The U.S. Army “will sponsor another motorsports team, reaffirming its need to spend public money in auto racing" even after U.S. Rep Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) “challenged that notion earlier this year,” according to Dustin Long of the ROANOKE TIMES. The U.S. Army will sponsor Revolution Racing, which is “comprised of drivers in the Drive for Diversity program.” Army Lt. General Benjamin Freakley said that the military unit is “paying $215,000 to sponsor the team.” Freakley said, “People don't know about the military. Most of it is, they're not unpatriotic or anything like that, they just don't know. … What better platform than motorsports. America comes to motorsports. They come to NASCAR; they watch NASCAR.” The U.S. Army, National Guard and Air Force “will spend about $30 million combined to sponsor Sprint Cup teams this season.” McCollum “sponsored an amendment in February that targeted military sponsorship of NASCAR teams” (ROANOKE TIMES, 5/1).
TIMES ARE A CHANGIN':In Richmond, Paul Woody wrote, "Nothing about NASCAR is inexpensive.” Drivers “want big contracts, every team needs a primary car and a backup car, and just getting a hauler from one track to the next runs into some cash.” NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer said, "It's very challenging for every race team. NASCAR hasn't been on easy street, but it has been pretty easy to come by sponsors over the years.” Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said, "It's different from the heyday, from where we were four, five, six years ago. The economic downturn has been severe, and it hit NASCAR harder than a lot of sports. But we have seen increased activity from potential sponsors over the past year, a lot more meetings and discussions. That's a positive sign." He added, "The sales cycle is clearly longer than it has been before. That's not necessarily a bad thing. All the parties are taking a different approach to make sure the deal is structured the right way to achieve a particular partner's objective. And we're not seeing one sponsor who wants to take the entire year" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/30).
Cam Newton, who was the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Panthers, “boasts a Heisman Trophy and a national championship on his résumé, but he’s also known for numerous off-field controversies,” and that combination “is likely to fuel interest in Newton as a pitchman in the weeks ahead,” according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. GMR Marketing Senior VP/Sports Ed Kiernan said, “He dresses like a Brooks Brothers model, he looks good, he’s bright and articulate.” He added, “I know brands are looking at him as a platform. And that will shine a bright light on Charlotte. You’re going to see Cam in lots of national TV spots and a lot of print campaigns.” Even before Newton “begins talks with the Panthers on his first pro contract, he has already become a millionaire.” He signed in February “an endorsement deal with apparel and shoe company Under Armour estimated to be worth $1 million per year.” Panthers execs “were quick to say Newton was chosen for what he brings to the huddle, but they also acknowledged the quarterback’s marketing sizzle.” Signature Sports Group Principal Steve Hall said that the arrival of Newton “should also reinvigorate interest in the Panthers across the Carolinas.” Jersey and ticket sales “are likely to spike with Newton on the team’s roster” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/29).
HOT ON THE MARKET: Fans have pre-ordered about 135 Newton replica jerseys online and at Bank of America Stadium’s team store since the Panthers drafted the QB, said Tom Crocker, GM for Delaware North Sportservice, the Panthers’ retail provider. To jump-start sales, Sportservice sent an e-mail alert to Panthers season-ticket holders within minutes of Carolina selecting Newton as the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. The jerseys cost $85. Sportservice is also selling Cam Newton T-shirts for $22-28 on shoppanthers.com (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal). In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted Newton wore No. 2 at Auburn and on Friday said that “he’d like to keep it.” Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen last season wore No. 2 as his jersey number. Clausen on Saturday said, “It’s mine right now. We’ll see what happens.” When asked if he “set an asking price” for the number, he said while smiling, “We’ll see what happens” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/1).
Gatorade’s G Series Fit is “getting a dedicated ad blitz, including new media buys, in the latest sprint toward broadening the brand's scope beyond sports drinks into sports nutrition and innovation,” according to Natalie Zmuda of AD AGE. G Series Fit is “meant to appeal to a ‘fitness’ athlete,” with a “three-item line of products meant to be consumed before, during and after workouts.” The new series “builds on Gatorade's strategy to focus on its core athletic consumers rather than the lifestyle drinkers that had gravitated toward it in years past.” G Series Fit products “get their first exposure in the spot, ‘Inside Edge,’ which also features the original G Series products.” Dedicated advertising for the new products “will begin in the coming weeks and include TV, print and digital buys,” while G Series, introduced last year, “will also have dedicated ads.” Media buys “include new outlets for the brand, such as E! and MapMyFitness.com.” Gatorade will feature several athletes in the campaign, including U.S. Gold Medal winning sprinter Allyson Felix and swimmer Ryan Lochte, U.S. men's national soccer team G Tim Howard, surfer Coco Ho and dancers Lauren Froderman and Stephen Boss. They "will be shown during their fitness routines," rather than competing. Gatorade Senior Dir of Consumer Engagement Morgan Flatley declined to comment on the budget for the campaign, but said the G Series Fit launch is a "huge priority." Kantar reported that Gatorade spent $113M “on measured media last year” (ADAGE.com, 5/1).
USA Water Polo has signed a seven-year deal with Capital One that makes the bank the NGB's official credit card. As a result of the deal, Capital One will issue three themed USA Water Polo credit cards that offer rewards for everything from membership in the organization to merchandise. The deal makes USA Water Polo one of the first NGBs to have its own credit card. USA Water Polo CMO Jen Rottenberg said, "We're excited because we think we have a value proposition for our members here. They get a great rewards program, and I think they're going to be really excited about it." The official credit cards will become available Friday. In addition to Capital One, USA Water Polo has recently signed deals with American Pistachio and Malibu Wellness, a hair and skin care company. Its other partners include PowerBar, H2O Audio and Ludus Tours.