NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin has "struck a deal with Nike's Jordan Brand for the 2011 season," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. The brand's Jumpman logo "will appear on Hamlin's uniform belt, back, shoulders and racing gloves" as part of the deal. Sources said that Hamlin, whose primary Sprint Cup Series sponsor is FedEx, "will not wear Jordan brand shoes in the car, but he will wear them off the track." Rovell noted the "deal was forged in part because Michael Jordan, whose brand has sponsored a motorcycle racing team since 2004, struck up a relationship with Hamlin" (CNBC.com, 2/10). Hamlin on Thursday said, "It's a big deal for myself and really NASCAR. The Jordan Brand has never been in NASCAR before." ESPN.com's David Newton reported Hamlin and Jordan developed their relationship after Jordan bought the Bobcats last year. Hamlin said, "He's always been an avid motorsports fan. He just never knew the right situation to get into NASCAR, and he felt like I was the right representative for him." Hamlin believes that the Jumpman logo "will help broaden the awareness of NASCAR beyond its typical fan base when his name is mentioned" with other Jordan Brand endorsers such as Heat G Dwyane Wade and Yankees SS Derek Jeter. He added, "This is a huge stepping point, and hopefully something that turns into something very big within our sport" (ESPN.com, 2/10).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Buick has “signed on as the presenting sponsor of a new March Madness postgame show to air on truTV and TBS,” according to Anthony Crupi of MEDIAWEEK. Buick is sponsoring 13 episodes of a half-hour show titled “Inside March Madness Presented by Buick.” The program “tips off on Tuesday, March 15 on truTV, immediately after the Turner net airs the first two games” of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Buick-sponsored postgame show “should debut at around” 11:30pm ET that night. Coverage of the second round begins March 17 with the 11:00am “Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off” show on truTV, which “will throw to CBS’ Game 1 coverage at noon.” Games will be “staggered in half-hour intervals, providing viewers with an opportunity to watch more live action throughout the frenetic first two weeks of play.” "Inside March Madness" will “jump from truTV to Turner sibling TBS in the Third Round, which begins Saturday, March 19.” A “special edition" of Buick’s postgame show will air on truTV on April 1, “setting the table for the Final Four” on April 2 and 4 (MEDIAWEEK.com, 2/10).
ENGINEERED TO LAST: CABLEFAX DAILY’s Cathy Applefeld Olson noted Infiniti last month signed a “new corporate sponsorship” with the NCAA, and the “broad-reaching relationship includes ‘Inspired Performance’ advertising across the newly formed ESPN-CBS-Turner triumvirate.” Infiniti Senior Manager of Media & Experiential Kathleen Roznowski said there “will be some slight shifting of the messaging from the brand and product standpoint” across the media platforms, but the “main message -- that inspiration is contagious -- will flow through all of our messaging on all networks.” Roznowski: “We started brainstorming with ESPN last summer because we already had a relationship with them and have had a couple years working with them across cable network buys specifically related to basketball. ... The CBS and Turner negotiations did take some time to figure out, in terms of how we were going to put the package together.” Roznowski added Infiniti has “some robust sponsorships around the brackets and will build another online component with another charity element based around the brackets.” Roznowski said the company will be in "a lot of very targeted high-reach digital places" leading up to the start of the NCAA tournament, including CBSSports.com, Yahoo Sports and YouTube (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/8).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will allow an attorney representing the major sports unions to argue for five minutes next week on behalf of Sam Keller, a former college football QB suing Electronic Arts and the NCAA for allegedly using his image in video games without his permission. The five minutes will be taken out of the 20 minutes allotted to Keller. The unions hired Paul Clement of King & Spalding LLP to argue on their behalf. The court had previously turned Keller down once in his effort to have the unions argue their support for him, but at that time he was arguing to supplement his time, not replace it. The case is closely watched because were Keller to win, it would change the economics of the sports video gaming industry. EA argues its games are works of art and protected by the First Amendment, so it need not pay fees to athletes like those within the NCAA games. Keller’s case continues to wind its way through the District Court level. What is at issue at the appellate level is the lower court's denial of EA’s motion to dismiss the case. EA appealed that ruling. The unions are the MLBPA, NBPA, NFLPA, NHLPA and MLSPU. They filed a friend of the court brief on Keller’s behalf in November. The appellate court arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.
