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Volume 24 No. 137

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Home Depot declined to renew its entitlement for Speed's NASCAR program "Race Day presented by The Home Depot." Speed currently is in discussions with at least two companies interested in replacing The Home Depot as the presenting sponsor of its "Race Day" telecast. The show, which is produced live at the track prior to each NASCAR Sprint Cup race, is similar to ESPN's "College GameDay." The Home Depot was the presenting sponsor of "Race Day" for six years. The decision to end that advertising deal comes on the heels of a 12-race reduction in the company's sponsorship support of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 Sprint Cup car. The Home Depot decided to end its support of "Race Day" on Speed because it is "evaluating the best way to spend (its) marketing dollars" and is currently focusing its marketing efforts on the No. 20 car, a spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that the company is not cutting back on its spending in NASCAR, saying, "We're always evaluating and we've always changed our marketing mix in the sport. I don't know if you could qualify it as cutting back." The Home Depot in '08 struck a six-year agreement to sponsor the No. 20 car driven by Joey Logano. It recently agreed to let Dollar General sponsor 12 of the 36 races it was contracted to support in '12. When Tony Stewart drove the No. 20 car in '08, The Home Depot previously gave up three races to Subway. The spokesperson said, "That's a pretty normal practice in NASCAR." The spokesperon declined to comment on what savings the company realized by dropping its presenting sponsorship of "Race Day" and reducing the number of races its supports on the No. 20 car. Speed has averaged 687,000 viewers for its “Race Day” telecasts so far this season. The program has ranked as the network’s most-viewed telecast for the week on several occasions, and routinely ranked among the top five. Only two “Race Day” telecasts topped one million viewers this season -- the February race at Phoenix (1.4 million) and March race at Las Vegas (1.2 million viewers).



Mississippi State Univ. will wear a special adidas football uniform for the Nov. 26 season finale against Ole Miss. The "rivalry" design will feature a maroon jersey and pants, with gold numbers and "Hail State" on the name plate. The gold accents on the uniform tie into the trophy the teams annually play for, the Golden Egg. The jerseys feature enlarged "Mississippi State" wording over gold numbers on the front, with gold numbers and nameplates all featuring "Hail State,” the name of the school's fight song. The Bulldogs will also wear specially designed gold cleats. Retail outlets have begun sales of replica jerseys and related apparel (MSU). In Jackson, Brandon Marcello wrote, “I saw several concepts of the uniform and head gear this summer. The gold cleats were always a mainstay, though the logo representing the entire state of Mississippi was featured prominently on at least one of the designs” (, 10/18).

Under Armour Chair, President & CEO Kevin Plank participated in a Q&A with FOOTWEAR NEWS' Neil Weilheimer, who notes Plank is “as much inspirational coach and company cheerleader as CEO." He has in recent years "overhauled his footwear strategy, bringing in new leadership, improving product and letting shoes have as much marketing muscle as the star athletes.” The following is an excerpt from the Q&A with Plank.

Q: How challenging will it be to persuade retailers to take another look, to prove that Under Armour has footwear right?
Plank: The biggest knock we have is getting people over that hangover they may have felt. The good news is that when you look at this from a brand-awareness standpoint, as an apparel brand we have a 70 percent recall for the brand. From a footwear standpoint, we’ve been less than 10 percent. So it gives us an opportunity with the consumer, which is what is really important to us. A lot of them -- and this is both good and bad -- didn’t know we made shoes. Now the big emphasis is on us telling them that we make shoes.

Q: How concerned are you about the NBA lockout?
Plank: I don’t think it has any impact on us today. Of course, we’d love to see the game being played. That would be disappointing, and who knows what the repercussions for the immediate future would look like from a consumer perspective. But we are starting from a very low base, and so what we are building into is a plus-plus business.

Q: Talk of a Nike takeover had the Street buzzing a few weeks ago. Why do you think the rumors keep resurfacing?
Plank: I don’t know. There’s no truth to them. We are running and building a great business. Let me be clear: I am a fiduciary for the company first and foremost, which means that if an offer were ever presented that was in excess of where I thought we, our management, our product, our brand had the ability to go, it would be my obligation to make a decision in the best interest of the company for the shareholders. But the vision we have for this brand is probably so much bigger than anyone can get their arms around right now that it would be a hard decision to make (FOOTWEAR NEWS, 10/17 issue).

USA TODAY's Gary Stoller in a front-page Money section story reports a "growing number of U.S. airlines ... are reaching out to advertisers." Ads are "appearing not only on overhead bins, seat backs and tray tables but on flight attendants' aprons, snack boxes and napkins." In the past, Southwest "painted a Slam Dunk One aircraft" for the NBA, while JetBlue has planes "painted for business partner DirecTV and two sports teams it sponsors" -- the NFL Jets and MLS Real Salt Lake. Both airlines said that their planes "are painted only for marketing partners and sponsors, and no ad space is for sale on the exterior of their jets." US Airways, which "has planes painted for four NFL teams it sponsors," said advertising is "an important source of revenue" (USA TODAY, 10/19).

ACROSS THE GLOBE: In DC, Michael Lee reported Wizards C JaVale McGee was scheduled to "go on a promotion tour through the Philippines for Smart Communications, the country's leading wireless provider." A source said that he will "film commercials and make some appearances as part of a newly-signed endorsement deal with the talk and text company" (, 10/18).

ROUNDUP: USA TODAY's Reid Cherner noted the FTD College Rose Collection "allows you to be true to your school and true-blue." The company "offers special arrangements of roses that match school colors." The schools that "are currently involved in the flower venture" are Alabama, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, Penn State and Tennessee (, 10/18)....The Bears have partnered with Chicago-based AthletiCo Physical and Occupational Therapy, which will become the club's official physical therapy provider. AthletiCo will sponsor fitness segments on and will maintain a presence throughout the season, including sponsoring the digital scoreboard and end zone LED displays (Bears).