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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Fifth Third Bancorp yesterday announced a multiyear marketing partnership with Roush Fenway Racing that begins this season with the bank serving as a primary sponsor of the team's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 17 Ford driven by Matt Kenseth for four races. Below are the races in which the bank will serve as primary sponsor (Fifth Third Bancorp).

Sprint All Star Race Charlotte Motor Speedway May 19
Quaker State 400 Kentucky Speedway June 30
Crown Royal's "Your Hero's Name Here" Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 29
Pure Michigan 400 Michigan Int'l Speedway August 19

YOUR AD HERE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports Fifth Third "has the option to change the races it sponsors" in '13 and '14. While financial terms of the agreement were not available, sources said that RFR "has been seeking $400,000 a race for Kenseth." Mickle notes it "would put the deal in the low seven figures." RFR "recently began using Fifth Third to provide some of its banking needs." However, team and bank execs said that the deal "wasn’t connected to the banking relationship." The deal with Fifth Third is the "second sponsor Roush has signed for the No. 17 car since the start of the Sprint Cup season." The team "signed a four-race deal with Zest soap earlier in the year," and also added "single-race agreements with Valvoline, Fastenal and Ford." But the No. 17 car "still needs sponsorship for a dozen races this season." The amount of open inventory on Kenseth’s car "has been a cause of concern for many in the NASCAR industry." Kenseth, who was NASCAR’s champion in '03, won this year’s Daytona 500 and stood second in the Sprint Cup standings going into last weekend (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/14 issue).

CLOSING THE GAP: RFR President Steve Newmark said that interest “has increased for Kenseth since his win in the 2012 Daytona 500, and he has about eight to 10 races left to sell” for ‘12. But SPORTING NEWS’ Bob Pockrass noted the focus “has shifted” for ‘13. Newmark said, “Obviously we’d love to have these guys continue to expand and be an anchor partner with Matt. I think that’s what they want to do as well. But our situation with Matt is not contingent in any stretch of the imagination on what any particular sponsor does.” RFR co-Owner Jack Roush said, “We’re just fine with Kenseth for next year. The program doesn’t have as much sponsorship sold as we need to sell, but there’s never a question about whether or not we have got the wherewithal and the commitment to stay with Matt Kenseth” (, 5/14).

Burger King yesterday announced a sponsorship deal that makes it USA Basketball's official QSR. Burger King will introduce commemorative cups to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the '92 Dream Team, highlighting the '92, '96, '00, '08 and '12 squads. Each of the cups will feature jersey designs from one of the teams. The QSR and USA Basketball also will partner for the "Your Team. Your Voice." campaign, which includes interactive digital elements like selecting which jersey the team will wear in a July 12 exhibition (Burger King). Meanwhile, Sunkist Soda and 7UP formally announced that they have partnered with USA Basketball to become its official soft drink partner. Collectible cans will pair members of the ‘92 Dream Team with soda brands. Basketball HOFers Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Scottie Pippen will be featured on Sunkist, 7UP, A&W root beer, Canada Dry and Sun Drop soft drink cans, respectively, during a summer-long promotion for the USA Men’s National Team. Sunkist will also give fans opportunities to watch the USA Basketball Men’s National Team as they play in Las Vegas and Barcelona, as well as interact with USA Basketball alumni, including Dream Team members. The Sunkist fans that win the trip to Barcelona will also experience a presentation celebrating the Dream Team’s debut in the same city where it first won the Olympic Gold Medal 20 years ago. The limited-edition cans become available today at retailers nationwide (Sunkist).

Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning announced that it will serve as the official merchandise supplier for the Red Bull King of the Rock basketball championship in S.F. The company will provide the official game jerseys for all U.S. qualifying events as well as specially designed head-to-toe gear for the final competitors on Alcatraz Island. The company will also design and sell exclusive branded Red Bull King of the Rock merchandise at select qualifier events in the U.S. and online starting this month (Li-Ning). BRAND CHANNEL’s Abe Sauer noted Li-Ning is co-sponsoring the event, giving the company “an opportunity to regroup and take another shot at a US market in which the brand has met a little success and a lot of setbacks.” The brand’s new U.S. strategy is “using a unique method to get its foothold, selling purely online in the U.S. while maintaining no retail locations -- in contrast to China, where it operates more than 8,000 stores.” Li-Ning U.S. VP/Marketing, Sales & Merchandise Craig Heisner said the biggest challenge for Li-Ning in the U.S. market is "establishing momentum through trial with relevant products that address the needs of a performance-based consumer." Sauer noted in addition to “wooing American sneaker-heads and hoops fans, Li-Ning is already looking beyond the NBA and King of the Rock to the summer Olympic games in London,” where the brand “claims an impressive stable of global talent.” However, Li-Ning’s lone U.S. Olympian is triple jumper Christian Taylor (, 5/14).

Golfer Rickie Fowler followed up his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship with a second-place finish at The Players last weekend, and the sport "hasn't seen a character this magnetic in years," according to Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman. With his "hip, flat-brimmed cap worn as much backwards as it is forward, Fowler's cutting edge style has taken the Tour by storm." Tilghman: "His peers respect him, kids adore him, young girls love him, parents want to adopt him. The colorful Rickie Fowler is the rage.” Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo said the 23-year-old Fowler has “completely energized” the sport of golf. There is a "touch of Justin Bieber and Johnny Depp when you look at him." Fowler rode dirt bikes growing up, and he has that "fall down, dust yourself off and get up attitude." Nobilo: "Consequently, he's getting a huge fan base, plus the colorful garb. Golf has become staid over the last few years. He's given it that injection in color” (“Golf Central Live,” NBC, 5/13). GOLF WORLD's Ron Sirak wrote it was “clear evidence” during The Players that Fowler is “one of the most popular players on the tour, especially among kids, who were everywhere sporting Rickie-style flat-brim hats in a multitude of bright colors.” Fowler said, “I love seeing it, especially the little kids running around with my hat on that is kind of flopping around, slightly large for them. I get a laugh out of it and feel honored when 40- and 50-year-old guys are cruising around in all orange” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 5/14).

In Portland, Erik Siemers noted Nike celebrated Heat F LeBron James’ third NBA MVP “by anointing him ‘Employee of the Year’ in a new ad released over the weekend.” Nike also “used the opportunity to release a special edition LeBron 9 basketball shoe dubbed the MVP in Miami’s colors of red, black and yellow.” The shoe features an “MVP logo on the heel and trophies printed on the sockliner.” Nike said that “a limited number will hit the market next month” (, 5/14).

LIFE'S A BEACH:'s John Clarke Jr. noted Loudmouth has signed a four-year deal to dress the U.S. gold medal-winning men's beach volleyball team of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers for the London Games. The company in '10 "sponsored the Norwegian men’s curling team at the Olympic Winter Games" in Vancouver. Loudmouth CEO Larry Jackson said, “They were in front of millions of eyeballs." Clarke added the orders started "flooding [in] and the company was caught by surprise since the team agreed to wear the gear less than one week before the Games" (, 5/14).

FREE FALLIN': Former NFLer Trevor Pryce appeared on ESPN2’s “Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable” last night and was asked him, “Above all else, what would you say you missed about football?” Pryce: “The thing I miss most is my Nike deal.” Pryce said getting free shoes from Nike “is the greatest perk of the NFL.” Pryce: “Forget the paycheck, free Nike stuff. … Nike will give you a secure website and you get to pick like whatever you want.” Pryce said that every time “we lost and I was depressed, I’d just get like 10 pairs of sneakers and some socks and I’d feel better about myself.” After he retired from the league, access to the website is shutoff. Pryce called it the “saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life” (“Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 5/14).

Brewers LF Ryan Braun “appears to have parted ways with CytoSport," which makes sports-oriented nutritional products and supplements. It “could not be determined when Braun stopped working with the company.” Braun's name “has been removed” from the firm's website (, 5/14)....Citgo recently launched "Boston's Greatest Moments Under the Sign 'Good Moments Make Great Memories'" campaign with sports radio WEEI to celebrate Fenway Park’s 100-year anniversary. Baseball fans each week can submit their picture from under the Citgo sign and have the chance to win a $50 Citgo Gift Card (Citgo).