Former Univ. of Alabama RB Mark Ingram will be a spokesperson for Subway restaurants, starting with activity around next week’s NFL Draft. Ingram, a Heisman Trophy winner and member of the Crimson Tide’s ‘10 national championship team, will make appearances, blog and do a PR tour for the QSR in N.Y. next week. For the past several years, Subway has selected a top collegian to put a face on its marketing efforts around the Draft, generally one of the first endorsements for those players. "He’s got a great football pedigree, since his dad played in the NFL. We haven’t had a player from Alabama before, and, most importantly, he’s already a fan of Subway and it's important for us to have a presence in and around an event that delivers as many eyeballs as the NFL Draft does for a mass brand like ours," said Subway CMO Tony Pace. Former Subway college football endorsers include Ndamukong Suh, Michael Crabtree and Reggie Bush. Ingram will also be on the cover of EA Sports' "NCAA Football 12" video game when it hits retail in July.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Farmers Insurance has signed a five-race primary sponsorship for Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet driven by Mark Martin. The deal makes Farmers an associate sponsor of Martin's car for the remainder of the season. The deal continues Farmers' recent push into sports by adding NASCAR to a portfolio that also includes naming rights for Farmers Field, the planned NFL stadium in downtown L.A., and the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Farmers President of Enterprise Marketing Paul Patsis said, "It's hard to ignore NASCAR and the NFL. They dominate sports. This seemed like a natural extension for us." Patsis said that Farmers plans to use the sponsorship to raise its brand awareness and inspire its sales agents. He added there would be business-to-business opportunities with the Hendrick Automotive Group, which operates 59 car dealerships across nine states. There's currently no formal B2B relationship, Patsis said. This is the California-based insurer's first Sprint Cup team sponsorship since it sponsored Travis Kvapil at an '09 race at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway. Patsis said, "That sort of whet our appetite. We wanted to do research more and look at getting involved in a different way (after Fontana)." Martin will drive a Farmers-branded car at five races: May 21 at the Sprint Cup All-Star Race in Charlotte; June 5 at Kansas Speedway; June 12 at Pocono Raceway; June 26 at Infineon Raceway; and Aug. 27 at Bristol Motor Speedway. In the All-Star Race, Hendrick will field a No. 25 car with a red paint scheme and Farmers logo that resembles the No. 25 Folgers-branded car Hendrick driver Tim Richmond drove in '86 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
KEEP IT RUNNIN': Richard Childress Racing yesterday announced that Caterpillar has agreed to continue its primary sponsorship of RCR's No. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton. Also, Burton has reached an agreement on a multiyear contract extension with the team. Caterpillar has been a NASCAR sponsor since '93. Its current relationship with RCR began in '09 (RCR). SPEEDTV.com's Tom Jensen noted Burton’s deal "solidifies a strong driver-team-sponsor partnership that has enjoyed considerable success on the track and off" (SPEEDTV.com, 4/19).
BIGGER FISH TO FRY: SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass noted while Roush Fenway Racing has signed three-year extensions with driver Greg Biffle and his primary Sprint Cup sponsor, 3M, the NASCAR team "still has Carl Edwards and sponsors Aflac and UPS with contracts that expire at the end of the year." Edwards is "free to talk to any team," and it "could take more than one sponsor to lure him as Aflac in the past has asked for Roush Fenway to find companies to partner with them on its current sponsorship." Edwards also "could command a significant salary, which could require two sponsors to make that work." RFR President Steve Newmark "hopes that signing Biffle and 3M shows Aflac and other companies that sponsoring a driver in the sport will work." In addition, UPS, a primary sponsor for RFR driver David Ragan, "also must re-sign." Ragan's contract with the team is "not up but if he doesn’t have a sponsor, it’s likely Roush would replace him with another driver who has sponsorship" (SCENEDAILY.com, 4/19).
Valero Texas Open officials have "started looking ahead to pressing questions" surrounding the PGA Tour event, including negotiations with the title sponsor, according to Richard Oliver of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. Following the conclusion of this year's tournament last Sunday, Valero Texas Open officials embarked on a "crucial stretch for the event, a fixture on the tour since 1922." Valero Energy Corp.'s "relationship with the Texas Open, at 10 years and counting, is set to expire next year" when the Tour's current TV contract runs out. It has been a "healthy marriage, including record-setting charity fundraising totals." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, "Valero is already a company that understands the intrinsic value of giving back and how that affects corporate image. It (is) a very good match. All the elements are now in place for this to continue to blossom and that's what we're going to be looking to extend in the future." Both tournament and Valero officials say that "negotiations for that to happen will be under way soon." There are "indications that Valero is bullish on extending the relationship, depending on cost and the tournament's strength on the PGA Tour schedule." Valero Dir of Corporate Communications Bill Day said, "We're not in any rush. There's no specific timetable" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/20).
IMPORTED FROM DETROIT? In Detroit, Tim Twentyman notes "time is running out" for the PGA Tour The Heritage to "find a new title sponsor after Verizon dropped its sponsorship 18 months ago." If "no replacement is found, organizers are worried the event could be dropped from the PGA Tour schedule next season," and that could "open up a spot for the Detroit Golf Club." The Michigan course reportedly "has secured a title sponsor (Cadillac) and has hosted" PGA Tour officials, who have "gone through the course and offered a checklist of things club officials would have to do to get approval to host a tournament." The Heritage, which tees off tomorrow, "has been contested at Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., every year since 1969." Heritage Tournament Dir Steve Wilmot said, "I would never have thought a year ago, six months ago and let alone two months ago we'd still be in this position without a title sponsor. We are working extremely close with the PGA Tour and we have not determined when our (deadline) is." Still, Detroit Golf Club President Peter Walocko "sent a letter to members last week, letting them know the club likely will not host an event" in '12 (DETROIT NEWS, 4/20).
