Roush Fenway Racing announced this morning that it has re-signed driver Carl Edwards to a multiyear contract, starting next season. Edwards joined RFR in '03 and drove in the Camping World Truck Series before running a Sprint Cup Series schedule the next season. He currently sits atop the Cup Series point standings (RFR). FOXSPORTS.com's Lee Spencer, who first reported the deal, notes after a "bidding war between Roush and Joe Gibbs Racing for Edwards' services in which financial incentives were fairly equal among the two operations, it is clear the ultimate decision was not about the money." Edwards' decision to stay with RFR and Ford "will pay off in more than just monetary dividends." While this "latest round of negotiations dragged on well beyond a comfortable time for shoring up 2012 sponsorships (most deals are finalized by July 1), team owner Jack Roush has never wavered from his admiration of Edwards." Edwards' brand "has been used to promote NASCAR and Ford Motor Company on a level reserved for A-list athletes similar to the path forged by Jeff Gordon into mainstream America." Spencer writes it is "not surprising Ford put on a full-court press to retain their top star." Ford and Ford Racing officials "expounded on the company's rich heritage in motorsports and the loyalty showered on its teams" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/4). The AP's Jenna Fryer notes it is "unlikely that the engines played any role in Edwards' decision," but Ford gave his a promise of "unprecedented incentives if he stayed" (AP, 8/4). ESPN's Marty Smith on Twitter reported, "Carl Edwards staying at Roush b/c he's the face of Ford Motor. The Ford offer provided the pendulum swing. He was gone to Gibbs 10 days ago" (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
BIG BOOST FOR RFR: SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass reports Edwards "likely will have funding from current primary sponsor Aflac as well as another major sponsor" by staying in RFR's No. 99 car. Retaining Edwards is "huge" for RFR, as the team has "three drivers -- Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan -- under contract for next year but only one sponsorship, with 3M aligned with Biffle." Re-signing Edwards "should help boost the team's profile with potential sponsors for Kenseth and Ragan" (SCENEDAILY.com, 8/4). Turner Sports Senior Marketing Manager Greg Mize wrote on Twitter, "Losing Carl Edwards would have been big hit for #Fenway Sports Group; they like big-name brands (Sox, Liverpool, etc.)" (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
WHO'S NEXT? Edwards had been considered the top free agent in NASCAR, and ESPN.com's David Newton reports it now appears the sport's "other top free agents were likely to stay put as well." Team Owner Richard Childress has indicated that Clint Bowyer "is in the final stages of working out a deal at RCR, pending sponsorship." Juan Pablo Montoya last weekend said that he is "working on a new deal with Chip Ganassi Racing" (ESPN.com, 8/4). Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick said that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s contract extension with the team will “be signed within the next 30 days.” Hendrick: “It will be a multiyear deal. We haven’t been in a hurry because we both have taken it for granted that we’re doing it. It’s almost a foregone conclusion. We’ve been busy and there are a lot of contracts with sponsors” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/4).
California-based biotech company Amgen will continue its title sponsorship of the Tour of California bicycle race for two more years. Two independent sources with knowledge of the race confirmed the deal, which is believed to be valued in the mid-seven-figure range. The eight-day race began in '06 and is owned and operated by AEG Sports. It has grown into the largest professional bicycle race in the U.S. and each year attracts riders and teams that compete in the top events in Europe. Sources valued the race’s operating cost in the $12M range. Amgen used the race to launch its Breakaway From Cancer initiative in '08. Amgen signed an initial three-year deal with the race in '06 and signed a three-year extension in '08. That deal came to an end on May 22 at the completion of the '11 race.
IMG Managing Dir, Senior VP & Head of Global Consulting David Abrutyn confirmed that Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin "won't be renewing his endorsement deal with equipment manufacturer CCM, which expires at the end of the month," according to Tarik El-Bashir of the WASHINGTON POST. Ovechkin "won't be sporting Reebok ZigTech sneakers anymore, either." It has been "well documented over the years that Ovechkin wasn't always happy with the sticks CCM has provided for his use." In recent seasons he was seen "occasionally experimenting with sticks from other manufacturers, and sometimes attempting to hide the fact by spray painting over the logo." Meanwhile, Abrutyn confirmed that Ovechkin is "now endorsing Canadian candy bar Mr. Big." Abrutyn said, "Alex is going to be the face of Mr. Big in Canada and will be a part of a large promotion this fall." El-Bashir reported Ovechkin traveled from Moscow to Toronto last month "for a photoshoot and the filming of a commercial to support the promotion." He now appears "on a candy bar wrapper" for Mr. Big (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/3).
