Coca-Cola has signed eight athletes to be the face of its Olympic marketing around the ‘12 London Games. The signings represent an expansion of Coca-Cola's traditional "six pack" marketing program and include a number of firsts for the company, which signed its first diver and first female boxer. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson will again be part of the promotion after being one of the six athletes used in the lead up to the '08 Beijing Games. The "eight pack" for '12 also includes diver David Boudia, wrestler Henry Cejudo, boxer Marlen Esparza, tennis player John Isner, paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, women’s soccer player Alex Morgan and hurdler David Oliver. The athletes will be featured at POS and in advertising that is developed around the London Games. Coca-Cola Dir of Olympic Marketing Dina Gerson said, "There was an opportunity here to go with a statement and not go with the tried and true. We felt it was a great time to diversify our portfolio and give new depth and breadth to different sports than we may have partnered with in the past." The company expanded its portfolio of athletes by two because of retail customers’ desire to showcase more athletes in stores and because it has begun selling an 8-pack of mini-Coca-Cola cans, Gerson said. She added, "We wanted to provide the diversity to align our different retail customers with athletes and sports that made sense for their business."
GOING BACK TO THE WELL: This is the third consecutive Olympics Coca-Cola has selected a group of athletes to represent it in promotions and at POS. In making the selections, the company looked for athletes with medal potential; diversity in sport, ethnicity and gender; appeal to teens and moms alike; and compelling stories. Coca-Cola's ‘08 athletes included Johnson, sprinter Sanya Richards, swimmer Natalie Coughlin, taekwondo athlete Stephen Lopez, triathlete Andy Potts and basketball player LeBron James. Gerson said James will be used in marketing and promotion around one of Coca-Cola's other brands leading to the London Games.
FedEx today announced that it extended its title sponsorship of the PGA Tour's St. Jude Classic through the '14 tournament. The June tournament in Memphis had brought on FedEx as part of a one-year deal for this year's event, and today's extension will be for three more years. FedEx had been the title sponsor of its hometown event from '86-'06 before moving over to title sponsor the FedExCup in '07. The tournament benefits the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and has raised nearly $25M for the facility since '70. Financial specifics were not available, but title sponsorships on the PGA Tour range from $6-8M a year. The completion of this deal comes on the heels of Northern Trust last Friday renewing its entitlement of the annual Tour event at Riviera Country Club through '16. The Tour has one title sponsorship left to sell for The Heritage to fill all of its title sponsorships for the '12 season (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal). THEGOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard writes the announcement could be an "encouraging sign for the Tour as they head into negotiations with FedEx to continue [to be a] sponsor of the circuit's season-long points race." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem Sunday indicated that he was "optimistic FedEx would remain the umbrella sponsorship of the points race beyond 2013" (THEGOLFCHANNEL.com, 5/17).
ON THE MEMORIAL'S SIDE: In Columbus, Jeff Bell reports Nationwide Insurance is "making its debut as presenting sponsor" of the PGA Tour Memorial Tournament next month, and company marketing execs Matthew Jauchius and John Aman are "beaming about the sponsorship and the promise of its marketing reach." When the Memorial tees off June 2, it will mark the "first time a Columbus-based company is the top sponsor for the tournament," held at Murfield Village Golf Club in the Columbus suburb of Dublin. Nationwide replaces Morgan Stanley, whose eight-year presenting sponsorship ended last year. Jauchius said that Nationwide has created an ad featuring golfer Stewart Cink and highlighting the tournament, the insurance company and the Nationwide Children's Hospital, a TV version of which "will begin running on CBS golf telecasts" this weekend. In addition, Nationwide "will activate its sponsorship with several new twists for the Memorial." At the course, the company "will give away mini radios that fans can clip to their ears to hear an XM Satellite Radio broadcast of the tournament." Also, Nationwide "will set up golf simulators and videos at tournament entrances for fans." The company's logo will be "on tournament scoreboards, pairing sheets and The Memorial magazine, but the tourney will continue its ban on advertising on the course" (BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS, 5/13 issue).