NASCAR driver Greg Biffle Thursday said that he and primary sponsor 3M are "close to reaching an extension with Roush Fenway Racing." Biffle is in the final year of his contract with RFR, and he said that "negotiations on his deal are to the point that they could be concluded before the end of the first quarter of the season, or perhaps by the break that occurs after the third Cup race." He added that he expects the deal "to be in the two- to three-year range, as most recent contracts have been." However, he admitted the value of it will be "significantly" less than his current contract. Biffle said if sponsorship revenue is down 40%, "that's got to come from somewhere." But he added that "the 3M portion of the deal will surprise people, a suggestion that the length of the contract could be for more than three years" (David Newton, ESPN.com, 2/10).
THE THIRD WHEEL: NASCAR driver Robby Gordon announced Thursday that he and his Robby Gordon Motorsports team have "reached a deal to run Dodges in the Cup races he enters this season, which right now stands at about 18 to 20." Dodge had "three factory-backed teams" in the Sprint Cup Series in '10, with Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski. Penske has since "ended its Cup program with Hornish, which effectively allowed for another Dodge program" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/11).
NEED FOR SPEED: Bristol Dragway officials Thursday announced that they have "landed a title sponsor for their marquee event." The Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers have "signed a four-year deal with the dragway, one that includes title sponsorship of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, which will be run on Father’s Day weekend." The group had partnered with Bristol Motor Speedway for the past two years (KINGSPORT TIMES NEWS, 2/11).
EXPANDING THE SET-UP: In Indianapolis, Scott Olson reported IndyCar team Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is "investing roughly $1.2 million to expand its ... headquarters by 12,000 square feet." The facility will "house a new machine shop outfitted with high-tech milling machines manufactured by Hurco Cos." Hurco also is "expected to sign on as one of the team's sponsors" for the '11 season. Meanwhile, team co-Owner Dennis Reinbold said that the team is "expected to name a new driver 'relatively soon'" to replace Mike Conway, who signed with Andretti Autosport (IBJ.com, 2/10).
NBC Network Ad Sales President Marianne Gambelli said that the net "will be looking to charge more than the nearly $3 million per 30-second spot Fox got" for its coverage of Super Bowl XLV when NBC broadcasts Super Bowl XLVI next February. Gambelli said, "Obviously with the ratings and what it's done, we're going to push price. Where it goes, I'm not exactly sure yet, but we've got a lot of conversations going on, we have a lot of activity and there's a lot of demand for it." Gambelli's comments came as part of a panel discussion at the Association of National Advertisers' TV and Everything Video Forum in N.Y. (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 2/10).
SPOT-ON RATINGS: In N.Y. Stuart Elliott reported the goal of advertisers and agencies to be able to “track TV ratings on a commercial-by-commercial basis” is “drawing closer.” Nielsen on Thursday said that it “would adopt a system of digitally coding commercials that is administered by the Association of National Advertisers and the Four A’s.” The system, known as “Ad-ID, enables individual commercials to be tracked from the beginning to the end of their lives.” ANA President & CEO Robert Liodice on Thursday announced the agreement with Nielsen, and said, “Nielsen has endorsed Ad-ID, to use with its watermarking technology. This is a critically important step” (NYTIMES.com, 2/10).
JUST DOING IT: In Las Vegas, Norm Clarke reports Broncos QB Tim Tebow was “in town for a Nike photo shoot that included” Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Lions DT Ndamukong Suh (LVRJ.com, 2/10)....Pistons F and Sweden native Jonas Jerebko is being profiled in “American Made,” a “four-part Internet documentary by Nike” (FREEP.com, 2/8).
ROUNDUP: Mercedes-Benz has signed a five-year deal to become a partner of the British Open. The automaker, which also has deals with The Masters, the PGA Championship and the '12 Ryder Cup, "has been involved with golf since the 1980's" (GULF TODAY, 2/9)....Skechers will be the presenting sponsor of the LA Sports Awards on Feb. 24 at the Beverly Hilton. Skechers is the first presenting sponsor in the award show’s six-year history. FS West will air the awards show on March 4 (Skechers).