Farmers Insurance signed a three-year deal late last week to become the primary sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 car, beginning in '12 when Kasey Kahne replaces Mark Martin as the car's driver. Sources said the deal makes Farmers the primary sponsor on the car for 22 races. Terms of the agreement were not available, but typical primary sponsorships sell for as much as $15M. The agreement comes less than a month after the Farmers logo made its first appearance at a NASCAR race on the No. 25 car during the Sprint All-Star Race and builds on the insurer's recent surge in sports sponsorships. Over the last two years, it has signed on as the title sponsor of a PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, the naming-rights partner for a new NFL stadium in L.A. and as the primary sponsor for five NASCAR races this season on the No. 5 car. At the time of signing its initial deal with Hendrick in April, 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." Farmers is the second new sponsor Hendrick Motorsports has brought into NASCAR in the last year. At the end of '10, it signed a deal with the AARP Foundation to sponsor its No. 24 car driven by Jeff Gordon. Hendrick Motorsports declined to comment.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Yankees SS Derek Jeter moves more product than any other MLB player and has done so for at least a decade. Accordingly, more than 10 MLB licensees are combining to produce a variety of products as Jeter begins a 10-game home stand tonight in the Bronx, needing 14 hits to reach 3,000. Tops among the licensing efforts are those from VF's Majestic brand. MLB's longtime uniform rights holder will have around 15 different T-shirts designs for various men’s, women’s and youth shirts, available once Jeter reaches 3,000 hits. “This is one of the biggest names in baseball on a dominant team in the biggest market,” said Jim Pisani, President of VF's Licensed Sports Group. “We think it will be a significant boost for business and so far our bookings have been national in scope and in every channel, from sporting goods to mass.” Michael Lewis Forever Collectibles/Team Beans is marketing commemorative DJ3K silicone bracelets for $5, $1 of which will go to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter will wear the bracelet in tonight’s game against the Red Sox. Other licensees expected to sell commemorative product include Wincraft, Steiner Collectibles, New Era, Twins 47, Mounted Memories, and PhotoFile, which hopes to sell photography-based licensed product at Yankee Stadium as soon as the night it happens (Terry Lefton, THE DAILY).
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: On Long Island, Jim Baumbach writes Jeter’s 3,000th hit could be a “memorabilia bonanza.” From his "bat to his spikes to the base from which he takes a bow, everything he touches on that day can become an instant collectible for a rarified market.” Steiner Sports Marketing CEO Brandon Steiner said that the "most valuable items such as Jeter’s Yankees jersey and bats could fetch as much as six figures each.” All game-used items put up for public sale “will be funneled through” Steiner Sports, which has contracts with both the Yankees and Jeter. The firm said it will have employees present at games to “organize and authenticate” the game-used items. In the days following Jeter’s 3,000th hit, the Yankees will decide “which items the team will give” Steiner to offer for sale. In addition, Steiner Sports plans to “take dirt from the field -- if Jeter gets No. 3,000 at Yankee Stadium -- and attach it to a framed photo.” The firm also will sell “commemorative ticket stubs from the game and a replica Jeter bat inscribed with the details of the 3,000th hit.” In addition, an MLB spokesperson said that the league will start selling the commemorative DJ3K bracelet today. The bracelet is “just the first of what aficionados expect will be an array of 3,000-hit memorabilia for fans to choose from” (NEWSDAY, 6/7).
Sports business analysts have interpreted Li Na's French Open victory “as a potential watershed moment for the growth of tennis in China in general as well as a launching pad for her own endorsement possibilities,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. It also could give Nike a "boost in China where the Oregon sports and apparel company has targeted for growth.” Nike on Sunday “capitalized on its tennis star's success by giving away a free Li Na ‘Use Sport to Change Everything -- JUST DO IT’ posters at over 50 Nike stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.” Brettman noted Li after losing in the Australian Open finals in January “signed endorsement deals with watch brand Rolex, ice-cream maker Haagen-Dazs and medical tape developer SpiderTech.” IMG’s Max Eisenbud, Li’s agent, said that “conversations for more endorsements were underway before” Li’s win on Saturday. And the “talks are heating up this week” (OREGONLIVE.com, 6/6). In Sydney, Valkerie Baynes noted as China's first grand slam singles champion, Li "will be a big name in the world's most populous nation for some time.” Nike “printed up just 30 special edition T-shirts with ‘Be Yourself’ written in Chinese on the front next to an Eiffel Tower.” Li said, "I think now they should make more because a lot of fans were asking where they have the T-shirt" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 6/6).
