Roush Fenway Racing yesterday announced that NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth “will be leaving the organization at the end of the season,” one of the “biggest driver-team moves in recent NASCAR history,” according to Mike Hembree of SPEEDTV.com. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who currently competes on the Nationwide circuit, will “move up to replace Kenseth at the Sprint Cup level next season.” There was “immediate speculation” that Kenseth, who won the Daytona 500 in February, will be joining Joe Gibbs Racing next season. The team did not comment on the rumors. Yesterday’s moves are “stunning” because Kenseth has been with RFR since his rookie season in ‘00 and was “widely expected to finish his career with the team.” Although it “seems odd that Kenseth would decide to leave RFR while leading the Sprint Cup points, the organization has had more than its share of sponsorship problems recently, and that might have played a role in Kenseth’s decision” (SPEEDTV.com, 6/26). USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan notes JGR “hasn‘t committed to Joey Logano for next season but could move Kenseth into Logano’s fully sponsored Toyota next year while trying to find sponsorship for a fourth car to keep Logano.” Since losing Crown Royal as a sponsor after last season, RFR has “struggled to find sponsorship” for Kenseth. A “patchwork of companies covered funding for most of this season, but it should be easier next year with a smaller budget from Stenhouse making a fraction of what Kenseth can command.” Stenhouse “earns low to mid six-figures,” while the price tag for a proven winner “usually starts at a base salary" of $6M annually. Meanwhile, considering that RFR has invested millions of dollars in often running Stenhouse and '11 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne "in unsponsored Nationwide cars ... Tuesday's decision begins to make more sense” (USA TODAY, 6/27).
MONEY TALKS: RFR President Steve Newmark said sponsorship issues “really wasn’t a factor” in Kenseth leaving. Newmark: “It’s more of a reflection of just the way Roush Fenway has built itself and that Jack has always placed an emphasis on driver development and Matt has been the beneficiary of that.” However, ESPN's Dale Jarrett said the move from Kenseth to Stenhouse “is financial” because Stenhouse “is not going to be paid what Matt Kenseth was going to." Jarrett: "You have to believe that money was involved at some point in time here” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 6/26). ESPN.com’s Terry Blount wrote the "sad truth in NASCAR today" is no matter "how good a driver is, even a former champion who leads the standings, it won't save him if he doesn't have a sponsor.” RFR Owner Jack Roush, “with some help from Ford, has been footing the bill out of his own pocket.” That gets “old, and empty, in a hurry at the Cup level,” but this "just looks awful.” Kenseth is a “quiet man, with a surprising dry wit that he shows every now and then, but he's not exactly a walking billboard for potential sponsors.” It may be “easier for the RFR marketing department to sell a handsome, young, single guy like Stenhouse to corporate America than it is a milquetoast old dad like Kenseth” (ESPN.com, 6/26).
Web.com, an online marketing and web design service, will immediately replace Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor of the PGA Tour’s developmental tour. Web.com, based in Jacksonville, just 20 miles from the PGA Tour’s Ponte Vedra HQs, will assume sponsorship today, meaning this week’s event in Newburgh, Ind., will be the first on the Web.com Tour. Nationwide had been the umbrella sponsor since ‘02, but the insurance company told the Tour in late ‘10 that it would end its sponsorship when the contract ran out at the end of the ‘12 season, or earlier if the PGA Tour found a replacement. Web.com, which represents new money coming into the sport in a nontraditional category, was willing to take over the sponsorship immediately and industry sources say the company’s spend will range from $10-13M per year over the 10-year term of the contract. Web.com’s activation will be centered around a heavy advertising spend on Golf Channel, which broadcasts all Web.com Tour events, and on-the-ground workshops designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses with their online marketing efforts. Web.com CEO David Brown said the company intends to put “staff in every local market” that hosts tournaments. “We need a big footprint to talk to all 3 million of our customers and entertain them,” Brown said. An early idea is to have staff go to all or many of the 27 Web.com Tour events and conduct workshops for business owners. CMO Jason Teichman characterized it as “a moving infrastructure of people who will set up shop” at Web.com Tour events, invite local business leaders and show them “the resources they need to” market themselves online. The deal also gives Web.com extensive hospitality at both Web.com Tour and PGA Tour events. The company has a sponsorship presence with the Jaguars, but otherwise has not marketed itself through sports before. CAA Sports’ golf division is representing Web.com on the deal.
GOLF-THEMED ADVERTISING IN THE WORKS: Web.com already works with a creative agency -- R2C, Portland -- on its TV advertising, and Teichman said a new phase of golf-themed advertising is in the works. He said there are not currently plans to sign any of the PGA Tour pros as endorsers, but the company looks forward to working with many of the players on their online strategy. “Part of our analysis through this process was to look at the top 50 tour players as a small business entity and evaluate ways they could optimize their online marketing presence. “Many of the top 50 players don’t have a website,” Teichman said. “Many of them don’t have a Facebook page or they’re not on Twitter. Some have none of that. Each player is a small business and they need an online marketing presence. We want to help them be successful.”
