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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe is set to replace Danica Patrick “as the driver of Andretti Autosport's Go Daddy-sponsored No. 27 Chevrolet” next season in the Izod IndyCar Series, according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Hinchcliffe's new ride seemed “ticketed for Dan Wheldon” before the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion was killed last October in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Go Daddy CMO Barb Rechterman said that the company “didn't consider leaving IndyCar because it liked the series' international expansion," as China is going to host its first IndyCar race this year. Rechterman said, "It's going to reinvigorate the series." She added that Go Daddy “would use Hinchcliffe in a nationally televised advertising campaign as it did Patrick.” Hinchcliffe said, "If I have to be part of racy advertisements, that's fine. Hopefully we can make a similar splash like with Danica, but maybe appealing to a different demographic. I don't think it'll be good for their marketing if they put me in a bikini" (USA TODAY, 1/10).

YOU'VE BEEN SERVIA-D:’s Robin Miller reported Oriol Servia is “all but signed and sealed for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season with Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl.” Servia had “been on A.J. Foyt’s short list but lost out to Mike Conway, who brought sponsorship” (, 1/9).

The business of Broncos QB Tim Tebow is "buzzing" following a season that saw him lead the team to its first playoff win in six years, but the problem is companies "cashing in," according to CNBC's Darren Rovell. Nike has done "nothing at retail, save for a limited edition T-shirt that was quietly put on," while fellow endorsers Jockey and FRS "haven't done much visible advertising with Tebow." However, Palm Beach Autographs, which has an exclusive deal with Tebow, "can't get Tebow to sign fast enough." Rovell: "There's big business to be had, but the so-called hot market is having a tough time keeping up with everything Tebow" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 1/9). Rovell said there is an “uncomfortable sense" around Tebow from companies. Nike has not "done anything with him yet," though Jockey is "doing a $1 million promotion if the Broncos make it to the Super Bowl." Rovell: "There is some sort of in-between here of will a big company commit a huge marketing budget to Tim Tebow if they're not quite sure (about his chances of sustained success)." Rovell speculated that there will be a "company in the next 90 days or when his season is over that is going to take a very big chance on him" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 1/9).

JERSEYS IN DEMAND: Denver-based apparel store Sportsfan Division Manager John Brennan said that Tebow's performance Sunday against the Steelers "will make Tebow jerseys a hot seller through the summer and into the fall." Brennan currently is sold out of Tebow jerseys, and he said, "I've never seen anything like it." The sale of Tebow's jersey on during the past nine months ranks behind only Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Brandon Yergey, the Marketing Manager for the 13 Dick's Sporting Goods locations in Colorado, said that Broncos merchandise "has been highly popular." Yergey: "We assume we will see terrific (Broncos product) movement up to the game in New England. The city has the fever" (DENVER POST, 1/10). Mile High Magazine’s Brandon Krisztal said, “In terms of an individual generating this much buzz, we haven’t seen anything like it around here in Denver, and I’m not sure that anyone has seen it anywhere.” However, CNBC's Rovell noted with Nike taking over the apparel deal from Reebok next season, Reebok is “phasing out jerseys." Rovell: "There are really not a lot of Tim Tebow jerseys or blank jerseys that can be imprinted with Tebow 15 because of the end of this deal. There is a lot of money being left on the table because of the timing of Tebow-mania and the uniform deal” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 1/9).

SETTING A TWITTER RECORD: Twitter said yesterday that Tebow-related activity in the minutes during and after the Broncos' win Sunday over the Steelers set a new sports-related record for heaviest activity with a mark of 9,420 tweets per second. The prior sports mark was the final of the '11 FIFA Women's World Cup, which hit a peak rate of 7,196 tweets per second. The Tebow record, however, remains well short of the overall Twitter volume mark, which was set in Japan in December for a screening of a classic anime movie, garnering a top level of 25,088 tweets per second (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN’s Mike Golic said of the Twitter record, “Tim Tebow brings in more non-sports people to this world than any other athlete does right now." ESPN’s Mike Greenberg: “Lady GaGa tweeted about this. ... Kobe Bryant tweeted about it. Everyone in the world was tweeting about it” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 1/10).

POPULARITY REACHING NEW HEIGHTS: Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Mark Coppenger said that Tebow's "popularity has risen to such heights that he may be second only to crusader Billy Graham in his evangelical commitment." USA TODAY's Cathy Lynn Grossman in a front-page Cover Story notes Tebow "was No. 11 on the annual USA TODAY/Gallup list of most admired men in the nation, topping the Dalai Lama." The votes "were cast back when the Broncos were still on the playoff bubble." If Tebow's success "continues, he could become God's gift to marketing" (USA TODAY, 1/10).The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes Tebow "is the breath of fresh air the NFL and a lot of other professional sports, for that matter, needs." Aside from the "obvious benefits to the Broncos’ loyalists," Tebow is "drawing a whole new group of fans to the NFL." His ability to "pull wins out of nowhere attracts everyone from lapsed NFL fans to curious women." Tebow is also a "one-man story bank for the media" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/10).