Olympic sponsorship in Q&A
Q: What can you say right now about the direction The Olympic Partner program is taking? Do you feel that there are going to be additional TOP sponsors coming abroad before London, or is now a renewal phase?
Heiberg: We have 11 for the time being. Time is slowly but surely running out, but I still hope that we can get number 12 on board before London. I never guaranteed we could. What I said I hope is that we should pass the $1 billion mark when it comes to revenues. We are at around $960 million, so we need another one. Whether we get it or not, I don’t know at this stage. But we are in contact with some companies, yes.
Q: So one of those you hope will bear fruit?
Heiberg: That’s correct, and then we have the renewal process. GE is of course a little bit dependent on what we do on the television side in the United States. We have Acer, and so we will see. McDonald’s is the third one. We are in contact with all three of them, of course.
Q: You suggested there may be some link or some connection between the TV rights in the United States and continuation of the GE sponsorship?
Heiberg: I’m not saying that the one is dependent on the other, but as you know, GE owns NBC, and now Comcast has come into the picture, but we tried to talk to GE hopefully to get them regardless of what happens with the TV contract.
Q: What is the climate like when you go out and make sales calls now on behalf of Olympic sponsorship? Is it different than it was a year or two ago? Are companies giving you more attention without worrying about the economic situation?
Heiberg: Yes, I think we had some tough times, and we had the financial crisis, and it was completely dry for us. But now things have loosened up, and that’s why I say we are in contact with some companies, and they were not there two years ago, but they are there today.
Q: Is TOP a program that will stay?
Heiberg: We have discussed that many times, and we feel that it will stay until at least 2020. That’s why we have not gone any further. … We do not want to go any further, so that we in a couple of years time again can evaluate should we continue the TOP program or should we from 2020 change into something very different (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 4/19).
All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club CEO Ian Ritchie believes that “several of the world's top tennis players are likely to avoid leading tournaments in Britain because of the UK government's policy of taxing their endorsement income,” according to Mitch Phillips of REUTERS. U.K. government rules “state that sportsmen and women competing or even just practicing in the UK are taxed a proportion of their income from endorsements and sponsorships even if those deals have nothing to do with Britain.” Ritchie said, “I think the overarching view is that what will happen is that these guys will choose not to come.” He noted that tennis officials “have been lobbying the UK government for two years on the issue but have yet to receive any reply." AELTCC officials yesterday revealed that the purse for this year's Wimbledon will be $23.9M, up 6.4% from '10, while the men's and women's singles champions each will pocket $1.8M, up 10%. Ritchie said that “those numbers and the kudos of the tournament mean there is no risk of any player staying away from the grand slam," but the AEGON Championships and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals "could suffer” (REUTERS, 4/19). Ritchie said that it “seems unfair individual athletes such as professional golfers, tennis players and athletics stars are subject to the taxation, while stars in team sports such as soccer are not” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/19).
TAXATION WITHOUT RESIDENCY: In DC, Tom Howell Jr. reports DC Council member Jack Evans yesterday introduced a bill “to collect taxes from professional athletes who earn money in the District, but do not live in the city -- a common yet controversial practice across the country.” Evans said that DC “could gain as much as $5 million a year from the levy.” The measure will “need an assist on Capitol Hill,” however, because the DC Home Rule Act of 1973 “prohibits the city from imposing a tax on nonresidents.” Players who live in DC “would be exempt" from the proposed tax, but the bill would extend to athletes who “play for Washington sports franchises but live outside the city’s limits," such as Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/20).
Hublot yesterday announced a multiyear partnership with the Heat, the Switzerland-based watchmaker's first team sponsorship in the U.S. A major component of the deal will see Hublot serve as the presenting sponsor for the premium entrances at AmericanAirlines Arena for Gate 4. The partnership, also designating Hublot as the team's official timekeeper, comes on the heels of the watchmaker's sponsorship deal with Heat G Dwyane Wade (Hublot).
DRIVE FOR SHOW: MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds reports Saab has "signed up as the headline sponsor" for the first PowerPlay Golf event, taking place at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales on May 30. The PowerPlay format, a "quickfire tournament that it is hoped will emulate the success of cricket's Twenty20 format," has been in development "for a few years." Sponsorship agency FastTrack Business Dir Angus McGougan said with IMG, Sky Sports and now Saab "behind it, PowerPlay could really take off." Reynolds notes "marketing support for the debut event, which will be shown on 18 TV channels globally, will run across print, online and PR" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 4/20).
BEST PART OF WAKING UP: Italian coffee brand Lavazza has signed a three-year deal to become the official coffee of Wimbledon. Lavazza will be served "across 60 service points, including 13 public cafes and restaurants, in the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club." The partnership "will be supported by a print and outdoor advertising campaign, including in-store and sampling promotions" in the U.K. In addition, Lavazza will "launch a print, outdoor and online ad campaign across Europe" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 4/20).