The NHL this week is debuting a new postseason marketing campaign with the tagline, "Because It’s The Cup," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The new effort replaces the two-year-old "History Will Be Made" campaign and "showcases a new and unprecedented degree of cooperation between the league and MolsonCoors, which signed an NHL-record" $375M North American sponsorship deal last February. The new campaign "was done by lead MillerCoors agency DraftFCB, and it includes some bar scenes." In addition, 4,000 bars across the U.S. and 2,500 in Canada will be "drawing Molson Canadian and Coors Light draft with Stanley Cup tap handles." NHL marketers are "trying to turn the Stanley Cup playoffs into their own version of March Madness." NHL Exec VP/Marketing Brian Jennings said that an objective is to "attract non-hockey fans by 'socializing the Stanley Cup playoffs.'" The shift from “History Will Be Made,” directed at avid fans, to “Because It’s The Cup,” aimed at casual and non-fans, "was based on research among casual and non-hockey fans showing that even those who could barely name a player on a team other than their local NHL club still had a knowledge of and appreciation for the Stanley Cup’s heritage." Jennings said that "nearly every league sponsor will do some sort of 'Because It’s The Cup' branding, via packaging, digital or social media." NHL licensees Old Time Hockey, Reebok and VF are producing “Because It’s The Cup” apparel, and the NHL and NBC stores in N.Y., along with those of league partners Bob’s Stores, Canadian Tire, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lids, Modell’s and Sports Chalet, "will feature playoff point-of-sale advertising" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/12 issue).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Following Penske Racing's announcement it would drop Dodge for Ford, Dodge President & CEO Ralph Gilles said that the company has “no plans to leave the sport and hopes to have its 2013 Sprint Cup lineup primarily solidified by mid-summer,” according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Dodge yesterday unveiled its ‘13 Sprint Cup car, but with Penske’s departure from the brand, Dodge “has no organizations signed” for next season. Gilles said, “We’re activating (with marketing displays) at 19 races versus six last year. We’re actually investing in NASCAR more than ever. Some of this timing was unfortunate. … The momentum doesn’t go that way (of us leaving). We’d love to stay if we could. But we’ve got to figure it out.” He added of Penske’s move, “It was unexpected, to be honest with you, but we’re ready for it. We’ve been knocked down a few times in our history and we’ve come back.” Team Owner Roger Penske in announcing the move March 1 to Ford starting in ’13 said that “one of the keys to the deal was Ford’s ability for a longer-term deal.” Gilles said that Dodge “wouldn’t offer Penske a five-year deal.” He said that he was “not sure how many teams Dodge would want in 2013 and whether it would continue having one flagship team and a group of partially supported organizations” (SCENEDAILY.com, 3/11). In Charlotte, Jim Utter notes Dodge at yesterday’s Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas “took the cover off its new model Dodge Charger which it will use in the 2013 Sprint Cup season with much fanfare.” The car “as expected … looks very similar to its production model brother -- which has been the goal for the manufacturers and NASCAR” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/12).
NOT SHYING AWAY: Gilles said, "We could have decided not to show the 2013 car and walk away, but we don’t shy away from these things and we’re very excited about the new car. It’s got a lot of potential. The feedback is good. NASCAR’s happy with it so ... it’s a reset and we’re going to look at our options.” Gilles said continuing to support Robby Gordon Motorsports and possibly reuniting with Richard Petty Motorsports “are on our list of options” for Dodge going forward and “our phone has actually been ringing pretty steadily” ("Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain,” Speed, 3/11).
IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today announced a partnership with DreamWorks Animation SKG for the company’s upcoming animated feature film “Turbo,” which is scheduled to be released on July 19, 2013. “Turbo” is the story of a garden snail’s dream to win the Indy 500. (IndyCar). DAILY VARIETY’s Stuart Levine notes the film is “directed by David Soren and co-starring voice-actors Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Maya Rudolph.” The project shows IndyCar's entertainment division is “looking to expand its reach in Hollywood.” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg first approached IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard in ‘10 to “see how the two might join forces, and from that meeting the inclusion of the Indy 500 into the ‘Turbo’ script was born” (VARIETY.com, 3/12). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Tripp Mickle notes DreamWorks “cut a licensing agreement” with IndyCar and IMS to feature the race in the film and it also “plans to feature several IndyCar Series cars, drivers and sponsors.” In exchange for allowing DreamWorks to feature the race, IndyCar execs “expect to benefit from the exposure and marketing around the film.” DreamWorks is “expected to spend as much as $100 million marketing and promoting the film.” Driver Dario Franchitti is “a technical adviser for the movie” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/12 issue). Bernard said that DreamWorks “secured rights to use the racing group’s trademarked names and images by agreeing to buy an undisclosed amount of ad time on its broadcasts and at racing venues" (DEADLINE.com, 3/12).