USA Today's Sports Media Group has cut its first deal with a major sports property, signing on as a preferred supplier with the PGA Tour. Under the five-year deal, USA Today gets a guaranteed ad spend by the PGA Tour, and the Tour will direct its sponsors to spend some of their ad guarantees with USA Today and other Gannett media. Gannett/USA Today hopes to realize from the low-to-mid-seven figures annually in ad revenue from the deal. A spokesperson for the media group declined to comment. A source with knowledge of the deal said an internal e-mail on the arrangement had already been circulated at Gannett and that the deal would be made public within a week to 10 days. "This is about bringing USA Today closer to the PGA as a business and a sport and dedicating resources to covering them at a high level," the source said. "That is how they are approaching every sports property now." The USA Today Sports Media Group includes the flagship national newspaper, along with various sports sites, like and, Gannett's 80 local newspapers and 23 TV stations. Since the Tour needs local coverage as it moves across the country, those local media assets were an important part of the deal. For the USA Today Sports Media Group, the deal is the first in what it hopes will be a number of deals with top sports properties.

Skechers for its Super Bowl ad this year is replacing Kim Kardashian with “a French bulldog,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Skechers execs insisted that the “negative PR” around the end of Kardashian's three-month marriage to Nets F Kris Humphries “has nothing to do with their decision.” In the ad, a “tiny dog -- be-decked in Skecher’s new GOrun shoes -- races a pack of greyhounds.” However, the appearance of the greyhounds, “is raising eyebrows from an animal rights group Grey2K USA, which is petitioning to ax the ad.” The group claims that the greyhounds “were mistreated and kept in tiny cages at Tucson Greyhound Park.” The American Humane Society said that “no animals were harmed in the making of the ad.” Meanwhile, Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban “has a cameo in the new spot” (USA TODAY, 1/10). The spot will air during the two-minute warning of the first half (Skechers).

NOT WORTH THE COST: Denny’s is not advertising in the game after promoting the restaurant chain during the '09 and '10 games. Denny's CMO Frances Allen noted the company didn’t consider buying ad time during the Super Bowl this year, saying, "If you have a purpose for being in there, it’s great. It’s the most expensive airtime and I don’t really see the ROI for it." Allen: "It’s wonderful to have your ad talked about the next day and some people get great media out of that. But we’ve got a full year to support and blowing such a huge proportion of the budget on one spot -- it’s rarely the right decision” (, 1/6).

Trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights reported that Coors Light “has displaced Budweiser as the No. 2 beer in America, marking the first time in almost 20 years that Anheuser-Busch has not controlled the nation's top two beer brands.” Bud “still finished 2011 down 4.6% in shipments.” Coors Light in total “shipped 18.2 million barrels, while Budweiser ended 2011 at 17.7 million.” A-B's Bud Light “remains the nation's top-selling beer by a wide margin” (, 1/9).

CRABCAKES AND FOOTBALL: In Baltimore, Alexander Jackson notes by hosting an AFC divisional playoff game this Sunday, the Ravens, the state of Maryland, and its businesses “are ready to rake in more cash than they have in years.” The Ravens could make “at least four times what the franchise would have on the road for a playoff game.” Ravens VP/Corporate Sales & Development Mark Burdett said that the team’s take from a road playoff “would have been around $250,000.” That number “may surpass $1 million with a home game.” Jackson notes taxes on tickets at M&T Bank Stadium “alone will add about $500,000 to the state’s coffers.” In addition, companies that have “teamed up with the Ravens through sponsorships and broadcasting deals, like M&T Bank Corp. and WBAL Radio, may get a big January bump in revenue.” Burdett said that “most regular-season sponsors, like Merritt Properties Inc., have ponied up disclosed amounts to put their logo in the stadium and lock up their suites” for this weekend’s game (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/6 issue).

BROUGHT TO YOU BY...: The U.S. Army and the Ad Council today unveiled a new TV PSA featuring Heat F LeBron James designed to highlight the dropout crisis in America and encourage adults nationwide to motivate and inspire students in their communities. The spot was created by advertising agency Publicis New York (THE DAILY).

MAKING A RUN: Several companies had a major presence on ESPN's pregame coverage of the BCS National Championship game last night, including Taco Bell, which promoted its latest product. Coming back from commercial, two fans were seen racing to see who could put tacos into a box faster. ESPN’s Chris Fowler noted, “Fans in New Orleans enjoying themselves at the Taco Bell Fanfest, trying to fill the brand-new Taco 12-Pack box” (“Bud Light BCS Pregame Show,” ESPN, 1/9).