Royal Bank of Scotland has “cancelled its corporate hospitality at Wimbledon in the wake of the IT meltdown which left thousands of customers without access to cash,” according to the London TELEGRAPH. The bank, which indicated that it is “finally getting on top of the crisis, said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to continue providing the hospitality.” RBS had “already hosted clients for the first two days of the championships and had planned to do so” for the rest of the tournament. The bank “declined to divulge how much money it had planned to spend on hospitality” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 6/27). In London, Moore-Bridger & Bhatia noted around 300 clients "have been told they can no longer come to the All England Club after RBS CEO Stephen Hester ordered the corporate hospitality to stop.” Sources said that the decision “came ‘from the top’ after he realised the entertaining had carried on for two days despite customers still having difficulties accessing money.” The RBS corporate suite next to Court 1 yesterday “was empty following the bank’s announcement” (London EVENING STANDARD, 6/26). RBS also has “cancelled plans for a prestigious corporate event” at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland that included a golf lesson with HOFer Jack Nicklaus. It remains unclear “whether the event with Nicklaus, who enjoyed a long-standing relationship with RBS, will be rescheduled” (SCOTSMAN, 6/27).
MLS FC Dallas introduced AdvoCare as its jersey sponsor at a press conference this morning. AdvoCare is a Texas-based health and wellness company that offers energy, weight-loss, nutrition and sports performance products. “Our ultimate goal was to find the perfect partner,” said FC Dallas President & CEO Doug Quinn. “I think we found them, especially since they are North Texas-based.” The team said the deal was a “multi-million dollar, multiyear partnership,” but would not disclose further details. Quinn had said last year the FC Dallas jersey sponsorship was valued at $3.2M per year. Chicago-based Navigate Marketing made valuations for the club. As part of the deal, AdvoCare is also sponsoring the jerseys of the more than 200 teams in the youth academy programs of FC Dallas. AdvoCare will also have a “major presence” in FC Dallas Stadium and in team media and promotional initiatives, according to the club. AdvoCare President & CEO Richard Wright said this is the company’s first major sponsorship with a professional sports franchise. FC Dallas will debut its new AdvoCare jerseys when it hosts Toronto FC in its next game on July 4. Next up on the team’s to-do list: a naming-rights partnership for its unsponsored stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Earthquakes, Rapids and Sporting KC remain the only MLS clubs without shirt sponsors.
The NFL Cardinals yesterday announced a multiyear deal with Hyundai in which the automaker will become the presenting sponsor of the team's training camp. Hyundai's presence will include vehicle displays, signage and promotional and hospitality opportunities. The deal also includes the placement of a Hyundai logo on Cardinals practice jerseys throughout the year, marking the team's first such deal. In addition to marketing aspects, Hyundai will receive naming rights to the Hyundai Great Lawn Entertainment Stage at Univ. of Phoenix Stadium. Hyundai plans to activate in the area with interactive vehicle displays and fan promos. It also will receive naming rights to the stadium's Gate 1. The Cardinals join the Steelers as the only two teams with whom Hyundai has an NFL partnership (Cardinals).
MARKETING magazine’s John Reynolds reports McDonald's unveiled details of its U.K. Olympic and Paralympic campaign, which will be called “We All Make The Games.” The campaign will “involve guerrilla film crews and a TV campaign that will celebrate the people and moments of the games.” McDonald’s said that it is spending US$15.6M on the campaign, which “will run for 10 weeks over the summer.” Unlike “many of the other Olympic sponsors, McDonald’s has chosen to launch its big campaign close to the start of the Olympics," which begin a month from today. The campaign will “run in three phases -- outdoor and TV, guerrilla film crews, and the use of clips, images and comments to celebrate the people who made the Olympics.” The TV ad “has been created by Leo Burnett" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 6/27).
RECORD PLAYER: CBSSPORTS.com’s Bryan Fischer cited a source as saying that U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton, who set a new world record of 9,039 points last weekend at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., is “getting paid $750,000” by Nike as a bonus for achieving the record. Fischer: “Given that Olympians are not the highest paid athletes in the world, that's a lot of dough” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/26). Meanwhile, Eaton on Sunday appeared at a Safeway location in Eugene and at the Trials Fan Festival "on behalf of sponsor Powerade" (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 6/25).
BOLTED OFF: CAMPAIGN LIVE’s Sarah Shearman notes Virgin Media has been “rapped by the ad watchdog for two online ads featuring [Jamaican sprinter] Usain Bolt as Richard Branson, after BSkyB challenged its broadband speed claims.” A message on Virgin Media's website "featured Bolt delivering 'a message from Richard Branson,' claiming that he was doubling everyone’s broadband speeds 'because I can.'" Sky contested that “the small print, saying broadband speeds would only be doubled in cabled areas and customers who already have a 100Mb connection would get a price cut instead of double speed, was misleading and contradicted the main claim.” Virgin Media launched the Bolt ad campaign, created by DDB UK, in January. It was the “biggest campaign to date for the telecoms provider” (CAMPAIGNLIVE.co.uk, 6/27).