Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

3M Thursday announced that it will sponsor horse Mucho Macho Man, known to racing fans as "MMM," for all three Triple Crown races. Mucho Macho Man is widely considered to be a leading contender to win next Saturday's Kentucky Derby (THE DAILY). In Minneapolis, Mike Hughlett reports this is the "first horse racing sponsorship" for Minnesota-based 3M. Terms of the agreement were not revealed, but Mucho Macho Man Owner Patti Reeves, who worked for 14 years in 3M's national marketing department, said that "it's an exclusive deal." 3M's logo "will be emblazoned on the horse's jockey apparel" for the Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/29).

Blackstone Group is teaming up with Callaway Golf “for a possible bid for Fortune Brands Inc's golf business,” according to sources cited by Thomas & Davies of REUTERS. One source said that the deal “could be worth up to” $1B and that final bids for the auction “are due on May 9.” Fortune Brands last year announced plans “to sell or spin off its golf business,” which makes Titleist golf equipment and FootJoy shoes and gloves, and “spin off its home products business.” The golf unit “had revenue of $1.24 billion and operating income of about $80.2 million last year.” A source said that Fortune “may decide in the end to spin off the golf business -- instead of selling it outright -- unless the bid prices come in significantly higher than they did in the first round” (REUTERS, 4/28). Callaway on Thursday said that “sales in its 2011 first quarter were hurt by the disaster in Japan, flooding in Australia and severe weather that delayed the start of the golf season in South Korea.” The company said it sees "early signs" of recovery in Japan, where sales fell $16M, or 30%. Overall, Callaway “saw a profit of $10.1 million on sales of $286 million in its first quarter, which ended March 31, versus a year-ago profit of $17.6 million on sales of $303 million” (, 4/28).

Ad sales for NBA TV are up more than 100% compared to this time a year ago, and those for and related digital platforms are similarly up by strong double-digit percentages, said Turner Sports execs. Top-spending categories include telecom, automotive, financial services and retail. Among particular buys, existing league partner Cisco is expanding its sponsorship of its "NBA Ultimate Playoff Moments" campaign for this year's playoffs to include a digital hub at that includes custom video playlists and additional connections to social media hubs. "We're seeing a lot of momentum thus far in the playoffs," said Turner/SI Digital Exec VP/Ad Sales Walker Jacobs. "We've invested in exclusive content, and invested in getting into new platforms, and we're seeing the marketplace really respond to that" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

TURNER ALMOST OUT OF INVENTORY: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Lombardo & Ourand report Turner has "sold 90 percent of its NBA playoff advertising inventory while reporting a 6 percent increase in sales during the first round of the postseason." ESPN's playoff ad sales "also are pacing ahead of last year's record-high year." However, the rate of growth "has slowed compared with last year, when Turner reported a 26 percent rise in ad sales for the same period." Turner indicated that ad sales for the "highly rated 2010-11 regular season grew by 12 percent compared to an 11 percent growth in ad sales for the 2009-10 season over the 2008-09 season" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/25 issue).

Couture hoping to retain strength
of brand after he retires from UFC
In Las Vegas, Amanda Finnegan notes Randy Couture “has become much more than a fighter” in his 14 years with the UFC, he has “become a brand.” Couture has “parlayed his successes into business ventures outside the ring with T-shirts, gyms, supplements and a budding acting career, all of which he hopes sustain him long after his last fight at UFC 129 on Saturday.” The Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas has “become the headquarters for Randy Couture the brand." His supplement, clothing line and charity, the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation, "are all run from the facility.” In addition, Couture “will start filming on his next two movies, ‘Hijacked’ and ‘The Expendables II,’ later this summer” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 4/29).

THAT'S THE GOAL: U.S. men’s national soccer team and EPL club Everton G Tim Howard is the subject of Allstate’s newest soccer-themed campaign, titled “Protection is Our Game.” Howard stars in comical 15- and 30-second spots in which he dreams about various insurance scenarios while playing. The spots were produced by Leo Burnett, Chicago, and are scheduled to begin airing Friday. They will run during MLS broadcasts on ESPN, ESPN2 and Fox Soccer Channel. Howard signed a one-year deal with Allstate in March. The company in February signed a four-year, eight-figure deal with MLS (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).

In Virginia, Dustin Long notes 17 of the 42 NASCAR Nationwide Series cars entered for Friday's Bubba Burger 250 in Richmond “listed their sponsor as either TBA, TBD or the race team's name, when the entry list was posted Monday.” Five of the top 14 drivers in the Nationwide points standings “did not have a sponsor listed Monday, including series co-leader Justin Allgaier." His team has “since added the same sponsor it had on its car last week at Nashville.” Long writes, “The tight economy strangles NASCAR teams in each of the national series. Race purses have been cut. Costs escalate. Cup sponsorship fees have declined to where companies that once considered sponsoring a Nationwide car can put their logo on a Cup car and be exposed to a larger TV audience.” Still, Nationwide Series officials noted that “there have been eight new primary sponsors this season, although they vary on how many races they've been on a car” (ROANOKE TIMES, 4/29).

NO CHILD'S PLAY HERE: The AP’s Michael Marot noted the Indianapolis 500 next month will send an “unnamed Hot Wheels stunt driver down a huge ramp in an attempt to break the world record for a four-wheel vehicle," and the “hope is that stunts will add older buyers to a market traditionally reserved for children.” The investment also means Hot Wheels “is looking to do more than one show.” IndyCar, which “has a partnership with Hot Wheels, hopes to tap a younger market to fill seats and improve the television ratings that have been lagging for years.” IMS is “selling ticket packages to get a birds-eye view of the jump in the fourth turn.” Race broadcaster ABC “will carve out a 30-minute postrace slot to broadcast the stunt” (AP, 4/27).