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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

National Guard Association President Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett Jr. said that the organization “must do a better job of proving the value of its sport sponsorships, including with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR, or it should get out of them,” according to Dustin Long of USA TODAY. Congress’ vote of 216-202 against an amendment to end military spending on sports sponsorships “was closer than votes last year defeating similar amendments,” and momentum “appears to be growing for such an amendment.”  U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) whose district “abuts Daytona International Speedway, voted against the amendment last year but supported it Wednesday.” Mica said, “Every year the deficit is getting worse. The military has to look at ways to cut at funds.” However, Hargett said that U.S. Reps Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) were “relying on ‘bad data’ in their quest to end military sports sponsorships that also include the Guard’s sponsorship of J.R. Hildebrand in the Izod IndyCar Series” (USA TODAY, 7/20). In Charlotte, Franco Ordonez reports U.S. Reps Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) were among “the most vocal members who advocated continued recruitment spending and rejected” the amendment. Kissell said that the relationship NASCAR has with the military “would be tough to replicate elsewhere if cuts were made.” But Kingston in his argument to end the sponsorships “questioned the effectiveness of the money spent.” He said that the National Guard received “24,800 inquiries because of the racing sponsorship” in FY ’12, but only 20 “were qualified, and none joined the guard.” McHenry “countered that the National Guard saw a nearly 300 percent return on its investment” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/20).

: SPORTING NEWS’ Bob Pockrass wrote this is “not the time for a lot of congratulations and pats on the back for surviving another round with Congress.” It is time for NASCAR "to look in the mirror." Pockrass: "It’s time for the top executives in the sport to figure out not just why politicians are voting for the military to get out of motorsports but why major corporations also have cut back their spending in NASCAR.” Mica was among the “most notable to swing his support toward the amendment.” That should “send shivers down the spines of NASCAR officials at the sport’s headquarters in Daytona Beach.” NASCAR needs to “find ways to produce better results for sponsors and make even the most skeptical people take a second look” at the sport (, 7/19).

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. uses his Hammerhead Entertainment outlet to “retain creative control over his projects,” according to Lee Spencer of, who wrote under the header, “Junior Expands Brand Beyond Racing.” Earnhardt created the production company in ’04, and he said, “We did enough commercials, just on my own, that we could justify creating a production company, as long as we had a certain volume of commercials we shot every year. ... We felt like we could keep that going (and) if we were fortunate or lucky enough, we’d start getting other work. And we’ve been able to do that.” Spencer noted Hammerhead Entertainment began on Earnhardt's farm 40 miles north of Charlotte with the show “Back in the Day” for Speed and “Unrestricted with Dale Jr.” for XM Radio. JR Motorsports Dir of Entertainment J.R. Rhodes said, “We did that for three years and produced over 120 shows. As we began to expand our business plan, we realized we had to relocate to provide our services to other clients other than Dale Jr.-related.” Hammerhead worked “closely with the Columbus, Ohio-based Engauge marketing agency and fellow production company No Smoke on the recent series of Nationwide commercials.” But the company’s portfolio “has stretched to include Fortune 500 companies, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, fellow competitors and their sponsors, as well other sports.” Earnhardt said, “We did some work with the Pro Bull Riders Association. The IRL used us once for one of their commercials; Kasey Kahne’s group. We shoot all kinds of drivers over there now. Denny (Hamlin) and all of them guys are over there shooting their stuff for the start of the year, so it’s working out.” Spencer noted Hammerhead “recently bested NASCAR to produce videos for displays at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a coup that Earnhardt described as ‘great.’” Earnhardt: "There’s a little competition there, and I’m enjoying that part. I’m enjoying trying to become more successful as far as our production company goes” (, 7/19).

STILL DRAWING ATTENTION: NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France recently sat down with ESPN’s Marty Smith for a midseason report, and Smith asked what impact Earnhardt’s on-track success, "him being relevant on the racetrack, have for NASCAR racing?” Earnhardt currently sits second in the Sprint Cup points standings, and France said, “With a lot of media outlets that may or may not cover us all the time, he's an attention-grabber. If you see what was covered when he won a couple weeks ago, it was very impressive and obviously, he has the biggest fan base. He's a terrific guy, so it's nice to see him get not only a win, but also to be really competitive week in, week out" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 7/19).

Golf Balls on Parade, a campaign to support the PGA Championship and local community for the '13 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, "features six-foot fiberglass golf balls that will be decorated by local artists and showcased in western New York," according to Ryan Miller of the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE. The event began with a news conference Tuesday and an "unveiling of the statues, which are stamped with the logos of the six PGA events that have been played at the course." One hundred of the golf balls "will be sold to sponsors for $6,000 apiece." Once a commemorative ball is purchased, the sponsor "will collaborate with a local artist to paint and customize the ball with a theme that highlights the region." The PGA of America and Rochester-based marketing agency Dixon Schwabl "hope the golf balls spur tourism and gain awareness for nonprofit organizations." Phillip Burke, who "lives in Buffalo and is best known for his caricatures in Rolling Stone, will be one of the featured artists" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 7/18).