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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Red Bull “plans to leave NASCAR at the end of this season,” according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Sources said that a team official traveled to Michigan Int'l Speedway for last weekend’s Sprint Cup race and “told industry leaders Sunday of the impending move.” Red Bull Racing in a statement said, “Red Bull Racing Team is currently seeking outside investors as we evaluate next steps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series." Fryer noted Red Bull is both the owner and sponsor of a two-car Sprint Cup Series team that “has struggled since its 2007 entry into NASCAR and consistently has been plagued by rumors and speculation that the Austrian ownership group will leave the auto racing series.” There has been no reason given for Red Bull’s departure, but the energy drink "markets to the 18-to-34 age group -- the demographic NASCAR has consistently lost in its current ratings slide.” It is possible team VP & GM Jay Frye "could line up investors to buy the race team from Red Bull" (AP, 6/20). ESPN's Ken Schrader said, "You hate to see an owner potentially leave the sport and a good, good sponsor like Red Bull’s been” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 6/20).

IMPACT ON DRIVERS: ESPN’s Marty Smith cited sources as saying that Red Bull Racing has “no plans at this time to take its brand elsewhere to sponsor another driver.” Smith noted it is “an intriguing development because there are a number of drivers, including Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Juan Pablo Montoya, who will be free agents after this Sprint Cup Series season” (, 6/20). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee noted Red Bull “had long been rumored as the 2012-and-beyond destination for Mark Martin.” But with the company’s possible exit from the sport, Martin's "potential seats just narrowed by two” (, 6/20).’s Lee Spencer noted the “hot rumor of late has been the return of Ray Evernham in an ownership role similar to Tony Stewart’s at SHR, with Red Bull as the sponsor.” But Evernham yesterday said he “had zero desire to be an owner again.” Red Bull reportedly was “fairly far down the line in negotiations with Clint Bowyer for the No. 4 ride next season,” as it was “one of the few companies that could afford Bowyer” (, 6/20).

WHERE TO NOW? USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan writes a “lack of success … surely influenced Red Bull’s move to leave NASCAR after the 2011 season,” but the company’s “immense success in Formula One might have influenced the decision just as heavily.” Red Bull “gradually has built its F1 program into a juggernaut,” with driver Sebastian Vettel winning the ’10 championship and five of seven races this season. Just Marketing Int’l Founder & CEO Zak Brown said that he “expected Red Bull to reposition its NASCAR funding elsewhere.” One possibility is “through a title sponsorship of the 2012 U.S. Grand Prix scheduled for Austin, a race marking F1’s U.S. return” (USA TODAY, 6/21).

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE: In Toronto, Norris McDonald wrote he has “often wondered about the apparent millions and millions of dollars Red Bull spends on motorsport.” The F1 "A" team’s budget “is undoubtedly over the moon and the ‘B’ team Toro Rosso can’t be far behind.” McDonald: “Two F1 teams? One is crazy; two is -- well, you can use your own word. Throw in a NASCAR team with two cars and sponsorship of hot air balloon races, aerobatic airplane races and so-on and the amount of money being spent on motorsport and the like is simply unimaginable. Something had to give, and the NASCAR team would appear to be it” (, 6/20).

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy has “won a coveted place in line to score a sponsorship portfolio on par with that" of Tiger Woods, according to Paul Tharp of the N.Y. POST. Sources said that McIlroy prior to the victory “had just four sponsors in relatively modest deals totaling around $10 million, with some set to expire in coming months.” He is repped by International Sports Management’s Chubby Chandler, and McIlroy's sponsorship roster includes Titleist, Oakley and watchmaker Audemars Piguet. The hats and shirts he wore in the tournament “advertised Dubai-based hotel chain Jumeirah, whose sponsorship is up for renewal this year.” Engage Marketing President & Chief Solutions Officer Kevin Adler said, "The hat and the shirt each are going to become two of the most valuable pieces of real estate in golf. He's the image sponsors want for the young end of the luxury market. He's the leader of the young guns influencing the game today" (N.Y. POST, 6/21). McIlroy continues to draw praise for his victory, and Horrow Sports Ventures CEO Rick Horrow said the win could be worth “maybe $20-30 million of incremental endorsement revenue by the end of this calendar year.” Horrow: “If he wins one more major, the sky is the limit” (“Bloomberg Bottom Line,” Bloomberg TV, 6/20).

