NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer is "seriously considering offers from one or more Sprint Cup teams to leave Richard Childress Racing -- his home since making his series debut in 2005 -- following the 2011 season," according to Tim Tuttle of SI.com. Bowyer "talked openly of his desire to remain at RCR earlier this season, but negotiations have dragged and, according to multiple sources, deteriorated." Discussions between Bowyer and team owner Richard Childress "have been complicated by the lack of a primary sponsor for the No. 33 Chevrolet." For the past three seasons, General Mills brands Cheerios and Hamburger Helper have been that sponsor. Childress "had expressed confidence that General Mills would return a month ago, but it's now believed the company is looking at other options." With Carl Edwards "off the market, Bowyer is the top free agent available." In addition to RCR, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing "are said to be interested in hiring Bowyer." RPM COO Robbie Loomis "has been diligently working to put together a package for Bowyer that includes a Ford-backed deal similar to the Wood Brothers." MWR also "would like to expand to three cars and may have some support from Toyota to acquire Bowyer." JGR President J.D. Gibbs has said a fourth car for his team is a "long shot." Tuttle noted Childress "should not be counted out" because he "has shown the ability to be resourceful in retaining drivers and finding sponsors" (SI.com, 8/17).
DIRVING AWAY: ESPN's Marty Smith reported Danica Patrick will race full-time in the Nationwide Series next year in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevy for JR Motorsports. An announcement is expected to come next week “in Phoenix, Arizona, which is where her sponsor -- GoDaddy.com -- is based.” Smith: "She’s a huge brand. Her brand transcends auto racing. She’s a huge, bona fide A-list star in this country, so it brings more eyes to the sport. It also really brings more of the female demographic to the sport” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 8/17). ESPN.com's Terry Blount reported Izod IndyCar Series officials have known Danica Patrick is leaving for NASCAR after this season "since early May." She will move to the Sprint Cup Series full time in '13 "when she drives for Stewart-Haas Racing." Patrick "will race a few Cup events next season for SHR but will maintain her rookie status in Cup for 2013." And "don't be shocked if she attempts to qualify for the 2012 Daytona 500." Blount: "Imagine the buzz surrounding the Daytona 500 next year if Patrick is in the field." In the end, NASCAR "comes out a winner whether she succeeds or fails." She will be the "biggest celebrity and best marketing machine to come NASCAR's way in a long time -- maybe ever" (ESPN.com, 8/17).
adidas AG Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer this week emphasized that the U.S. market "will be essential to continuing to grow the Adidas brand," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. During a two-day visit to adidas' North American HQs in Oregon this week, Hainer said, "Everywhere in the world, we are as big or even bigger than Nike -- besides the U.S. This is where the difference is and this is by the far the biggest sporting market." He said that adidas' role as "supplier of MLS uniforms ... has reaped benefits for the company." Hainer: "Football is the biggest sport in the world. By far bigger than baseball, than American football, than basketball. Therefore, it is quite important for us to have a link with the MLS." Brettman notes with the NBA lockout "likely to consume at least a portion of the league's schedule this year, Hainer acknowledged Adidas has a special interest in seeing the conflict resolved as the company is the official supplier of uniforms." He said, "But of course, it is out of our influence. As a sponsor, we would like to see the season start on a regular basis. If that is not the case, we will drive our basketball business anyway." Brettman notes this NFL season is the last that Reebok, an adidas subsidiary, "will serve as official uniform supplier" before Nike assumes that contract. Hainer said that adidas "was happy to see that league's lockout end and that 'we are producing day and night to deliver' team uniforms and licensed merchandise for fans." He acknowledged that the company, after holding the NFL apparel license for 10 years, "was in discussions with the league to continue in that role." Hainer: "Of course we had some interest, but everything has a price and then you have to make a business decision" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/18).
ADIDAS TO OPERATE NBA STORE: The NBA this fall is set to open a new 6,000-square-foot temporary store at 590 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan, between 47th and 48th streets. The store is located four blocks from the previous NBA Store on Fifth Ave., which was shuttered in February after operating since '98. The new temporary store will be run under a partnership with adidas, which will operate the temporary store and a forthcoming permanent NBA Store. The deal with adidas also calls for the company to assume expenses associated with the temporary and permanent retail store (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal).
The CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders have the "third highest merchandise sales of all Canadian sports teams, behind only" the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, and the Roughriders last year made C$10M "in merchandise alone, the most in Canadian Football League history," according to Wendy Gillis of the TORONTO STAR. Much of the team's "off-field success -- along with three recent trips to the Grey Cup final -- comes from being the only professional game in a province that's become increasingly wealthier in recent years." The "unprecedented success can also be attributed to a significant expansion in products, thanks to having dozens of licensees." Fans can purchase "Rider-themed light-switch covers, ceramic chip and dip bowls, motor oil, fish hooks -- even a Rider poker set." Roughriders VP/Sales & Marketing Steve Mazurak said that all of the product ideas "come from the fans." The club is trying to "meet demand without diluting the brand." But Mazurak said, "It's not a crazy idea if someone's willing to buy it." Mazurak added, "Our No. 1 is our jerseys. They are the heart and soul of merchandise across the province." But Gillis reports the "undeniable success with jerseys doesn't mean there isn't room for growth: Expanding to womenswear, for instance, has opened new profit potential." The Roughriders currently offer "six different types of women's jerseys." Jersey City spokesperson Brent Boyle, whose company is the largest independent jersey retailer in Canada, said, "The female clientele is becoming an ever-increasing part of our customer base. A good chunk of our business is kids, and it's Mom going down and helping pick it out" (TORONTO STAR, 8/18).
GMR Marketing Exec VP/Sports Marketing Mike Boykin stopped by the SBD/SBJ Studio last week to discuss a number of issues in the news. In part one, Boykin talks about GMR’s year-to-date (“great first half, cautious a little bit in the second half”), the competition in the agency business (“There are probably 30 or 40 different agencies that we compete against. It kind of depends on the geography and the focus”), what clients are looking for from GMR (“It depends on where we are brought in to the process”) and the role of procurement in the overall process of working with clients (“When procurement works with the marketing department, we find that those work best and things will develop in a positive way”). View part one of the conversation below.
SBJ/SBD’s Abe Madkour (left) talks with GMR’s Mike Boykin
In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks noted the Coyotes “went outside their home marketplace when hiring” Minneapolis-based Fallon to “handle its advertising” for the ’11-12 NHL season. Fallon created the Travelers TV ad campaigns “shown often during national sporting events.” The Coyotes are “looking to improve their attendance, sponsorships and suite sales.” The team ranked 29 out of 30 NHL teams in attendance last season, drawing an “average just under 12,200 fans per game” to Jobing.com Arena (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/15).
THE BUZZ AROUND TOWN: The Hornets Monday announced that Entergy “has joined existing Cox Communications, 7-UP and Ochsner Health System as a top-level Crescent City Champion sponsor for the franchise.” In New Orleans, John Reid noted Entergy “has been a partner of the Hornets since the team arrived” in the city in ‘02. As a new Crescent City Champion, Entergy “has taken on the presenting role for Planet Rebound, the Hornets ‘green’ initiative that focuses on wetlands conservation, renewable energy and community beautification” (NOLA.com, 8/15).
JUST A MINUTE: The Univ. of Massachusetts and Nelligan Sports Marketing announced an agreement that gives NSM exclusive rights to manage UMass’s athletic marketing rights. NSM will also be able to sell permanent signage for all events in the Mullins Center (NSM).
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