Crown Royal Senior Brand Manager Heather Boyd said that it was “still possible the company could play a bigger role than expected” in NASCAR next season, and becoming title sponsor of the Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 “will achieve part of the company's goal,” according to Michael Marot of the AP. Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials Wednesday signed a deal making Crown Royal the title sponsor of the Brickyard 400 beginning next year. The race will be renamed the Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Goes Here" 400 at the Brickyard, and the company “plans to hold a contest to select the fan's name that will be incorporated into the title, as it did previously” at Richmond Int’l Raceway (RIR). The company sponsored the Cup race at RIR the last six years. Boyd said, "We'll continue to look for ways to partner with Richmond as we move forward, but at this time, we're focusing on the Brickyard." The company last month said that “it would drop its sponsorship of Roush Fenway Racing after this season, and parent company Diageo said it would not renew its deal as an official NASCAR partner.” Diageo North American Whisky VP Yvonne Briese in a statement said, “This partnership gives us the chance to take our national program to the next level at one of the most historic venues in motorsports” (AP, 7/28). Boyd said that the company “had 17,000 people vote in the naming rights contest” last year. Boyd: “As we looked at opportunities, the stage here is something that we feel that is so special and so powerful with its history and with the iconicness of the track -- that with the combination of being able to elevate the awareness of what we’re trying to do with honor heroes is something that will be beneficial for both parties” (SCENEDAILY.com, 7/28). RIR President Dennis Bickmeier in a statement said that he is “confident the track can find another race sponsor” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 7/29).
THE NAME GAME: IMS President & CEO Jeff Belskus indicated that he did not think that next year’s race name would be too long. Belskus: “We worked with Crown Royal on that and I’m comfortable with what we’ve got” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/29).
Edmonton-based juice and smoothie company Booster Juice signed Blue Jays RF/3B Jose Bautista to his first-ever Canadian endorsement deal as the company’s new ambassador beginning next month. Bautista will become the face of Booster Juice throughout Canada and other international markets throughout the next year. The company is developing 15- and 30-second TV spots featuring Bautista that will run in stores equipped with video, while a national billboard campaign will launch in August. Additionally, in-store displays will be created including life-sized Bautista cut-outs in all 265 Booster Juice stores across Canada (Booster Juice). MARKETING magazine’s Chris Powell noted Booster Juice’s in-house creative team “is still working on the creative for the billboard campaign.” Booster Juice President & CEO Dale Wishewan said that the TV spots supporting the four-year deal “will likely aim to establish a link between Bautista hitting prodigious home runs and drinking Booster Juice products.” Booster Juice is in the last year of a two-year sponsorship with the Blue Jays, and Wishewan said that he met with team officials Thursday "to talk about extending the agreement another three years” (MARKETINGMAG.ca, 7/28).
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG? SPORTSNET.ca's Michael Grange reported Booster Juice is the "first of what his management team expect will be a number of national endorsement deals." The Blue Jays "haven't had a player appear in a national campaign since the glory days of the '90s" when recent HOF inductee Roberto Alomar was endorsing McCain Foods. Bautista, who recently signed a deal with New Balance, said of the Booster Juice agreement, "This is my first endorsement deal outside of baseball, so it's something that is going to be a treat. It will be fun to see what we can come up with." However, Grange wondered if a car deal would not have been a "safer first choice." Bautista is leading MLB in home runs with 31 after hitting a league-leading 54 last year, and "baseball's premier post-steroid era slugger endorses Booster Juice, as in: It really is the juice" (SPORTSNET.ca, 7/28).
Boston mutual fund company Putnam Investments is "replacing cross-town rival Fidelity Investments as a key sponsor of Gillette Stadium," according to Todd Wallack of the BOSTON GLOBE. Putnam’s name "will replace Fidelity’s on two three-story luxury clubhouses, each with 3,000 seats." Putnam will also "supplant Fidelity’s name on a parking lot, entrance, and private road for clubhouse ticket holders leading to the Foxborough stadium." The road, currently labeled Fidelity Way, "will be renamed Putnam Parkway." Putnam "didn’t disclose financial details for the partnership with the Patriots." However, as part of the multiyear deal, the Patriots are "renovating and expanding the clubhouses, upgrading the video technology, and opening up the layout with more glass to give spectators a better view of the field." The work is "expected to be finished by the time the regular season begins." Wallack notes the sponsorship is "another move by Putnam to raise its profile, rebuild a brand tarnished several years ago by a market timing scandal, and become a stronger competitor to industry leaders." Since Putnam CEO Robert Reynolds took over in '08, the company "has also struck deals with other sports teams and athletes, including the US Ski Team and professional golfer Keegan Bradley." Fidelity spokesperson Anne Crowley said that Fidelity "doesn’t typically sign naming-rights deals with sports arenas and decided to let the 10-year clubhouse deal expire." But the company "will retain its luxury box at Gillette Stadium" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/29). Reynolds, who was a "finalist for NFL commissioner in 2006," said of the deal with the Patriots, "The game-day branding is enormous. What the Patriots stand for and what the Kraft family has built over the years -- their performance and execution and teamwork -- to be able to co-brand with them is very exciting for us" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/29).
