Fox' sales team has sold 90% "of its inventory for the Daytona 500 and expects to sell out this week," according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The amount of inventory sold is similar to last year's race, but Fox Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales Neil Mulcahy said that the net was "able to increase the price of ads" by 4-6% on average. The average price for a 30-second spot was not disclosed. Fox has seen "strong demand in several categories for Sunday's race, including insurance, quick-service restaurants, retail, soft drinks and automotive." There also will be "heavy film studio advertising during Sunday's race." The net saw a high demand "for its double-box advertising pods." Meanwhile, ad sales for the rest of Fox' 13-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule "also are pacing ahead of last year's levels" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/20 issue).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Golfer Bubba Watson’s plans to “drive a parade lap around Phoenix International Raceway in the original General Lee car” from the show "The Dukes of Hazzard" before the March 4 Sprint Cup Series race “have been scrapped,” according to Jim Utter of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The problem is "the Confederate flag image" on the roof of the car. NASCAR Managing Dir of Integrated Marketing Communications David Higdon on Friday said, "NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Phoenix International Raceway officials discussed this and decided it was not in the best interest of our sport.” He added, "The image of the Confederate flag is not something that should play an official role in our sport as we continue to reach out to new fans and make NASCAR more inclusive" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/18). Watson said, “NASCAR was built on moonshining, so the show was built on moonshining. I thought it was fun. I didn’t buy the car to get publicity; I bought it because I love it” (AP, 2/17). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee wrote the decision is “going to rile up hardcore fans, but so be it.” NASCAR has to “play to a larger fanbase now” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/17).
Montgomery Sports Group President & CEO Roger Montgomery, who represents Knicks G Jeremy Lin, Friday confirmed that his client has been approached to endorse “a little bit of everything, a variety of categories.” Montgomery, appearing on CNBC, said he was getting inquiries from U.S., Chinese and Taiwanese companies. He said the interest is “unprecedented,” and what “we’re going to do is take our time and we’re going to use balance in this process” to determine what companies to align with and endorse. Lin has not signed any deals yet, “outside of the deal he already had with Nike” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 2/18). AD AGE’s Rich Thomaselli noted whether Montgomery’s “relatively small agency can handle the influx” of requests for Lin “remains to be seen.” Sources said that there are “more than brands reaching out: Sports-marketing firm IMG, the sports division of Creative Artists Agency, and the LeBron James-backed LRMR Marketing have all put out feelers about representing” Lin's marketing. None of the three firms responded to requests for comment (ADAGE.com, 2/19).
JERSEY SCORE: Lin played one game this season with the NBA D-League Erie BayHawks before being called up to the Knicks last month, and in Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman reported BayHawks Owner Jed Kaplan "has put in a special order for BayHawks Lin jerseys." Kaplan said, "We're talking to the league. They said it could take some time. We're negotiating with adidas" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/20). ABC’s Mike Tirico reported Lin's success "has brought the throwbacks (jerseys) from Jeremy’s background -- from Palo Alto High, from Harvard, where he wore No. 4. You can see how his jersey has been all the sensation online and at the NBA Store in New York” (“Mavericks-Knicks,” ABC, 2/19). Director Spike Lee wore a Harvard jersey, Lee's alma mater, to yesterday's Mavericks-Knicks game. ABC's Michael Wilbon said, "How many choices do you have for Lin jerseys? They can’t keep them on the shelves in the stores” (“NBA Countdown,” ABC, 2/19).
MAKING THE RIGHT CALL: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said it was an "absolute mandatory change of heart” by NBA Commissioner David Stern to name Lin to the BBVA Rising Stars game that is part of All-Star Weekend. Plaschke said, “I wasn’t even going to watch the game. Now I’ll watch, not just because of Lin but he’s on the same team as Blake Griffin.” SB Nation's Bomani Jones said there “was simply no reason not to” name Lin to the team. Jones: “David Stern made the right call. This is what people want to see in an exhibition game” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/17). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said, "Lin’s in and we all want to see it!” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 2/17). ESPN’s Howard Bryant said Stern “must be going nuts to lose Yao Ming and the Asian market, and now to have Jeremy Lin takeover. This is exactly what the global game was supposed to be” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 2/19).
