Coke Zero today will announce a new sponsorship deal with Danica Patrick that “will take her into an arena that has remained relatively untapped by the popular NASCAR driver,” according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Patrick will sign a multiyear deal to join the Coca-Cola Racing Family, becoming the "first driver affiliated with a sole brand in the program’s 14-year history.” The move aligns Patrick “with a brand that easily becomes the most iconic and mainstream in her portfolio.” Patrick has been featured “heavily in national commercial campaigns” for sponsors like GoDaddy.com and Peak Performance automotive products, but those brands "don’t have the retail reach" of Coca-Cola. IMG Senior VP/Business Innovation Mark Dyer said that demand for "point-of-purchase promotional material featuring Patrick was strong from stores that stocked Coke.” Dyer: “It’s the first time Danica will go to retail with a strong consumer product.” Univ. of Southern California Sports Business Institute Exec Dir David Carter said that while the move “won’t have a noticeable effect on the track … she could be in line for an even bigger boost in name recognition.” The deal could be viewed as a "competitive marketing coup for Coke, too.” The company adds Patrick to an endorsement lineup that already includes driver Tony Stewart. Patrick said that Coke Zero was “planning commercials with her creative input." Coca-Cola will donate "to her charities every time she drinks a Coke on TV” (USA TODAY, 5/10). ESPN.com's David Newton notes one of Patrick's first promo appearances will be at the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend "to promote the adventure movie 'Battleship' with one of the movie's stars, Brooklyn Decker." In addition to deals with GoDaddy.com and Peak Performance, Patrick also has endorsement deals with Nationwide Insurance, Tissot, Chevrolet, William Rast clothing and Hot Wheels (ESPN.com, 5/10).
A GOOD FIT: Patrick said the partnership is a “win-win from both fronts hopefully." Patrick: "I’m very honored to be with Coca-Cola and in specific, Coke Zero. Their saying is ‘Have It All,’ and I believe that too. I feel like I really am having it all. ... I feel very flattered and I appreciate all the help that Tony Stewart had in putting it together because he’s been a Coke guy for a long time. As I heard from a lot of people, this is a relationship that goes on for a long time” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/10).
The Heat have wrapped the "trunks of 16 royal palms in front of the publicly owned AmericanAirlines Arena ... with ads for Kumho tires," despite the Miami Commission two weeks ago dismissing a measure "that could have allowed advertising banners to be placed on trees," according to Andres Viglucci of the MIAMI HERALD. City code enforcement officers prior to Game Five of the Heat-Knicks NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series last night "ordered the team to take down the white banners." The signs "carry the slogan 'DRIVE to the CHAMPIONSHIP' printed sideways above the image of a car tire and a Heat flaming-basketball logo." Miami-Dade County owns the arena, and the city of Miami is "supposed to enforce the ... sign ordinance inside its own borders." Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo said that the team "could be fined if the banners aren't gone by Thursday, ... though the city prefers to achieve compliance first." However, the Heat have "refused to take the signs down." Heat Dir of Marketing Communications & Advertising Lorrie-Ann Diaz said that the team "would remove the 'sponsorship message' from the banners but leave them up 'until the end of the playoff run' while applying for a permit." Bravo said that she was "uncertain whether the tree banners without an advertising component would be permissible on the arena property itself." She added that she believes "draping banners over palms on the public sidewalk is not" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/10).
P&G's Febreze brand is making its Olympic sponsorship debut with a new ad campaign featuring the "wrestling team from Azerbaijan," according to Andrew Adam Newman of the N.Y. TIMES. The campaign includes a new TV commercial that "shows four unitard-clad members of the team ... wrestling and lifting weights in a shabby London gym." A voice-over in the spot says, "We did a Febreze experiment with the Azerbaijani wrestling team. Can Febreze Air Effects defeat the smelly air in their gym for good?" When the subjects in the ad "are told to remove their blindfolds, they are shocked and amused." The commercial was produced by Grey Group, N.Y. and "will begin showing internationally on July 1." Online-only videos featuring the wrestlers "began appearing on the brand's Facebook page" yesterday. Grey Global Exec Creative Dir Per Pedersen said that after "settling on the idea of featuring athletes in the blindfold-experiment videos, the agency considered which athletes were most rank." Pedersen: "It was between weight lifting and wrestling, but weight lifting is just a short explosion of activity." Pedersen said that although the wrestlers represent a rival country, "they will resonate with American consumers." He said, "We don’t expect you to cheer for the Azerbaijani team -- it’s not that kind of sponsorship. These guys are brought in because they represent a sport that has the biggest odor challenge of the Olympics" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/10).
