Donuts creative agency Hill Holliday. The ad effort is backing Dunkin’s line of ice cream-flavored iced coffees and should break before the end of May.

    It’s the second time around as a Dunkin’ spokesman for Big Papi, who signed a multiyear deal with the brand. Alex Radetsky’s Radegen Sports Management handles marketing for Ortiz, who also has endorsement agreements with Samsung, New Era, Sony PlayStation, Capri Sun and Pedigree dog food, and a memorabilia deal with Fanatics.com.

    > COMINGS & GOINGS: Barry McMullin joins Premier Partnerships’ New York City office as senior vice president, corporate marketing. He’s worked at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee, the NBA, Wasserman Media Group and, most recently, PBR, where he was senior vice president of sales. … Heidi Sandreuter, Pepsi Beverages Americas head of sports, has left the beverage marketer after nearly 15 years to join Under Armour as vice president of women’s marketing. … Former NFL player Kevin Carter has departed the PGA of America after almost eight years, where he was chief business officer. … SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 winner Alex Chang, who was honored for his work in 2013 when he was vice president of sports and entertainment marketing at AmEx, has left IMG College. He was vice president of national sales there for less than a year.

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


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