IMG Managing Dir, Senior VP & Head of Global Consulting David Abrutyn said that Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin “has signed a long-term endorsement deal with Nike,” according to Tarik El-Bashir of the WASHINGTON POST. Ovechkin’s previous endorsement deal with CCM “expired earlier this week.” Abrutyn said, “I can confirm that Alex has signed a long-term global partnership with Nike. Alex is going to be supporting all of the products that Nike makes -- apparel, footwear, performance apparel, casual wear, accessories and other elements of the Nike family of products.” Ovechkin on Tuesday is scheduled to hold a news conference, and Abrutyn “would not comment on the reason.” El-Bashir noted Ovechkin “might reveal the company that will supply his sticks, skates and equipment beginning next season.” Abrutyn also “wouldn’t comment on the length of Ovechkin’s contract with Nike, nor would he say how much it’s worth.” Abrutyn: “All I can tell you is it’s a long-term deal.” Abrutyn “did seem to indicate that the deal will run at least through the Sochi Games in Ovechkin’s native Russia in 2014, and perhaps longer” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/1).
Marketing and Sponsorship
UPS plans to cut back dramatically on its support of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 car driven by David Ragan in '12. Sources familiar with the company’s plan said it will drop its full-season primary sponsorship of the No. 6 car and sponsor four to eight races at RFR in '12. The company is in talks to shift its sponsorship to Carl Edwards, who drives the team’s No. 99 car. RFR President Steve Newmark declined to comment and said the team is still in discussions with UPS. The company did not return a call seeking comment. The move will further reduce the number of sponsors paying for their logo to appear in all 36 NASCAR races. UPS was one of seven sponsors slated to be on the same NASCAR hood for all 36 Sprint Cup races. The other full-season primary sponsors are FedEx, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Miller Lite and NAPA Auto Parts. (Red Bull and Furniture Row own the teams that feature their logos.) The move comes on the heels of UPS’ four-year, $100M deal with 68 colleges. The company had a long history in NASCAR and was one of the first in the sport to effectively make a driver the public face of its brand by featuring Dale Jarrett in a multiyear campaign. Known as “Race the Truck,” the humorous campaign showed the company trying to convince the driver to race its “Big Brown” truck in a race. Though UPS won’t renew its full-season primary sponsorship at RFR, sources said the company is expected to renew its official partnership with NASCAR. It has been the sport’s official delivery company since '00 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL: Fastenal Thursday announced that it has signed a multiyear deal with RFR to sponsor Edwards' No. 99 ride. Fastenal will be the primary sponsor of the car for 17 Sprint Cup races in '12, starting with the Daytona 500. The company also will sponsor two more RFR entries in a yet-to-be-determined '12 Sprint Cup race, putting three Fastenal-branded cars on the track in a single event (Fastenal).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports have "agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep the sport's most popular driver with the organization" through '17, according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Earnhardt and team Owner Rick Hendrick "had agreed to extend the deal months ago," and JR Motorsports co-Owner & GM Kelley Earnhardt "negotiated the deal" with Hendrick Motorsports President & CEO Marshall Carlson. No sponsorship for '13-17 was announced (SCENEDAILY.com, 9/1). Hendrick said, "Junior and I had a handshake agreement months ago, and we let other people work out the finer points from there. It was as simple and smooth as it gets" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/2). ESPN.com's David Newton wrote the deal "didn't involve a huge news conference, a lot of hoopla, pomp and circumstance" because Earnhardt "didn't want to bring attention to this." Newton added, "This deal will end talk of Earnhardt going to Richard Childress Racing, where his dad won six of his seven titles, and possibly drive the No. 3" (ESPN.com, 9/1).
BOTH SIDES WIN: FOXSPORTS.com's Larry McReynolds wrote, "This is good for both sides." McReynolds: "In Dale Jr.'s case it actually boils down to a simple question: Where would he go? Where can he go that would be better across the board in people, technology and resources year in and year out than Hendrick Motorsports?" McReynolds continued, "Now on the other side of the coin is Hendrick Motorsports, and let's face it: From a business perspective, you can't get any better than Dale Earnhardt Jr. He generates a lot of exposure and revenue for that company. He is far and away NASCAR's most popular driver year after year" (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/1). ESPN’s Terry Blount: "We’re still talking about a guy who is the most marketable driver in the sport, a guy who transcends the sport, and that’s why they want to re-sign him. He can bring sponsorship” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 9/1).
It's not just the national networks that are reaping the rewards from the scalding hot ad sales market for college football. On the local level, Fox Sports Net said it has almost no inventory left in at least two of the college conferences it sells. FSN is virtually sold out in its Big Ten Conference games and is close to selling out its Pac-12 games. FSN games in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are between 70-80% sold. "These are strong, strong results," said FSN Exec VP/Ad Sales Kyle Sherman. "We have seen a flurry of activity in the past couple of weeks." Thanks in part to the fact that it's selling a new package of ACC games, FSN's billing has doubled from last year. Taking away the ACC results, FSN still is seeing an increase of around 30%. "We have a lot more product this year," Sherman said. FSN's regional ad sales have been helped by the new college football schedules on Fox's broadcast channel and FX, Sherman said, pointing to an advertiser like MillerCoors, which has bought sponsorships on all three. On FSN, pre-, post- and halftime shows will be presented from the Coors Light Studio. Buick, Dr Pepper, Hyundai and Sprint also have bought unique sponsorships. As with other sports on TV, the auto category is driving the college football ad sales market, Sherman said. "When they have money and are selling cars, they advertise," he said.