HITCHING THEIR WAGON TO A STAR? MARKETING magazine's Gemma Charles noted several brands who are not sponsors of the London Games are "stepping up efforts to run sports-themed ad campaigns ahead of the forthcoming Olympics marketing blackout period." Subway and FedEx, "whose competitors McDonald’s and UPS are official Games sponsors, unveiled multimillion-pound campaigns" in the U.K. Subway's campaign, which launched yesterday across TV, outdoor, digital and social media, features Great Britian pole-vaulter Holly Bleasdale and boxer Anthony Ogogo. FedEx later this month "plans to run a heavyweight press campaign and unveil a digital platform, as part of a partnership with SportsAid." Subway Dir of Marketing Manaaz Akhtar "denied that the athletes activity was ambush marketing." He said that it was "a long-term programme and not timed around the Olympics" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 5/9).
The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers are launching the league's "first scratch lottery program" in an "effort to boost revenues," according to Ken Wiebe of the WINNIPEG SUN. The promo features 750,000 C$5 tickets and offers buyers the "opportunity to win one of two [C]$100,000 cash prizes, along with an opportunity to enter an online contest that offers a chance to win merchandise or 12 unique fan experiences." Blue Bombers President & CEO Garth Buchko said, "We've said right from the beginning, from when the stadium was being built, that we needed to generate multiple revenue streams and this is just one of them." Buchko did not disclose the length of the deal with the Manitoba Lotteries, though he said that it "would be ongoing for the foreseeable future" (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/10). Buchko "wouldn't get into specifics on how much money the club stands to raise" with the partnership. He said, "Right now we're not going to announce what that total is. It will be in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars if we sell out the lottery" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/10). A total of 25 NFL teams have had lottery deals in the last three years (THE DAILY).
LiftMaster, an associate sponsor of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Tuesday brought in Charlotte-area fire departments for a skills competition. The winner, Albemarle Fire Department, won a garage door system overhaul for its department. LiftMaster, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of commercial door operating systems, is sponsoring Charlotte Motor Speedway's pole day on May 24 before the Coca-Cola 600, and it plans to give 4,500 tickets to regional firefighters that day. The company also will have a parade lap featuring area fire trucks. LiftMaster has 75% market share in the commercial door operating system market, but it is trying to expand its sales to fire departments. In their haste to respond to calls, firefighters are prone to drive through their garage doors, but LiftMaster has developed a lighting system that shows a green light when the garage doors are clear and the truck is free to go. LiftMaster Sponsorship Manager Neal Villarin said, "We're using the motorsports platform as a megaphone to reach that group [firefighters] and educate them about what we offer. Many have LiftMaster products but don't know we can add accessories and packages to give them the peace of mind that they're not going to [go] through their doors."
Vita Coco yesterday announced that MLB Rangers CF Josh Hamilton has agreed to an endorsement deal with the coconut water brand. Hamilton will join Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia and surfer Kelly Slater on the brand's athlete endorsement roster. He will be featured prominently in Vita Coco's U.S. marketing campaign, including billboard, radio, digital and in-store advertising, as well as social media and PR programs beginning this summer (Vita Coco).
Fowler’s Puma caps come in nine colors, and
are in high demand with young golf fans
RUN, RICKIE, RUN: PGA Tour Merchandise & Retail Manager Patrick Velasquez said that he “ordered eight boxes of the Puma ‘Rickie Fowler’ caps and they’re going fast” ahead of the The Players this week. Velasquez: “I expect them to sell out. As long as he’s in the top 20, we will probably sell about 250 to 300 hats. If he doesn’t make the cut, we might have a few left, but I don’t think that will be the case this week.” Velasquez added the hats are “definitely the hottest item on the shelf right now.” PGATOUR.com’s Michael Curet noted while Fowler is “partial to orange, each of the nine color varieties seems to be equally popular among the fans” (PGATOUR.com, 5/9).
WELCOME TO MOE’S! Major League Lacrosse yesterday announced that Moe’s Southwest Grille will be the official presenting sponsor of the ’12 MLL All-Star Game on June 30 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. The company’s logo will be prominently displayed on team uniforms, field signage board, video board commercials and in-stadium banners (MLL).
SERVICE GAME: Atlanta-based software and e-commerce services provider Ebix has signed a multiyear global partnership with tennis player John Isner, making him a brand ambassador effective immediately. Isner will wear an Ebix-branded patch on his right sleeve as part of the deal. The company will also title sponsor Isner’s annual charity event (Ebix).
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