Charlotte Motor Speedway’s marketing department “wasted no time in trying to capitalize on the feud between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, celebrating the drivers' spat in an advertisement” for Saturday's All-Star Race, according Jenna Fryer of the AP. The digital ad “went viral two days after Busch and Harvick tangled post-race” at the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Racewayon May 7. It features the image of Harvick “trying to punch Busch through his open window as Busch uses his car to nudge Harvick's empty car out of the way.” The ad reads, “It Gets Settled In The Race For $1 Million." Fryer noted NASCAR fined Busch and Harvick $25,000 each, and "placed them on probation through June 15.” Although probation “doesn't have a clear definition in NASCAR, the drivers have likely been told to stay away from each other on and off the track for the next month.” CMS officials “launched the ad before the NASCAR penalties were handed down, but make no apologies for the mixed message being sent to race fans.” CMS President Marcus Smith: "It's current news and it helps to attract some attention to the event. That, along with great racing all year long, has helped with ticket sales." Fryer noted CMS’ primary TV ad for the All-Star Race has been a "Wild West" themed commercial with NASCAR President Mike Helton in a "cameo role" (AP, 5/16).
AD SALES UP SLIGHTLY: Speed is televising Saturday's All-Star Race, and it is 1-2% ahead of its '10 ad sales for its Sprint All-Star week and race programming. The network has added new advertisers like Funai, a Japanese electronics company, Wal-Mart and Weight Watchers Online for Men. It also has seen increased spending from past sponsors like Lowe's and Sprint. Speed VP/Sales David Safran said, "Coming off the good start with Speedweeks, we've had a lot of momentum and All-Star is really well sold." Lowe's is running a promotion around five-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in the race. The home improvement store is offering customers 5% off their purchase when they use a Lowe's credit card in stores. Sprint, the naming-rights partner for the All-Star Race, plans to debut a new product in similar fashion to the HTC Evo 4G phone it unveiled and promoted during the '10 event. Funai, which is the parent company of Magnavox and Sylvania, will be the official HD sponsor of NASCAR on Speed, and Weight Watchers Online for Men will do its first male marketing initiative by sponsoring a custom feature during the lead-up to the NASCAR All-Star Showdown (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
In an effort to drive tune-in for its six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series broadcasts, Turner has launched a multiplatform marketing initiative that features a tailgating hauler that fans will be able to help design and win through a sweepstakes competition. "The Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle," as Turner is calling it, will debut this week in Charlotte during the Sprint All-Star Race. It will then make stops in N.Y., Pocono, Michigan, Daytona Beach, Kentucky and Loudon, N.H. TNT's coverage of NASCAR begins June 12 with the Pocono 500. In addition to the hauler, TNT will erect logos in downtown Charlotte this week and equip several service stations in the city with signage and banners. Turner Senior VP/Strategy, Marketing & Programming Christina Miller said, "We're always about connecting with our fans and driving consumption for the sport. Getting more people to see the races and be aware of the races is part of the results we're looking for."
Dick's Sporting Goods and Pittsburgh Marathon officials announced last Friday that they "have agreed to a 10-year sponsorship deal that will keep the two names linked until 2021," according to Michael Sanserino of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. The Pittsburgh-based sports retailer "has been the race's title sponsor since the marathon was revived in 2009 after a five-year hiatus." The two sides "started discussions last summer to renew the existing agreement." Marathon officials "submitted an initial proposal, and Dick's Sporting Goods countered with an offer that added years to the agreement" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 5/14). In Pittsburgh, Karen Price noted Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon organizers "plan to focus on making the race a topnotch, smoothly run event." Race Dir Patrice Matamoros said, "We're going to deliver a race that people want to run, that people want to get into the Pittsburgh Marathon." Registration for this year's marathon, which was run Sunday, "was capped and sold out" at 18,000 participants, up from 16,000 in '10 and 10,500 in '09. Matamoros said that "while the 'big picture' plan is to increase the numbers, organizers are almost at critical mass." She stressed that the "emphasis is going to be on avoiding problems that can arise when an event becomes too big, too fast." Marathon emcee Rudy Novotny said that the 10-year sponsorship agreement "is remarkable." Novotny: "Sponsor dollars are still down in this economy, so to see Dick's step up and sign not a three-year or a five-year but a 10-year deal, it's absolutely unheard of. It means that the marathon can continue to grow and gives them an opportunity to serve not just the community but runners as well" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/14).