LG has extended its NCAA corporate partnership for three more years in the home entertainment, appliance and mobile phone categories. The deal was brokered by Turner Sports and CBS, which jointly manage and sell the NCAA’s marketing rights. That means LG will be an NCAA partner through the '15 NCAA men's basketball tournament. “This will provide LG with a longer runway to plan and activate,” said Turner Senior VP/NCAA Partnerships & Branded Programming Will Funk. Funk announced the extension today, along with CBS Sports Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Chris Simko. LG has provided some of the most entertaining activation the last two years at Bracket Town, the NCAA’s primary sponsor activation Fanfest at the Final Four. With its appliances and a fully furnished kitchen serving as the backdrop, LG’s Fanfest area has featured celebrity chefs and a coaches’ cook-off as a way to lure fans. The company also is expected to ramp up its efforts at retail with promotions to drive traffic into its partner stores. Funk and Simko said it also is likely that LG will play some kind of role in March Madness on Demand during the NCAA tournament, but those details have not been finalized yet. AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola are the NCAA’s corporate champions, the highest level of sponsorship, while LG is a corporate partner along with Buick, Enterprise, Hershey, Infiniti, Kraft, Lowe’s, Unilever, UPS and the recently signed Northwestern Mutual.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Ford officials yesterday unveiled their ‘13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car at Charlotte Motor Speedway, “rolling out the re-tooled Fusion that will take the track next season,” according to Kenny Bruce of SCENEDAILY.com. The car features “something of a step back in that it was designed to more closely resemble the street version of the vehicle.” Ford North America Motorsports Dir Jamie Allison said, “NASCAR listened, NASCAR led and we the manufacturers stepped up to give the fans what they want.” Officials hope that a closer resemblance between cars on the track and cars in dealerships “will help spur sales while generating more interest among race fans.” Allison said that he believes that “when fans see just how closely that resemblance is, ‘it will attract more fans.’” Bruce noted the differences in the new car include “changes in the angle of the windshield, a shorter trunk area and other smaller moves.” Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle said, “So many people wanted to get back to the old car. This is clearly not the old car, but it’s really back in that direction” (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/24). Biffle said fans are “not going to complain about” the new car. Biffle: "That thing is badass." ESPN.com’s David Newton wrote, “It's sleek. It's racy. It's everything the car we've grown to hate hasn't been.” Team Owner Richard Petty said, "If it runs as good as it looks, we'll be good" (ESPN.com, 1/24).
DESIGN SCHOOL: Ford is the first NASCAR manufacturer to unveil its ’13 car model, kicking off a new wave of designs that will bring the look of racing cars more in line with the look of production vehicles. Allison spoke to SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Tripp Mickle during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour organized by Charlotte Motor Speedway about what the new Ford Fusion design means for the company’s marketing and sales efforts.
Q: The old adage is win on Sunday, sell on Monday. But is that still applicable?
Allison: The evidence is unequivocal. One third of all new car buyers are fans (of motorsports). We ask them what they follow and 84 percent say they follow NASCAR. Then we compare fans to the general market, fans buy more Fords than the general market and they have higher loyalty and higher affinity.
Q: What will this design do?
Allison: Get more fans. The fans that are disengaged because the cars don’t look like cars will come back to the sport. As they come back to the sport, they will see the Ford and we’ll have a chance to win in the Ford. More fans equals more opportunities to win on Sunday and sell on Monday.
Q: So on the whole you expect more Ford sales because of the new design?
Allison: I expect the transition of getting the cars on the track to look more like the cars people drive. Ford, Chevy's, Dodge and Camry’s will bring more fans. And more fans means more opportunities to sell Fords.
Q: How did manufacturers and NASCAR get to this point where you could debut a car with this look?
Allison: I have to give the credit to NASCAR. If they’re willing to listen and lead, then results happen. They listened, they led and the results are the proof. They listened to the fans and listened to the manufacturer. They led by bringing the manufacturers together and collaborating on designs and making sure the competition is unchanged. Then they facilitated this to happen, which results in the new look of the cars.
exceed sponsors' expectations
ON THE HORIZON: SCENE DAILY’s Jeff Owens noted RFR “had to contract from four to three Sprint Cup teams this season, but already is working on finding sponsors to expand back to four teams next season.” It also is “still looking for sponsors for its two Nationwide Series teams.” In addition, the organization “still needs sponsorship for about 10 races” for Cup driver Matt Kenseth. Meanwhile, Nationwide Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. does not have a sponsor yet, but the organization “has committed to running him” for the full season. Driver Trevor Bayne is “expected to run a partial Nationwide schedule, but Roush is looking for sponsorship to run him for the full season as well.” Newmark: “We are still out there talking to a number of sponsors and that will dictate whether we bump from one and a half to a full two” (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/24).