The Idaho Potato Commission has signed a six-year deal to title sponsor the annual college football bowl game in Boise, now called the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The deal, renaming the former Humanitarian Bowl, begins immediately and runs through the '16 game. As part of the agreement, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will be featured in national and regional marketing campaigns conducted by the IPC. The '11 game will be played Dec. 17 (THE DAILY). In Boise, Chadd Cripe notes the bowl "had three years left on its title sponsorship with uDrove," but Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Exec Dir Kevin McDonald said that the company "agreed to step aside and will remain a sponsor at a lesser level." McDonald visited the IPC "earlier this year to try to sell a sponsorship but didn’t expect to find a new title sponsor." The bowl and commission "didn’t have a previous relationship." The IPC's newest ad campaign, "featuring fitness expert Denise Austin, will debut on ESPN during the Boise State-Georgia broadcast Sept. 3." Cripe notes the new title sponsorship "provides an obvious tie to the state, which was lacking in all of the bowl’s previous names since 1997" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/4). The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl marks the "fifth name change of the bowl, but it is only the second time since the bowl’s inception in 1997 that the bowl game will not use the Humanitarian Bowl name." Still, McDonald said that the game "will continue its tradition of hosting a Humanitarian Awards dinner during the week of the game" (IDAHO PRESS-TRIBUNE, 8/4).
WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT? YAHOO SPORTS' Graham Watson wrote, "The best part about the bowl, other than its name of course, is the logo -- a football, split open like a loaded baked potato completed with chives. Not sure anything could be more genius than that" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/3). CBSSPORTS.com's Adam Jacobi wrote the logo "really sets this bowl reboot on a high level." Jacobi: "They made the football a baked potato, then put chives on it. ... It would stand to reason, then, that there's a slightly crazy mascot that'll be at the game too. Probably an anthropomorphic potato with crazy eyes and limbs sticking out, and probably a funny hat" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/3). The bowl's new name and logo also fueled some commentary on Twitter. IMG Dir of Licensing Cameron Wright wrote, "Thrilled to begin the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl era. Reminds me of the legendary California Raisin Bowl. ... We need more bowl games named after starchy vegetables and less named after obscure county credit unions." CBS Sports' Patrick Southern: "I'm confused. Is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl a college football game or a new menu item at KFC?" SI's Andy Staples: "Forget that evil playoff. I'm so glad we can reward the student-athletes for all their hard work by sending them to the Potato Bowl." The L.A. Times' Chris Dufresene joked, "I envision huge problems/injuries for teams clinching bid to Potato bowl. throwing tostitos or roses one thing...." Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel: "The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl? Sometimes 'Death to the BCS' just writes itself."
Octagon will manage A-B InBev’s agreement with the FA to become the lead sponsor for the FA Cup. Budweiser has been an Octagon client since ’09 when the marketing firm won strategy and activation work around the ’10 FIFA World Cup. Octagon VP Tim Collins said as a result of that partnership, the company “was well-placed to identify other global properties that would suit Budweiser, which led to introductions with the FA.” Collins added Octagon Senior VP/Football Phil Carling’s strong relationship with the FA -- he served as the organization’s Commercial Director -- has helped the agency secure several partnerships with the FA for clients including Nivea for Men and Mars. Budweiser and the FA in June announced Budweiser would replace E.ON as title sponsor of the tournament. The deal reportedly will cover three years, and is worth approximately $12.9M annually. The partnership also marks the first U.S. sponsor for the FA Cup. The FA Cup is broadcast to over 180 countries, providing Budweiser with a global audience for its brand. For its part, Budweiser will be supporting the competition on a global basis and raising awareness of the FA Cup and the brand in key territories. Budweiser Global VP Jason Warner said the brand’s “Man of the Match” marketing platform will make its FA Cup debut, providing fans the opportunity to vote for the official “Man of the Match.” Budweiser used that platform during last year’s World Cup, and Collins said the program was extremely successful “from the voting process that allowed all fans to vote, to the presentation itself where consumers were able to meet their heroes.” Collins said Budweiser aims to “bring fans closer to the game, and the Man of the Match initiative is an excellent example of bringing that to life.”
