Crown Royal is "ready to sign a deal to become the title sponsor" of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Diageo brand and IMS President & CEO Jeff Belskus could "make an announcement" at this year's race on July 31. The deal, rumored to be a multiyear partnership starting in '12, is "bigger than the Allstate title sponsorship deal for the race, which was one of the bigger title deals in NASCAR" before it ended in '09. Sources indicated that the new Crown sponsorship is expected to be worth around $1.5M annually, which would be "financially bigger than any other current NASCAR title sponsorship deal." Schoettle noted Crown's reported title sponsorship of the race comes after the brand appeared to be "preparing to exit NASCAR." Last month, Crown announced that it "would no longer sponsor Matt Kenseth’s car at Roush Fenway Racing after this season" (IBJ.com, 7/12). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports an announcement of the title sponsorship "could come later this week." The official name of the event, "which includes two Grand-Am sports car races and the Nationwide Series race to go with the traditional Sprint Cup race, has not been finalized" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/13).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Molson Coors and the NHL “won a major court ruling Tuesday but the fate” of their $375M North American sponsorship agreement “is still up in the air after archrival Labatt vowed to press on with its legal case,” according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. The Court of Appeal for Ontario “rejected a lower court ruling that had tossed out the Molson Coors deal, but allowed Labatt to start its case again from scratch.” Labatt VP/Corporate Affairs Charlie Angelakos said, “Based on the merits of the case we will aggressively pursue all legal remedies available to us.” Marketing consultant and former Labatt VP/Marketing David Kincaid said that “uncertainty caused by Labatt’s decision to refile will hurt broadcasters and other NHL partners.” The Molson Coors sponsorship deal “includes $100 million in guaranteed advertising buys.” Ontario Superior Court Judge Frank Neubold in June “rejected the Molson Coors deal for North American rights, ruling that the league had already sold Canadian rights to Labatt.” The Court of Appeal yesterday “tossed out Neubold’s ruling because it was based on an argument that wasn’t even used -- that Labatt had a legally binding sponsorship agreement.” Labatt had “suggested to Neubold only that they’d agreed to ‘terms of renewal,’ in essence the broad outline of a deal.” The NHL-Molson Coors agreement reportedly included “roughly $100 million in rights fees, $100 million in guaranteed advertising buys, and $100 million in ‘activation’ money for promotions.” By comparison, the Labatt deal was for $36M over three years. Morningstar beverage analyst Philip Gorham said that one reason for the “vast discrepancy is that Molson Coors was on the verge of getting all but shut out of the NHL.” Anheuser-Busch InBev already “holds sponsorship rights to 24 of 30 NHL teams” (TORONTO STAR, 7/13).
MOVING FORWARD: The GLOBE & MAIL's Houpt & Shoalts note Molson Coors “intends to use the sponsorship rights to cement its brand with drinkers on social media and through special NHL events like the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup playoffs.” Molson Coors Canada Dir of External Communications Adam Moffat said, “We’ll move beyond rink boards and ad placements, curating experiences for beer drinkers and hockey fans.” Labatt indicated that yesterday’s loss in court “was not as bad as it might seem, announcing that it had signed sponsorship deals" with three individual Canadian teams: the Canucks, Flames and Jets. Labatt spokesperson Bob Stellick: “People cheer for leagues a lot less than they cheer for teams” (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/13).
Eagles QB Michael Vick is "on the verge of signing his biggest endorsement deal since he restarted his NFL career after his incarceration, negotiating with MusclePharm" on a possible three-year, $1.55M deal, according to a source cited by Jason La Canfora of NFL.com. A source indicated that a "deal has been agreed to" with MusclePharm, which makes supplements and workout-related products. MusclePharm Dir of Team Development Joseph Lawanson said that the company "is still considering its options but confirmed that Vick is definitely under consideration." La Canfora reported Vick's deal "would be for two years guaranteed, with an option for a third year and would include substantial bonuses" based on personal and team performance. Vick would have a "social media responsibility with the company and the ease to which he works with MusclePharm executives would help determine whether the third year is picked up." Vick would receive $100,000 in MusclePharm stock per year, and base compensation would be $200,000 in the first two years and $250,000 in the third (NFL.com, 7/12). The MusclePharm deal comes shortly after Vick re-signed with Nike. In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tamari notes after "rehabilitating his image last season, Vick gained some local endorsement deals, but only recently returned to a larger stage in terms of company size and financial terms" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/13).