PLACING THE CALL: In London, Kevin Garside notes Chandler’s phone is "ringing off the hook with blue-chip backers wanting to pin their logos to the McIlroy mast.” But Chandler said, “We don’t need more exposure. He is 22. We don’t want him to get to 25 and be like everybody else. That’s why he does not play too many tournaments. There has never been an urgency to do anything.” Chandler noted there are “two clothing companies who want to take off all the logos and pay more for it." Chandler: "But that has to take place over a period of time. We’ve also batted back a few things recently, to take stock of where we are.” Garside writes McIlroy is “a great figurehead and is going to be popular worldwide.” He has “bonuses written into four of his contracts” (London TELEGRAPH, 6/21). The GUARDIAN’s Lawrence Donegan notes McIlroy caught a 6:15am ET flight on Monday morning from DC to Cape Cod, where he “was taking part in an outing for one of the many companies whose logo is emblazoned on his shirt.” There will be “a couple more corporate outings later in the week,” including a stop today in London “to record an appearance on Red or Black, a television quiz show.” It is scheduled to air later this year (GUARDIAN, 6/21).

THE SUN WILL COME OUT... In L.A., Andrew Khouri reports Oakley was "quick to capitalize" on its sponsorship of McIlroy, putting an image of an "exuberant McIlroy" on its homepage yesterday along with a "note of congratulations." The company also "issued 'a proud salute' in a news release." Marketing experts indicated that McIlroy's win is a "golden opportunity for Oakley ... providing the company a chance to show off and talk about its budding apparel lines, designed for athletes in such activities as mountain biking, surfing and motorsports." Khouri notes Oakley is "hoping that the connection with McIlroy will shine a spotlight on its clothing lines." McIlroy just signed with Oakley in December, and 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing Group VP/Business Development Dany Berghoff said that the benefits Oakley sees from the deal "will depend on McIlroy sustaining his success and how often he plays in the United States" (L.A. TIMES, 6/21). Oakley CEO Colin Baden said, “Everybody knows us as a sunglass company. ... We want to get to be known for what we do in our other categories, specifically golf apparel. And Rory is just an incredible pace car for our company to do that and deliver that message to the world.” CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted McIlroy during Sunday’s final round had the sunglasses “on the back of his head,” and asked if that would “minimize what he can do” for Oakley. Baden: “Our main business is quickly becoming everything but sunglasses and Rory’s new to optics. If you look at the field had the sun been out, you would have half the field wear our product” (“The Call,” CNBC, 6/20). Oakley today runs a full-page ad in USA Today congratulating McIlroy for his victory, while Audemars Piguet has a McIlroy-themed ad running in today's N.Y. Times (THE DAILY).

CHECKING THE SCOREBOARD: According to N-Score data from Nielsen Media/E-Poll, which aims to evaluate potential endorsement effectiveness, McIlroy's score over the last 12 months is just below that of other golfers such as Bubba Watson, Natalie Gulbis and Matt Kuchar, and just above Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter. Looking across all active athletes, McIlroy scores equivalent to Browns RB Peyton Hillis, 76ers F Elton Brand, Red Sox LF Carl Crawford and NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger. The characteristics in which McIlroy scored highest were confident and down-to-earth (THE DAILY).

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is “calling on Niketown to yank a disturbing display from its Newbury Street storefront, which boasts T-shirts emblazoned with pill bottles and sporting the words ‘Get High’ and ‘Dope,’" according to Jessica Heslam of the BOSTON HERALD. Another T-shirt on display reads, “F Gravity.” Menino said, “They are promoting drug use. This is the wrong message for Nike to send.” Heslam reports Menino “wrote a letter to the store -- which he expects to send today -- urging it to take down the display.” In his letter he wrote, “T-shirts that combine ‘Just Do It’ ‘Get High’ with pictures of pill bottles are a more than unfortunate twist on your corporate slogan, and I urge you to remove them.” Nike in a statement said that the company “doesn’t condone the use of banned or illegal substances.” The statement reads, “These T-shirts are part of an action sports campaign, featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expressions for performance at the highest level of their sport, be it surfing, skateboarding or BMX” (BOSTON HERALD, 6/21).