The NFLPA's Department of Labor filings for '09 and '10 "show payments pegged to jersey, memorabilia, video games, football cards and other licensed products plummeted last season for some of the Steelers' best-known players," according to a front-page piece by Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Steelers S Troy Polamalu, QB Ben Roethlisberger, LB James Harrison, and WR Hines Ward saw "some of the sharpest cuts." Of the 11 Steelers "given royalty checks in both years, only tight end Heath Miller and running back Rashard Mendenhall showed royalty gains." However, that was "before Mendenhall posted controversial Twitter messages in May" that led Champion Sports Apparel to end his endorsement deal. NFLPA Dir of Communications Carl Francis said that the decline in royalties "partly stemmed from a sluggish economy." Union filings show Polamalu in '09 received "more than $1 million in royalty earnings from NFL-licensed goods," but his royalties "fell to $139,577" in '10. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger's NFL royalties "toppled more than 70 percent to $153,759 last year," after he was "dogged by two unproven rape accusations and a four-game suspension." That number left him tied with Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman for the "biggest percentage drop ... among the 14 NFL starting quarterbacks with royalties in each of the last two years." Still, Roethlisberger's union royalty earnings in '10 "remained the highest on the team." NFL agent Adisa Bakari and The Marketing Arm Account Dir Darin David "remain split on former Super Bowl MVP Ward's future as a top pitchman." Ward is "coming off a victory on ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' -- and a drunken-driving arrest on July 9 in Georgia." L.A.-based branding expert Rob Frankel said that the Ward dilemma "is why he tells his clients 'to avoid celebrity endorsements at all costs'" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/29).
NO BEATING AROUND THE BUSH: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis writes since revelations came out that newly acquired Dolphins RB Reggie Bush received illegal benefits while in college at USC that forced him to vacate the '05 Heisman Trophy, Bush's Davie Brown Index score dropped in several key categories. Bush in '07 was rated "as popular as Angelina Jolie and as trusted as Pat Riley." However, his endorsement score "has fallen into the neighborhood of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville and Snoop Dogg," and his consumer appeal "now ranks about 2,500 out of 2,800 celebrities, comparable to Brett Favre and John Daly." David said, "It's kind of a drastic decline in those areas. He hasn't had as much damage done as some athletes, but it's been enough to cause brands to pause when they consider him." Meanwhile, Bush's awareness rating, which was "driven by notoriety attached to the USC scandal" as well as his highly publicized relationship with Kim Kardashian, "has soared until he is about as well known as Jerry Rice, George Strait and Deion Sanders" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/29).
Italian sportswear brand Tacchini is "planning a big push" around No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic, including a line of Djokovic-branded casual sportswear, and window displays and advertisements in the more than 100 Tacchini stores worldwide," according to Sam Mamudi of MARKETWATCH. Djokovic has a "rich tennis history, having sponsored many of the sport's legends, including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and a young Pete Sampras," but Djokovic is the only player currently endorsing the brand. The company signed Djokovic to a 10-year deal in November '09 when he was ranked fourth, and company Sports Marketing Manager Edoardo Artaldi said, "We felt Novak had the potential to reach the top." Leverage Agency Founder & CEO Ben Sturner said Tacchini's "gamble with Djokovic paid off." Sturner: "A company that size has to be creative. They can't afford to sign 10 to 15 top players; they need to focus on one or two." Mamudi noted Djokovic's Serbian nationality "means his base of support isn't naturally as broad" as Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray. That "may have been what pushed adidas to go with Murray" rather than Djokovic. Artaldi said that adidas "had a choice between Murray and Djokovic and picked the Scotsman." Artaldi "wouldn't say how much Tacchini pays Djokovic." But he said that, "as well as incentive bonuses linked to tournament wins and end-of-year rankings, the player receives a share of all Tacchini revenue from sales in China, and worldwide revenue from Djokovic-branded Tacchini products." Artaldi added that the company's sales "have risen along with Djokovic's success," though he did not provide details (MARKETWATCH.com, 7/27).