The Gator Bowl “has signed a three-year title sponsorship agreement with TaxSlayer.com, an internet tax service based in Augusta, Ga,” according to Garry Smits of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The deal, in effect with this season’s matchup on Jan. 2 at EverBank Field, is “part of a larger sponsorship deal between TaxSlayer.com and ESPN college football.” Progressive sponsored the Gator Bowl earlier this year, while Konica Minolta was the title partner “for three years before that” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/1). Smits notes TaxSlayer.com is “doing well enough to dive heavily into sports marketing.” The company also is “one of the sponsors for NASCAR's marquee driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and has now forged an extensive marketing and advertising deal with ESPN.” Gator Bowl President Rick Catlett did not disclose financial terms, but the deal “will enable the Gator Bowl to maintain at least the $5.4 million payout that was divided between Mississippi State and Michigan last year.” TaxSlayer.com is the Gator Bowl's “fourth title sponsor in the past six years” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/2).
Deutsche Bank Americas CEO Seth Waugh said that he’d “like to see how this year’s tournament goes before deciding" whether the company will renew its title sponsorship of the annual PGA Tour event in Boston, according to Michael Whitmer of the BOSTON GLOBE. Deutsche Bank has title sponsored the Deutsche Bank Championship since its inception in '03, but its agreement expires after next year's event. This year, Deutsche Bank added EMC as a "presenting sponsor to absorb some of the costs.” Waugh: “We’ll sit down pretty quickly after this and say, ‘OK did it work for you guys, are you happy, do you want to be a team going forward?' Because if they don’t, that’s one way to think about it, and if they do, that’s another way to think about it. We’ll make a decision this fall.” He added, “This is our ninth year, so we’ll have done it 10 years (when the current deal expires), and it’s been great. There’s no questions this is the most important thing we do as a branding event and a client event all year. ... We’d absolutely like to stick around. All the reasons we did it are more important now than ever.” Waugh said that a likely extension “would be for four years, which would take Deutsche Bank’s involvement with the tournament through 2016” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2).
HEALTHY LIVING: Earlier this week, the Deutsche Bank Championship announced a "new partnership with Covidien, a global health care products company.” The tournament said that the partnership "will focus on health and wellness and will support local children’s programs” (BOSTON.com, 8/26).
AD AGE’s Rich Thomaselli reported it “took less than two weeks” after the NFL lockout ended for CBS and Yahoo Sports “to sell all the online ad inventory around their fantasy football properties.” CBS Interactive Chief Client Officer David Morris “cut a three-year deal making Volkswagen the exclusive auto sponsor of Fantasy Football, a deal that carries over into other platforms on CBSSports.com.” Volkswagen Group of America GM /Digital Marketing Charlie Taylor said that the auto company “wanted to use the NFL to support its 2012 Passat, one of its biggest introductions in more than a decade.” Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports “has seen a 15% increase in player sign-ups for its main fantasy football game” (ADAGE.com, 8/31).
WEATHERING THE STORM: Atlanta Motor Speedway VP/Sales Greg Walter said that while the economy “has affected sports sponsorship sales in recent years,” the track has been "able to weather the downturn.” He noted that “more than 100 companies have marketing or sponsorship deals” with AMS in conjunction with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 on Sunday. The event’s “biggest sponsor is AdvoCare,” which signed a three-year contract in May “to succeed Emory Healthcare as the race’s title sponsor.” AdvoCare VP/Marketing Jan Wold said, “I just felt, instead of buying a bunch of TV commercials for one or two nights, this would get us more value.” She said the company is “always trying to do something to build the brand, become a household name” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/31).
3D PROJECTIONS: MEDIA POST’s Karl Greenberg reports the Univ. of Texas is “launching a campaign promoting the university on the new Longhorn Network and on broadcasts of UT games, as well as at school events.” The ads feature “footage of a video projection on UT Tower that spotlights famous alumni and uses 3D graphics to make the building look as if it is made of spinning blocks that fit together like puzzle pieces.” The campaign, via GSD&M, Austin, and Klip Collective, “comprises five spots extending the university's 10-year-old ‘What Starts Here Changes the World’ tag.” The first of the ads aired Aug. 26 during the launch of LHN. The spots will continue to “air in-game on stations like FSN, ABC and ESPN, the UT JumboTron, and online at www.UTexas.edu” (MEDIAPOST.com, 8/31).
BOBBLEHEAD TOUR: CABLEFAX DAILY notes Turner Broadcasting will bring its “MLB Postseason on TBS Bobblehead Tour” to eight cities this month “to hype postseason play, which begins on the net Sept. 30.” Baseball fans “can get their photos taken with Postseason Pete, a 12-foot bobblehead statue decked out in the home teams’ uniform” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 9/2).