Michael Waltrip Racing yesterday converted its shop into a commercial set and filmed eight hours of TV advertising for Aaron's. The six resulting commercials will air this NASCAR season and feature both Waltrip and Mark Martin, who will drive the No. 55 Aaron’s car in the Sprint Cup Series this year. Waltrip: “It’s all about the differences between him and me. Me being big and goofy and him stiff.” Martin added, “And self-conscious” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
HOW THE WEST WAS WON: USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan reports the saloon and hotel at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Whisky River, a replica Western town on his property north of Charlotte, were “being used for the second consecutive year as the location for a commercial shoot to promote the Sprint All-Star Race.” Drivers Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Paul Menard were “dressed in gunslinger garb, and Hall of Famer Junior Johnson tended bar in a black hat and vest.” Because Earnhardt “isn't locked into the event," he does not appear in the ad, though he "stopped in to watch it being filmed.” (USA TODAY, 1/25).
LEAVING STREAKS: Window replacement company Window World will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 36 car to be driven by the Yellow Dragon Motorsports team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Int'l Speedway this weekend. The YDM team is made up of John Andretti, Jarett Andretti, Taylor Hacquard and Anders Krohn. This is the first year that Window World has sponsored a car in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The company has previously sponsored John Andretti in numerous other races, including the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 (Window World).
TIME ME: There will be a limited edition Chip Ganassi Racing watch designed by the team’s owner its official timing partner, Tsovet, that will be available for purchase (Mickle).
Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista, who has led the AL in home runs the past two years, will appear on the cover of the Canadian version of Sony’s "MLB 12: The Show." Bautista did a shoot Monday in N.Y. for the video game, scheduled to be released March 6. Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez will be on the cover of the U.S. version of the game. Twins C Joe Mauer had been on the cover the past two years. Bautista, represented for marketing by Alex Radetsky at Radegen Sports Management, has also completed a new footwear/apparel deal with Reebok, switching from New Balance.
PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote Nike’s new NFL jerseys “will look the same" as the current Reebok jerseys "barring any changes that would be made in the ordinary course of changing jerseys.” A Nike exec said in October '10 that the company “plans on ‘changing the NFL jersey dramatically.’” However, the league is “now saying otherwise.” NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said, “Logos are controlled by teams and the NFL. That will not change. Teams have to apply to [the] league to make changes to logos and colors.” The league said that the new jerseys will be unveiled “in late April, in connection with the 2012 draft.” McCarthy added that the league’s policy on players changing jersey numbers “won’t change.” However, NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that the “requirement that a player who changes his number refund Reebok for the unsold inventory of jerseys bearing the prior number will go away in conjunction with the changeover” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/24).
DANCING MACHINE: On Long Island, Zach Schonbrun writes Giants WR Victor Cruz “has certainly emerged as a fan favorite.” Fans filled Modell’s Sporting Goods store in Times Square yesterday to see Cruz “partake in a salsa-dancing lesson, sign some autographs and promote a new T-shirt officially on sale with ‘Cruuuuuuuuuz!’ on the front and salsa steps on the back -- an homage to his trademark touchdown celebration.” Schonbrun notes his “celebrity seems at its peak.” Cruz “recently turned down an opportunity to appear on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in the offseason and a five-minute lesson at Modell's drew fans by the hundreds screaming his name” (NEWSDAY, 1/25).
SITTING, WAITING, WISHING: T’Wolves G Ricky Rubio said that he is “still without any local product endorsement deals.” He also said that he “hasn't heard from Nike about renewing his basketball shoe contract.” Rubio: “I'm going to wait; if not, I'll do another deal (elsewhere)” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/25).
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: U.K. heptathlete Jessica Ennis “is the star of British Airways's new in-flight ‘wellbeing’ movie, alongside gymnast Louis Smith and Paralympian Shelly Woods.” The video features Ennis “clearing hurdles, Smith completing a routine on a pommell horse and Woods hurtling down an athletics track in her wheelchair” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 1/25).