Charlotte-based Presbyterian Healthcare on Friday became the first company to sign a Bobcats’ team sponsorship deal in addition to an endorsement deal with Owner Michael Jordan, and the re-signing of the hospital “gives the team an important corporate renewal during what has been a dreary season on the court,” according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Bobcats have the worst record in the NBA at 5-34, but, “so far, major backers are sticking with the franchise and Jordan.” Presbyterian by renewing the team partnership “keeps the naming rights to the Bobcats training facility,” part of the city-owned $265M Time Warner Cable Arena opened in ‘05. Other aspects include “providing medical care for all Bobcats players, coaches and employees, emergency treatment for spectators at all arena events and a community caravan co-sponsored by the team to treat the uninsured.” Team Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Pete Guelli said that sponsorship revenue in total “has increased 30 percent over the last three years.” Spanberg noted about “100 companies have corporate alliances with the team” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/9 issue). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell noted Presbyterian has held naming rights to the practice court for several years, and the Bobcats also announced Friday that “longtime team physician Dr. Glenn Perry would continue in that role under Presbyterian's new sponsorship agreement” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/10).
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win the world championships, “could alter the country’s current indifference to figure skating, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics, as sponsors begin to focus on finding their future athletic stars,” according to Jennifer Conlin in the style section of the N.Y. TIMES. The pair won the Silver Medal at the ’10 Vancouver Games, and “have their minds set on bringing home the gold” at the ‘14 Sochi Games. Many think the team might “finally bring the American figure skating world out of a lull that began the moment one Olympic champion, Michelle Kwan, hung up her skates.” Not only are the two “at the top of their sport, but they have the youthful good looks and easy assurance that would likely make them a marketer’s dream.” But so far they “have not been able to break through the public consciousness and evolve into crossover stars like such other winter Olympians as Bode Miller.” Designers Management Agency President Marc Beckman said, “This is an amazingly marketable couple who are talented. But to get endorsements they need to have a story to tell that helps them emotionally connect with the American Public.” He added, “I have never heard of them, and that is in itself a problem as they have won an Olympic medal. Clearly their agents or managers are not doing enough. It is not their sport that is unpopular, it is more about building a brand for them, and a platform.” IMG Olympic Clients Manager Hailey Ohnuki, who reps the pair, agrees that White and Davis are “probably not as well known as they should be, but says it is not for lack of trying, particularly when it comes to social media.” Ohnuki said that Davis is “active on Twitter, and that the skaters have a Facebook fan page.” Ohnuki: “They have no large endorsements at this point because it is a challenging time in the economy. But after the Summer Olympics we plan to get them out there more. They care about literacy issues and kids’ nutrition, so we try to reach out to companies who care about those issues as well.” Conlin noted one “recent chance to possibly enhance their public image -- or at least increase their exposure -- was left untaken.” White said, “ESPN asked us to pose nude for their ‘Body’ issue” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/11).
GOLF WORLD MONDAY’s E. Michael Johnson reports TaylorMade “continued its marketing push for its RocketBallz line of clubs this past week by having seven players don ‘jerseys’ -- complete with their names on the back -- and hats emblazoned with the number 17 prior to the final round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship” yesterday. Golfers Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia “wore the shirts during play” yesterday, though the others were “told to change, as the apparel didn’t comply with tour regulations.” A TaylorMade spokesperson called it a “miscommunication by both parties” (GOLFWORLDMONDAY.com, 3/12).
KNIGHT MOVES: ESPN college basketball analyst Bob Knight appears in a new State Farm ad called “State of Intimidation” that debuted last night during CBS’ “The Selection Show” broadcast. The ad begins with a State Farm agent looking uneasy and possibly frightened as he assists Knight, with the agent saying, “So Mr., uhhh, coach Knight, I did a ‘Discount Double Check’ and combed through your policies and found you hundreds in savings.” Knight leans in and with his trademark sneer and said, “Well, thank you for that.” Looking unsure and a bit confused, the agent said, “So you’re happy?” Knight then shouts angrily, “Don’t I look happy!!” Knight then walked out of the State Farm office and it’s revealed the other workers in the office had been hiding under their desks while Knight was there, all looking rather relieved he is gone. But unexpectedly, Knight pops his head in the office once more and almost cheerfully says, “Hey! Thanks again.” This sends the office workers diving under their desks once again (THE DAILY).
OUT OF WOODS: In Tampa, Rodney Page noted the four-year contract for Transitions Optical to title sponsor the PGA tournament at Innisbrook “runs out after this year, and it will not renew.” Tiger Woods announced that he will not play at the event this week and Page wondered if Transitions wishes “Woods would have come to Palm Harbor just once?” Transitions COO Dave Cole said, "While the draw of Tiger is appealing, it doesn't make or break this tournament. We get a great field every year. No matter what, it's a great platform for us.” He added, "Of course it would be nice to have the draw. But it's a great tournament in and of itself” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/11).
IN THE HUNT: In Dallas, Steve Hunt notes MLS FC Dallas is “currently without a sponsor for either the front of its jersey or stadium," something team Owner Clark Hunt discussed during halftime of the club’s home game against the Red Bulls yesterday. Hunt said, “We’re in discussions with a variety of companies. Nothing is imminent at this point, though.” There is “currently no timeframe for naming a sponsor." Hunt: “They’re sort of your signature brand, your hero brand. So finding a company that meshes with us well culturally is very important.” In most cases, the stadium and jersey sponsorships are “sold separately, but Dallas would be receptive to a package deal.” Hunt said, “If the right company came along that wanted to take both, that would be something we’d be open to” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/12).