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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

The U.S. Army remains committed to sports sponsorships, but it has opted to sever ties with Stewart-Haas Racing after this season because it is not seeing enough of a return on its investment. U.S. Army Marketing Support Chief John Myers, whose organization does recruitment advertising for the Army, said the Army will continue to sponsor the NHRA and entitle the annual high school football game known as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl because both of those sponsorships provide a good ROI, which for the Army is based in part on recruiting leads. Myers said that the Stewart-Haas Racing sponsorship, which cost the Army $7.4M for 15 races last year, was "quite simply a return-on-investment decision." Myers added, "It has nothing to do with Stewart-Haas Racing, per se, which has been a very, very strong partner the past four years. We'll repurpose those dollars against other programs that our metrics show yield better results." In addition to the NHRA and All-American Bowl, the Army will continue to spend its marketing budget on social media initiatives, mobile marketing, TV and digital advertising. Myers said that a recent move by U.S. Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) to amend the defense budget to prohibit sports sponsorships was not a factor in the Army's decision. The Army's marketing budget will remain flat next year (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

BELT-TIGHTENING: McCollum in a statement said, “By ending its sponsorship of NASCAR, the Army made the right move to eliminate a wasteful program and protect taxpayer dollars -- which has been my goal all along.” Myers: “I want to stress that Stewart-Haas Racing has been our partner for four years and it was a completely mutually beneficial partnership. But in today’s budgetary environment, we’ve got to look at every single thing we’re doing and derive the best possible ROI out of every component and element.” Myers said that he “could not say how many recruits were generated by the NASCAR sponsorship.” Myers: “That is a very difficult thing to do. Recruiting someone to invest four, five, six years of their life in an enterprise of the Army, it doesn’t happen with one experience at a NASCAR track.” SPORTING NEWS’ Bob Pockrass noted the U.S. Air Force sponsors Richard Petty Motorsports "for a couple of races," while the U.S. Marines, Navy and the Air National Guard "have sponsored NASCAR teams in the past and eventually dropped the sponsorships” (, 7/10).

NOT LEAVING ALL MOTORSPORTS:’s Terry Blount reported Army officials are "in the process of signing a contract extension with Don Schumacher Racing through 2013 to continue the long-running sponsorship of the Top Fuel dragster" for Tony Schumacher. Myers said, “The NHRA is a valuable part of our motorsports outreach portfolio. ... The NHRA gives us a great return on our investment.” Blount added the Army has been Schumacher's primary sponsor "since the 2000 season, one of the longest-running major sponsorship agreements in the NHRA” (, 7/10).

PUTTING YOUR GUARD UP: USA TODAY’s Dustin Long reports McCollum will “meet today with National Guard officials to discuss their backing" of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup entry. McCollum said that the National Guard “requested today’s meeting.” Long notes even if the proposed amendment to the defense budget "is killed, the National Guard will likely have less money to work with next year, which means Earnhardt's No. 88 team with Hendrick Motorsports could be impacted.” The National Guard's “total sports sponsorship was $54.5 million in fiscal year 2012," and the organization "made a request of $24.5 million in fiscal year 2013 as all branches of the military plan to cut their marketing programs.” The Guard “budgeted $26.5 million on NASCAR alone in fiscal year 2012, down from $32.7 million in fiscal year 2011” (USA TODAY, 7/11).

Eagles QB Michael Vick today will announce a new sports apparel line "in a licensing partnership with celebrity clothing-line mogul Ruby Azrak and former ICM talent agent Brian Sher, and distributed by the Modell's sporting-goods retail chain,” according to Lee Hawkins of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Azrak's company, Excel Corp., “has the exclusive rights to the new clothing line, V7.” Modell's Sporting Goods CEO Mitchell Modell said that the V7 clothing “will be offered in 30 stores, including 25 in Philadelphia.” The store has exclusivity through the end of the year. Vick said, "It's a long life dream. Just like when you envision yourself having a shoe as a young kid, you also envision yourself going a step further and having a clothing line." Vick believes he has “restored his brand 65% to 75% since leaving prison” in '09. He acknowledges that it “is still tattered, but he and his partners believe his fan base has grown large enough for him to become the face of his own product” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/11).