Oklahoma State Univ. Thursday unveiled its new Nike football uniforms for the '11 season. For each home game, OSU has its choice of colors for jerseys, helmets and pants. The choices for the helmet include white, matte black and anthracite. The jersey choices include orange, black and gray, while the pants choices are orange, black, gray and white. OSU all told has 48 different combinations for its uniforms (OSU). In Oklahoma City, John Helsley notes the various combinations are "part of a major wardrobe makeover for the Cowboys, who are getting the 'Oregon' treatment in outfitting the football team." Nike's new designs "will be featured at OSU, Arizona State, Washington State, Kentucky, TCU and Wyoming" this season. OSU QB Brandon Weeden said, "We had our old uniforms for five or six years. It's 2011, you've got to change it up every once in a while" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/29). Some of the "big changes to the uniforms can be seen on the pants." The new look "has a two-stripe theme running down the pant legs," and there is a logo of OSU mascot Pistol Pete "on the hip of the pants" (STILLWATER NEWSPRESS, 7/29). When asked why the school made such an "ambitious change," OSU AD Mike Holder said that is "all about the kids." Holder: "It's a game and it should be fun. And anything to make it more fun and exciting for the players, I view that as a positive" (NEWSOK.com, 7/28).
SUCCESSFUL MAKEOVER: ESPN.com's David Ubben wrote of the new jerseys, "I love them. ... It's a great look, and honestly, I love every combination. The black on black might be my favorite, but I love the new gray tops, too. Nobody else in the Big 12 has any gray uniforms, and it should help OSU stand out on the field" (ESPN.com, 7/28). CBSSPORTS.com's Tom Fornelli wrote, "I don't hate them at all. Whenever Nike is getting its hands on some uniforms and redesigning them I generally expect the worst, but these aren't bad at all" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/28).
A U.S. District Court this week judge dismissed a case brought against NASCAR by one of its sponsors, Advanced Fluid Solutions. The Texas-based fluid additive company sued NASCAR for allegedly terminating its sponsorship contract illegally. The company was due to pay NASCAR $6.2M in sponsorship fees, and NASCAR terminated the deal after Advanced Fluids failed to pay the first $500,000 installment. Because the company had not made its payment, the judge ruled it was not entitled to see NASCAR fulfill the sponsorship agreement. In a statement, NASCAR Senior VP & CMO Steve Phelps said, “We’re very pleased that the U.S. District Court in Orlando dismissed this suit, as it was filed solely to prompt a settlement out of NASCAR. We have made it clear over the past several years that we will do what’s necessary to protect our partnerships, including fight in court, when presented with cases that are without merit. That was the situation here, as the court recognized an obvious breach of contract situation.”
EA Sports Friday announced a lineup of 13 international soccer stars that will help launch its "FIFA Soccer 12" video game on Sept. 27 in North America and Sept. 30 worldwide. The players will appear on game packaging, will be integrated into marketing and advertising campaigns, and will be utilized in social media activities. Manchester United F Wayne Rooney for the first time will appear on the cover of the game in North America. He will be joined on the cover by two additional players, with other stars to appear on covers in other countries (EA Sports).
Manchester United F Wayne Rooney
Real Madrid MF Kaká
Arsenal MF Jack Wilshere
AC Milan D Philippe Mexès
Real Madrid F Karim Benzema
Inter Milan F Giampaolo Pazzini
FC Barcelona D Gerard Piqué
Real Madrid MF Xabi Alonso
Dortmund D Mats Hummels
Everton MF Tim Cahill
FC Basel MF Valentin Stocker
CSKA Moscow D Vasili Berezutski
Anzhi Makhachkala MF Balázs Dzsudzsák
STRIKING A DEAL: MLS Red Bulls F Thierry Henry has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Puma, which becomes his performance and lifestyle footwear and apparel sponsor both on and off the pitch. Henry will take part in a wide variety of Puma consumer and trade programs. The first in-game activation of the partnership occurred Wednesday, when Henry made his worldwide debut in Puma cleats during the MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United (Puma).
UNDERNEATH IT ALL: MARKETING magazine's Oliver Luft reports MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham has partnered with retailer H&M to "sell his long-awaited underwear range in its shops." Beckham's Bodywear range "will be sold exclusively through H&M's 1,800 shops in around 40 countries worldwide." H&M will launch the line on Valentine's Day (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 7/28).
TAKING THE XTEP: Spanish La Liga club Villarreal has inked a five-year, $6.4M deal with Xtep Holdings, making the company the official technical sponsor and exclusive provider of sportswear and accessories for the team. Xtep's logo will adorn the club's jerseys as part of the agreement (Xtep).