LOOKING TOWARD CHINA: Octagon also announced it will serve as the official marketing partner for the China LPGA Tour. Octagon Managing Dir of Golf and Outdoor Events Chris Higgs will coordinate strategy while Octagon Global Events Senior Dir of Business Operations for Asia Jung Jee will lead the development and sales effort under the multiyear agreement. Higgs noted that women’s professional golf in China is in its infancy and in approaching the CLPGA partnership, Octagon plans to “build for the players a platform and a foundation that will allow them to grow organically at a managed pace, but then also take advantage of accelerated growth if it comes.” Higgs believes corporate sponsorship interest in the CLPGA will rise in the wake of golf’s addition to the ’16 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Bucks G and Under Armour endorser Brandon Jennings is not only using the NBA lockout to "work out at the athletic apparel company's headquarters this summer, he's also working in Under Armour's footwear department" as part of an internship, according to Marc Spears of YAHOO SPORTS. Beginning last month, Jennings "has reported to the office for meetings with the company's basketball and jogging shoe developers," and "one of his ideas -- styled after the bumper of a Bugatti luxury car -- is already being implemented for a jogging shoe." Under Armour Creative Dir for Footwear Dave Dombrow said, "Forget about him being an NBA player for a second. He's a kid that's 21 that has a stylish point of view. We want to take that stylish point of view and put it on product." Spears reported the internship is "supposed to end at the start of September, but that could change if the NBA is still in a lockout." UA "has more than 250 endorsers," so it is "not unusual for employees at the company's headquarters to see an athlete walking through the halls." But Jennings "is different," as he is "in the building daily, eats lunch in the cafeteria and has a posh office that includes laptop and desktop computers." UA execs "initially considered giving their new intern a more modest cubicle, but the rest of the footwear department was having trouble getting work done with Jennings around" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/3). SHARING THE WEALTH: In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow reported Under Armour President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank has sold 143,100 shares of the company "valued at nearly" $10.4M. An SEC filing indicated that Plank "sold the shares between July 29 and Aug. 2 at prices ranging from $71.51 to $75.35." Plank "has been shedding shares of the Baltimore-based company for the past six months." His moves are "part of a pre-arranged stock plan he entered into in November to divest of up to 1.125 million shares of the company's Class B stock he owns over a 10-month period beginning this month." Sharrow noted the shares "make up about a tenth of Plank's stock in the company" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/3).
GOLFWEEK’s Forecaddie reports golfer Michelle Wie on Sept. 6 “will film a new McDonald’s Monopoly commercial” with Heat F LeBron James. Wie “also has a Kia shoot coming in the next month” (GOLFWEEK, 8/5 issue).
WHAT A GIRL WANTS: ESPN N.Y.’s Sam Alipour noted Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire and designer Rachel Roy last week unveiled their collaboration on a women’s clothing line “to members of the fashion media.” The line “features Stoudemire’s daytime gig as a motif, with the Knicks logo, his jersey number and Star of David tattoo adorning many of the pieces.” It “hits Macy’s stores in the fall” and will retail at $50-235. Stoudemire: “There’s a lot of work that went into this -- almost a year’s worth. But women are very conscientious about what they wear.” He will “next get to work on his own line” (ESPNNY.com, 8/2).
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR…: In Ft. Worth, Shlachter, Nishimura & Baker note Nocona Boot Company Brand Manager Monte Nelson “came up with an idea for college-logo boots.” He started the boot line in '09 with TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and last year “added 15” more universities. This year he has “added 12 and plans a dozen more by the end of 2011.” Nelson said that Texas, Texas A&M and Kentucky are among “the most popular” and have been “jockeying for No. 1 this year.” The boots retail for “about $200 per pair” and are sold at collegeboots.com (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/4).
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