MLB Properties and Chevrolet have formally announced a five-year extension of their sponsorship deal, under which the GM brand maintains category exclusivity. Chevy will retain its designation as MLB's official vehicle, which it has held since '05. The agreement also keeps Chevy as the presenting sponsor of the Roberto Clemente Award, Ted Williams All-Star Game MVP Award and World Series MVP Award. Chevrolet will continue to serve as the presenting sponsor of the All-Star Red Carpet Show. The extension was first reported last month by SportsBusiness Journal (THE DAILY). Please see our MLB Spons-o-Meter for a full list of the league's corporate partners.
SAFETY FIRST: The GLOBE & MAIL's James Mirtle reports Chevrolet will provide a "free helmet to every five-year-old hockey player in Canada" in an effort to help prevent concussions. Chevy announced yesterday that it will partner with Bauer and Hockey Canada on the initiative for players "registered for the 2011-12 season." GM Canada Corporate Communications Manager Jason Easton said that the company "wanted to expand its Safe and Fun Hockey program and felt protecting the heads of new players was a good way to start." Mirtle notes the Bank of Nova Scotia and Reebok Int'l earlier this year partnered with non-profit organization ThinkFirst, which is "dedicated to the prevention of brain and spinal-cord injuries, to produce a video advising young players how to prevent concussions and head trauma on the ice" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/13).
T'Wolves F Anthony Tolliver recently formed a partnership with former NBA D-League Idaho Stampede teammate Lanny Smith to start Active Faith, "a Christian-based apparel company," according to J. Michael Falgoust of USA TODAY. Smith and Tolliver "have used word-of-mouth advertising to get support from NBA players," and Bulls Gs Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson and Warriors G Stephen Curry "have worn Active Faith wristbands." Smith: "It's definitely a movement. It's starting to pick up with the football guys." In addition, there is "interest in the apparel line from private Christian schools." Falgoust notes Tolliver also "owns properties in his hometown of Springfield, Mo., and Richmond, Calif., through his company, Say You Can." He said, "After I'm done with basketball, I'm going straight into entrepreneurship" (USA TODAY, 7/13).
The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Georg Szalai cited a ZenithOptimedia forecast that predicted U.S. advertising spending on cable networks will “for the first time trump spending on broadcast networks this year.” The company estimates that U.S. broadcast network ad spending “will be flat at $17.4 billion this year, down from a previous expectation of 3 percent growth, while cable networks spending will rise to nearly $18.0 billion, up about 10 percent from $16.3 billion in 2010.” Zenith expects broadcast spending next year to drop 1% to $17.2B “despite the return of the Olympics to NBC amid a projected increase in online and cable viewing for the games in London, compared with an estimated 9 percent gain to $19.6 billion for cable” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/12).
BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER? Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee discussed agent Mark Steinberg, who reps Tiger Woods, joining Excel Sports Management and said, “It is an important business decision going forward for Tiger Woods to look for places where he can change the way he’s perceived as, not only as an athlete, but a personality. He needs to align himself with certainly elite athletes, but squeaky clean athletes.” Excel represents Yankees SS Derek Jeter, Phillies 1B Ryan Howard and Clippers F Blake Griffin, among others, and they “have very positive images.” Chamblee: “Tiger Woods, should he come back, will make more money than he's made before, not just for himself, but any business he’s aligned with and any ancillary businesses that are with him“ (Golf Channel, 7/11).
EXPANDING THE PRODUCT LINE: In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow notes Under Armour is “beginning to make a push into the equipment business, seeking to tighten its grip on certain sports where it already has a sizeable market share.” Under Armour views equipment “as an opportunity to put more of its products into the hands of athletes who wear the company’s clothing during competition.” The company “recently debuted a $79.99 leather football, and this November a $59.99 basketball will hit shelves.” The company also is “rolling out its first line of lacrosse stick heads, handles, gloves, arm and shoulder pads and goggles.” Under Armour executives said that they “aren’t rushing to roll out new equipment lines, rather opting to be patient for when the right opportunities arise.” But Sharrow writes, “It does represent a large opportunity” (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/8 issue).
DELIVERING SECURITY: In Memphis, Marlon Morgan reports FedEx has renewed its presenting sponsorship of the Southern Heritage Classic, the “annual football game between Jackson State and Tennessee State,” through '14. Game Founder Fred Jones said, "It's just invaluable to us. It's been something that the kind of presence FedEx has here locally, and nationally, internationally, it gives us a presence that you can't measure and that's the most important thing.” Morgan reports Allstate Insurance also has “renewed its deal as a corporate partner” through ’14 (Memphis COMMERICAL APPEAL, 7/13).