WALK THIS WAY: In Portland, Allan Brettman reports adidas Friday unveiled a pair of "giant sneakers" outside their North American HQs to commemorate the 25th anniversary of rap group Run DMC's song "My Adidas." A "contraption that appears to be a vinyl-spinning phonograph [sits] in front of the shoes with an LP on the turntable" (Portland OREGONIAN, 6/21).

Penguins C Sidney Crosby again led the NHL in jersey sales during the '10-11 regular season despite missing half of the campaign due to a concussion. Crosby has led the NHL in jersey sales since '05-06, his first year in the league. Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin ranks second. Several Blackhawks players capitalized on the team's Stanley Cup win last June to make the list -- C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane ranked third and fourth, respectively, while RW Marian Hossa and LW Patrick Sharp also made the top 20. The top-ranking Bruins player is LW Milan Lucic at No. 14, while no Canucks players broke the top 20 (THE DAILY).

Penguins C Sidney Crosby
Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin
Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews
Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane
Penguins C Evgeni Malkin
Flyers C Mike Richards
Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom
Flyers RW Claude Giroux
Sabres G Ryan Miller
Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury
Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk
Red Wings LW Henrik Zetterberg
Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist
Bruins LW Milan Lucic
Rangers RW Ryan Callahan
Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa
Penguins D Kris Letang
Devils G Martin Brodeur
Blackhawks LW Patrick Sharp
Sharks C Joe Thornton


Bruins G Tim Thomas yesterday “allowed Gillette to trim his facial foliage in exchange for a donation to a charity of his choice,” according to Taryn Luna of the BOSTON GLOBE. Gillette Communications Dir Mike Norton said that the company “will give $25,000 to New England youth sports charities to be named later.” Thomas, the Conn Smythe Award winner and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender, has no product endorsement deals with Gillette. Barber Arthur Mirzakan, after clipping the beard down to stubble, applied “shaving cream to Thomas’s face and pulled out a black and yellow Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, which was specially made for the occasion.” Thomas joins a list of athletes Gillette has shaved for charity. Former Red Sox CF Johnny Damon in May '04 “was cropped for a $25,000 donation to children’s literacy,” while Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis “shaved his goatee with a Gillette razor following the World Series win in November 2007.” Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger after the ‘06 Super Bowl win also was shaved on CBS' “The Late Show" for an unspecified charity payment (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21).

HAIR OR NO HAIR, THAT IS THE QUESTION: In Boston, Brendan Lynch cites a new "study" by the Elias Sports Bureau, and commissioned by Philips Norelco as part of a "tongue-in-cheek campaign," that “finds a trio of Major Leaguers play better baseball when they’re clean shaven.” Red Sox P Jonathan Papelbon endorses Philips Norelco’s SensoTouch 3D in the campaign, and his “first commercial for the company pits him against Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher with the players arguing about whether to use the product dry or in the shower.” As part of the campaign, Elias “conducted a study of the performance of three pro baseball players who have played with and without facial hair" -- Swisher, Damon and Yankees P Freddy Garcia. Philips Norelco Marketing Dir Eric Smith said that the company “chose the players to take advantage of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry” (BOSTON HERALD, 6/21).

Montreal-based apparel company Gildan Activewear has signed a three-year deal to title sponsor the New Mexico Bowl, with an option “to extend the agreement beyond that,” according to Rick Wright of the ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL. Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Gildan sells “T-shirts, sport shirts and fleece as undecorated ‘blanks,’” and also has acquired ownership of “several brands of socks, including the popular Gold Toe.” Gildan additionally is the exclusive licenser in the U.S. for “socks sold with Under Armour and New Balance labels.” Gildan President & CEO Glenn Chamandy said that the company is hoping its sponsorship of the New Mexico Bowl will enhance efforts to “broaden its name recognition.” Chamandy: “We’ve sold over 4 billion garments since we began making them in 1993. The average person could have 30 of our shirts in his drawer but not necessarily know the name.” Gildan’s partnership with the bowl game is the company’s “first venture as a title sponsor, but not its first major marketing effort.” Chamandy said, “We’re growing big by staying small; that’s part of our strategy.” Wright notes a redesigned New Mexico Bowl logo, “reflecting Gildan’s involvement,” was unveiled yesterday. The sixth New Mexico Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 17 between teams from the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences at University Stadium in Albuquerque (ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL, 6/21).