New Era Cap President Peter Augustine in a recent interview with the BUFFALO NEWS’ David Robinson spoke about the company’s local operations in the city and its plans for the future. Below are excerpts from the Q&A:
Q: How is the cap business? I know it took quite a hit during the recession, especially with your small retailers.
Augustine: We’re starting to move in a better direction. With those small businesses, I think that’s probably created a permanent change in the landscape of retail that we’re dealing with. The bigger guys have gotten stronger, which is OK because we have good relationships with Lids, Champs Sports, Foot Locker -- these big national retailers -- as well as the strong regional guys like Hibbett Sports and Modell’s Sporting Goods here in the Northeast.
Q: What products are selling now?
Augustine: The big story in the head wear business is the snap-back, which is our 950 style. There’s a big retro style pointing back to the mid-’80s. That’s the old fashioned plastic strap back adjustable cap.
Q: Your NFL contract is on the verge of kicking in. What are your expectations there?
Augustine: We’ve got a good base of business booked for our first launch, which is going to be centered around the draft. … We’ll follow that up with product that’s focused on the training camps. Our big launch will be for the official on-field product that will hit in the August time frame, ahead of the regular season. We really feel we’re going to change the look and feel on the sidelines and bring some real authenticity there.
Q: What are your plans for your own retail stores?
Augustine: We’re looking to get more aggressive with New Era-specific retail. We’ve got 12 stores that are open right now. Five years ago, we opened our first flagship store in New York City. Last year, we added Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Chicago to the mix. What that allows us to do is basically allow us to tell the full New Era product story.
Q: Are you looking to add more stores?
Augustine: We have a plan, directionally, to get to 100 stores over the next five years, focused mainly on North America, but we do have activities going on in other international markets. We’re about to open a second store in London (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/19).
In Birmingham, Doug Demmons reported NASCAR yesterday announced that it is “once again changing the rules for who is eligible to drive in the annual season-opening Bud Shootout exhibition race.” The change “likely means the end of Budweiser's sponsorship of the Shootout.” The announcement from NASCAR “did not mention sponsorship but referred to the race as the 2013 Shootout with no mention of Budweiser.” The field will consist of those drivers “who win a pole during the season and former Shootout winners,” the way it was done from ’79-‘08, when Budweiser “decided not to renew its sponsorship of the weekly award given to the driver who wins the pole.” That sponsorship “was picked up instead by a competing beer company -- Coors” (AL.com, 2/19).
UP TO BAT: In Boston, Greg Turner reports Reebok has “reaffirmed its commitment” to Red Sox DH David Ortiz, although the Massachusetts-based company “declined to provide details of its sponsorship contract.” Ortiz during the offseason also “inked another equity deal with Fuse Science, a Florida firm peddling a pain relief product called EnerJel.” In addition, Ortiz will “re-launch his salsa product soon under the ‘Big Papi’s Kitchen’ brand, and No. 34’s marketing team has not given up on reviving Big Papi’s Grille, a steakhouse that lasted only two years in Framingham but could find a new home in Boston.” Ortiz earns $3-5M "from his off-field sponsorships and investments” (BOSTON HERALD, 2/20).
NEW THREADS: In Missouri, Didi Tang reported Missouri State Univ. “will purchase athletic gear” from adidas. MSU interim President Clif Smart said that the MSU BOG on Friday “unanimously approved the five-year, $625,000 contract” with adidas. MSU AD Kyle Moats said that adidas “offered the best deal, in which the university agrees to buy at least $125,000 worth of products from Adidas every year, with a discount of 45 percent for footwear or 50 percent for apparel, accessories and equipment.” Moats added that as part of the contract, adidas “agrees to an in-kind donation of $180,000 in merchandise each year.” He said that offers from Nike and Under Armour “were not even half as generous.” The contract makes adidas the “exclusive supplier of athletic gear for MSU’s sports teams, except men’s basketball, which has a separate contract with Nike until August 2014” (Springfield NEWS-LEADER, 2/18).