Qatar Airways has "been approached by two Premier League clubs" about potential sponsorships, according to Robert Lea of the LONDON TIMES. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker "insisted that any such deal would be signed only if he could get stadium naming rights." That notion led to speculation that the airline "could link up with West Ham United, leading to the Olympic stadium being renamed something like the Qatardome." al-Baker said he did not follow rivals Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways into EPL sponsorships because he could "spend the same amount of money (in other marketing expenditure) for the same amount of publicity." However, he "admitted that that might change." al-Baker: "Two English teams have approached us. We told them that we would consider it, but we are not yet ready to do it. We might be interested at the appropriate time." He indicated that he would "want similar terms to the deal with Arsenal, which has the Emirates name attached to its ground in North London, and Manchester City, which plays at the Etihad" (LONDON TIMES, 7/11).

The Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series is the airline’s second biggest sponsorship measured by fees, even more than the its deal with EPL club Arsenal, Emirates Head of Sponsorship Roger Duthie told a group of reporters in N.Y. yesterday. The USTA, which organizes the Series that begins this week, hosted the luncheon to introduce as its new title sponsor, Emirates, a Dubai-based company that flies mostly to Asian and African destinations. But the airline is expanding in the U.S., and it will have seven cities in the country by September when DC is added. The airline currently offers direct flights to Dubai from L.A., S.F., Seattle and Dallas. Emirates’ top sponsorship is with FIFA, and Duthie admitted that if Arsenal renews when its deal expires next year, the new agreement would likely top the seven-year, $91M USOS pact. Tennis, like soccer, offers a global audience, he said. However, he also emphasized the local markets the U.S Open Series reaches with 10 ATP and WTA events and the importance to Emirates of entertaining the fans onsite. The company plans a series of digital and social media initiatives during the Series and at the U.S. Open, which Emirates is also sponsoring. One of its A380’s landed in N.Y. yesterday with USOS logo (the airline has 176 planes and 227 on order). The company will have a social media contest to guess where that plane is in the world. Duthie described tennis as in its golden age, and said the sport delivers tremendous returns. In fact, he said its sponsorship of the Canadian tennis tournament delivered far and away the company’s highest ROI for any of its sponsorships. Emirates did look at the Big Four sports, and the PGA Tour as marketing entry points into the U.S., but none offered the global audience of tennis, Duthie said.

Patriots QB Tom Brady appears in a new ad for Boston-based healthy candy company Unreal Brands in which he participates in a "staring contest" with fans, according to Steve Silva of the BOSTON GLOBE. The ad, which was shot at a CVS pharmacy on June 7, shows customers being told they will "get free candy if they can win a 30-second staring contest with a mystery person behind a black curtain." When the curtain is opened, it is Brady "staring back at them." Eventually one of the shoppers "beats Brady at the blinking game." Brady is later "'arrested' by a police officer for giving out candy to kids." Brady says in the last scene, "I didn't know giving out candy to kids is illegal" (, 7/10). In Boston, Ira Kantor notes Unreal Brands is the "brainchild of Hub entrepreneur Michael Bronner and his now 15-year-old son, Nicky." Along with Brady and his wife, model Gisele Bundchen, actor Matt Damon "has been wooed by the company to promote its healthy treats on social media" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/10). The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe wrote, "This Tom Brady commercial is good, but it's also got one hilariously awkward moment you need to see." Comcast SportsNet New England's Mary Paoletti wrote, "Tom Brady's best commercial yet. And not just because he gets arrested for giving candy to little kids" (, 7/11). Meanwhile, in Boston, Fee, Raposa & Johnson noted Brady was recently seen "sprinting in a spot for Under Armour's new Spine running shoe" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/10)