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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Danica Patrick currently sits 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings in her first full year in the series, but she “is seemingly everywhere, making headlines and attracting attention for a host of high-paying sponsors,” according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. Television ratings for the Nationwide Series “are up, and many believe she has made an impact.” That, along with her “wide marketing appeal, makes her move to NASCAR a success.” Neither the “mediocre performance on the track nor the polarizing reaction of fans … matters off the track.” Joyce Julius & Associates indicated that Patrick's appearance in this year's Daytona 500, her Sprint Cup debut, generated $11.8M "in TV exposure for her sponsors," compared with $11.6M for race winner Matt Kenseth. Pockrass noted Coca-Cola execs, who signed Patrick to a new sponsorship deal early this month, “care very little about Patrick’s initial results on the track.” They care that she "connects with males between the ages of 18 and 34, the key demographic of their Coke Zero marketing campaign.” A series of videos featuring Patrick “spiked traffic by 33 percent on Nationwide’s Facebook page during the racing offseason.” Coca-Cola Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Sharon Byers said, “She’s just right now at the top of pop culture. Any discussions you hear on and off the track, Danica Patrick comes into all of those discussions.” Motorsports Authentics VP Chris Williams noted that at tracks where Patrick raced last year, “her trackside merchandise sales ranked easily in the top 10." Pockrass noted she "consistently ranks sixth or seventh in at-track sales behind the top five” of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Patrick’s merchandise sales “are split, with 68 percent among males and 32 percent among females.” Her No. 7 Nationwide car merchandise sales also “have increased by 60 percent this year” (, 5/23).

SOME GIRLS HAVE ALL THE LUCK: Pockrass in a separate piece noted Patrick “uses everything at her disposal to attract sponsors and market her image.” Part of that includes “having the best finish of any woman ever” in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Nationwide Series. But it also includes “appearing twice in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, posing for Maxim and several suggestive Go Daddy commercials.” Pockrass asked, “Would companies and race teams be attracted to her if she were a he?” IMG Senior VP/Business Innovation Mark Dyer said, “I don’t even know how to respond to that because Danica is Danica. The reason IMG is involved with her is that she is a sports celebrity that transcends the sport that she’s in.” Patrick: “I’m a girl, and to say that I can’t use being a girl doesn’t make any sense. In this world, there is so much competition out there and you have to use ... everything that you have to make sponsors happy, to attract them and to be unique and different” (, 5/23).

Nike is "looking to expand its reach further in the international Olympic world, including a possible sponsorship deal with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro," according to Stephen Wilson of the AP. Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said, "We've always focused on the athlete. The misperception might be that we don't spend time with the federations or the organizing committees or things like that. This is an opportunity at this event to engage with them more directly on a broader scale." Nike has "dozens of agreements with national and international governing bodies, including federations in China, Brazil, Russia and Qatar." The U.S. Olympic basketball and track & field teams that will compete at the London Games "also are backed by Nike". Benson said, "We look at the Summer Games as one of the biggest opportunities we have to introduce new products and technologies." While adidas is an official sponsor of the London Games, Denson "confirmed Nike is interested in becoming the sponsor" for '16, the first Olympics in South America. Denson: "We don't have anything in place yet and we never comment on ongoing conversations. We have great relationships in Brazil. We're always interested in whatever types of relationships we can engage in" (AP, 5/23).

In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe writes the marketing of Penguins C Evgeni Malkin for the cover of EA Sports' "NHL 13" video game "has served as a fun endeavor following the team's surprisingly early dismissal from the postseason." Penguins VP/Communications Tom McMillan said, "Our staff has had a lot of fun with it. And the fans clearly are having fun with it, too." Recent videos on the Penguins' website have showcased Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and players Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams "offering support for Malkin" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/24). Malkin is facing off against Flyers RW Claude Giroux in one semifinal, while Islanders F John Tavares will face Predators G Pekka Rinne in the other. Voting remains open until Monday (THE DAILY).

SUPER SIGNING: In New Orleans, Nakia Hogan notes the Super Bowl XLVII Host Committee yesterday "announced Chevron as one of its major corporate sponsors." The company will serve as the committee's volunteer services partner. Officials with Chevron, the Host Committee and the Saints said that they are "also kicking off a drive to find 8,000 volunteers" for Super Bowl XLVII, set for Feb. 3 (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/24).

THE CATS' MEOW: The Univ. of Arizona football team "will take the field this fall with a new look that harkens to the state's mining past." UA AD Greg Byrne said that the team will "wear copper helmets as part of an alternate uniform." Byrne "wouldn't say when the UA will debut the new look." He said that UA will "primarily stick to their color scheme, which includes navy and white helmets." The school "did not consider any darker tones" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 5/24).

BEER ME: In Detroit, Kirkland Crawford writes even on the "downside of his NBA career, Tracy McGrady is still making commercials." In a spot for Chinese TV, McGrady is the star for an ad for Sedrin, "the official beer of the NBA in the Far East." Crawford writes the spot is "maybe the most off-the-wall 30 seconds of video we've ever seen" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/24).