Best Buy kicked off a 12-market promotion around its Sprint Cup race team called “Retailgate” last Sunday, hosting 70 local customers and 30 local employees at Michigan Int’l Speedway for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400. It was the first of 12 hospitality programs it will run this year in support of its sponsorship of Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford. The event began at a local Best Buy store close to the track at 7:00am ET. Customers and employees spent an hour at the store, where they shopped and enjoyed exclusive pricing bundles. Then they were treated to breakfast. Once aboard two buses for the track, they were given a gift bag that includes a fanview scanner, grandstand seats for the race, Best Buy racing hats and $43 in gift cards in honor of the No. 43 Best Buy Ford. The group was able to walk pit road before the race. Afterward they were encouraged to upload pictures or thoughts on the day to Best Buy’s Facebook page, which entered them in a sweepstake to win a tablet. Best Buy Racing Senior Marketing Manager Paul Zindrick said the program allowed Best Buy to bring local customers and employees together and strengthen the connection between them, reinforcing how much the company and its employees value customers. Zindrick added, “Throughout the day, there was a lot of excitement. At the end of the day we had to go back to the store and tear down some of the props we put up and I ran into quite a few customers using their gift cards to shop. That was exactly what we hoped for.” Best Buy plans to do 11 more of the promotions this year in Sonoma, Kentucky, Bristol, Atlanta, Chicago, Dover, Charlotte, Kansas, Texas, Phoenix and Miami. The promotion was developed by Best Buy and GMR Marketing.

RBC and The Heritage officials yesterday said that RBC's "sale of its U.S. retail banking operations will not affect" its title sponsorship of the PGA Tour event. Heritage Classic Foundation Chair Simon Fraser said that the "purchase by PNC Financial Services Group Inc. does not include RBC's U.S. divisions that will sponsor the Heritage." Fraser: "It's the wealth-management and capital-markets portion of RBC that we work with. Everyone knew they were selling their retail branches when we signed the deal. They've been talking about doing that for quite some time, and will not affect their support of the tournament." The tournament will be called the RBC Heritage (Hilton Head ISLAND PACKET, 6/21). Meanwhile, the RBC Center in Raleigh is expected to take on the PNC name some point next year.
SPANISH ACQUISITION: Target Center Dir of Retail Jim Bastyr yesterday said that the T'Wolves' recent signing of G Ricky Rubio, the team's draft pick in '09, is "expected to make the No. 9 jersey Rubio will wear the most anticipated seller in the Wolves' 22-year history." Bastyr said, "I expect huge numbers. But I expect Kevin (Love) will still be No. 1 for a while." The T'Wolves "have ordered about 1,000 No. 9 Rubio jerseys, some of which are expected to be available for Thursday's NBA draft party at Target Center, which Rubio will attend" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/21).

PREVENT DEFENSE: MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds reports LOCOG will launch a "major campaign to inform brands how it will clamp down on ambush marketing in the build-up" to the '12 Games. LOCOG will "begin the activity in September, in a drive to avoid a repeat of the guerrilla marketing tactics seen at the last FIFA World Cup." Sources said that the campaign is "likely to run across print, online, direct and outdoor." Reynolds notes "central to the campaign will be educating stakeholders and the wider business community on the new rules on ambush marketing, which will soon become law" (, 6/21).

ALL EYES ON ME: has signed a deal with tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands to be the brand's "first female spokesperson." Mattek-Sands "switched from sunglasses to eye black at the Australian Open earlier this year." The brand "now plans to use Mattek-Sands on retail packaging" (, 6/20). The move comes after EyeBlack yesterday formally announced that it has reached an agreement with MLB Properties to serve as an officially licensed manufacturer of products bearing the marks of all 30 MLB teams, as well as the official MLB logo (THE DAILY).