CHINESE AMBASSADOR: Bloomberg TV’s Michele Steele noted Li “becomes an even more attractive target for sponsors and advertisers who are hoping to market, not just sports equipment to China, but luxury goods in that country where tennis is considered an aspirational sport.” In addition to Li's current sponsors, Eisenbud is “in conversations with about five or six other companies seeking to endorse her” (“In The Loop,” Bloomberg TV, 6/6). CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted 113 million people "watched in her native China on television, and the marketing opportunities are obviously endless, given the country’s size and growth.” Eisenbud said, “It was a really huge shot in the arm for women’s tennis.” He added, “You’re going to see a lot of blue chip brands really want to work with Li Na and really help bolster their position in China” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 6/6).
The WTA yesterday announced that BNP Paribas and Turkey-based bank Turk Ekonomi Bankasy will become joint title sponsors of the WTA Championships, which will be held in Istanbul from '11-13. Per the three-year deal, TEB-BNP Paribas becomes the event's official bank and will receive global exposure through on-court branding, broadcast and digital activation. The financial institutions also will get marketing opportunities on all WTA platforms, including digital and social media. TEB also will activate domestically in Turkey. This marks the fifth major deal signed by the WTA in the past 12 months (WTA).
CHECK PLUS: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reported by moving top-ranked men's player Rafael Nadal "out of his trademark cut-off muscle T's and capri shorts and putting him into more conservative tennis attire," Nike managed to "do a much more robust business and tennis specialty retailers obviously appreciated that." N.Y.-based Mason's Tennis Mart's Mark Mason said, "We had some kids buying the capris, but most older guys aren't going to show up sleeveless to the country club. Nike understood that it was a limited market and they could only sell so much of it." Houston-based retailer Tennis Express Managing Partner Brad Blume: "The kids didn't like the capris. They thought that they were too restrictive" (CNBC.com, 6/6).
CHOMPING AT THE BIT: Former U.S. Open champ Andy Roddick revealed that he will team up with longtime sponsor Lacoste to "create his own line of sportswear, including polos, shorts, track pants and jackets." Prices will range from $85 for a pair of shorts to $185 for a track jacket. Roddick will "wear the line exclusively when he hits the court" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 6/2).
The GUARDIAN’s Matt Scott cites a source as saying that “in the weeks before” FIFA’s presidential election Visa "formally reconfirmed its commitment to FIFA, which runs until after the 2014 World Cup.” There are “strong hints that the financial-services company is in the midst of negotiations to extend and even to raise the level of its $200M sponsorship beyond 2014” (GUARDIAN, 6/7).
IN THE KNICK OF TIME: On Long Island, Barbara Barker notes Carmelo Anthony is “working on making the most of his first offseason as a Knick, expanding his brand beyond the basketball court.” Anthony: “I never wanted to be categorized as an athlete or an NBA player. I want to reach out and touch a lot of people.” He “readily admits that the opportunity to expand his brand by living in a big market like New York was a major reason he pushed" for the Nuggets to trade him during the season. Anthony recently shot a campaign for Ultra Sheen Men and is “getting ready to launch a new Nike sneaker Friday" (NEWSDAY, 6/7).
NEW THREADS: Newly promoted EPL club Swansea City has “signed a new Premier League kit deal” with adidas. The team’s new home uniform “will be launched on June 18 in the Liberty Stadium club shop and online.” A new away uniform will also “be unveiled within the coming weeks.” Both uniforms and training wear “will feature adidas ClimaCool and ClimaLite technologies.” To mark the new deal, the Liberty Stadium club shop “will undergo a complete store makeover” (WALESONLINE.co.uk, 6/3).
PANTS ON FIRE? In Memphis, Bryan Brasher writes golfer John Daly’s wardrobe “will stand out even more than usual” at this week’s PGA Tour FedEx St. Jude Classic. A couple of “aspiring fashion designers who also happen to be patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital” were told by Daly to decorate a pair of his Lions Blue pants “any way they pleased.” Fans who attend this week’s tournament “will be able to bid on Daly's specially designed pants at the St. Jude Kiosk” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/7).
ON THE CATWALK: In Boston, Thomas Grillo reports model Heidi Klum is “stepping into New Balance sneakers.” Klum yesterday “expanded her wardrobe" with New Balance, "adding a footwear collection with a pair of shoes out now and more on the way this fall.” The new sneakers “have a retro look, or ‘heritage silhouettes,’ with the 410 model priced at $90 and the 320 model $80” (BOSTON HERALD, 6/7).