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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

PepsiCo is "finalizing a new, three-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports that will reduce its spend in NASCAR by as much as $20 million and open the door for a new sponsor to land a multi-race deal with the sport's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.," according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The company is "working on a deal that would make it the primary sponsor for eight races across three Hendrick Motorsports cars -- the No. 88, No. 24 and No. 5 -- between 2013 and 2015." That is a "reduction from the 22 races it sponsored across two cars -- 20 on Earnhardt’s No. 88 and two on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 -- over the last five years." Current plans call for PepsiCo’s Diet Mountain Dew and Amp Energy brands "to top the No. 88 car driven by Earnhardt in five races, its Pepsi brands to cover the No. 24 car driven by Gordon in two races, and one of its Pepsi brands to be a single-race primary sponsor on the No. 5 car driven by Kasey Kahne." Sources said that Hendrick is "shopping 13 primary races on Earnhardt's No. 88 car and four races" with Kahne. Hendrick Motorsports Dir of Marketing Pat Perkins "declined to comment on the number of races available on the No. 88 car but said the team is looking for a single company or brand that would align well with Pepsi and the National Guard, which will sponsor 20 primary races on the No. 88 next year." Perkins added that Hendrick is "looking at categories such as consumer packaged goods, personal care, specialty retailers and technology" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/22 issue).

READY TO RETURN: In Charlotte, Jim Utter reports Earnhardt, who had been "sidelined two weeks [after] suffering lingering effects from a pair of concussions, has been medically cleared for competition." Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty said, "Dale Jr. has done everything asked of him. He hasn’t had a headache since Oct. 12, and we have not been able to provoke any symptoms since that time." Earnhardt had a "final neurological evaluation Tuesday morning in Charlotte" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/24).

The Chargers are under NFL investigation for possibly violating the league's policy against using Stickum or similar foreign, grip-enhancing substances, but Idaho-based towel company Gorilla Gold President Patrick Dugan estimated that, at “one point years ago, about 70 percent of NFL teams used the company's towel,” according to Michael Gehlken of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The Gorilla Gold towel “emits a wax-based material that carries a tackifying element similar to a glove, repelling moisture and improving grip.” Dugan said that the material “has been determined in an NCAA lab … not to rub off on footballs.” A Chargers spokesperson, "citing the NFL investigation being a league matter, was unable to confirm Tuesday that Gorilla Gold towels are the ones in question.” Dugan said, "We would believe that every team at one point over the last 10 years since we introduced this product ... has probably had this or does have this.” Dugan "did not specify the number of teams that currently use Gorilla Gold towels.” However, he indicated that because Gorilla Gold’s presence in the NFL “is nothing new and, by some measures, prevalent, the investigation ‘seems odd to us.’” Dugan: "It's a shame it's a controversy. Maybe it will be resolved" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/24).

StubHub has found success with its Ticket Oak marketing campaign, “especially in social media,” and to "take advantage of that, the brand is releasing a series of viral videos starring the Ticket Oak," according to Mallory Russell of AD AGE. The first video "will be released this month and another will air in December.” StubHub CMO Ray Elias in an interview spoke about the Ticket Oak campaign, and how the secondary market ticketing company "plans to better serve its audience." The following is an excerpt from the Q&A:

Q: Why did you decide to use the Ticket Oak as your central character? What was the strategy behind that?
Elias: Contrary to the way it's been written about, we don't view it as a mascot, per se. … We took a risk with that creative. And we thought it was either going to be really funny and catchy or ... (not). So we took the risk and we have seen tremendous growth as a result. … Historically, we've been very measurement focused, direct response focused. There's been a lot of pent-up demand out there, and it was easy to grow the business in that way. And now that we're the size that we are it's really about reaching the mass market. We wanted a single iconic creative that delivered our core message at this point, which has gone from functional -- what is StubHub and where you want to sit -- to the emotional aspects: access, choice, convenience, lots of selection and tickets growing on trees.

Q: How has the Ticket Oak affected the business?
Elias: Tremendous success. The traffic growth has been 40% year over year. We're a company that's seeing 15 million uniques a month. Brand awareness has gone up something like 20% as a result of these campaigns. Marketing at StubHub is the revenue driving function, so we really manage marketing based on revenue and top-line growth. So as the business has continued to grow and flourish over the years so has our marketing investment. ... This was really to refresh and extend the shelf life. We're buying more media that we did in the spring around this.

Q: Can you talk about what new technology you are working on and how that might change the way you market?
Elias: Most people don't go to something because they don't know about it. So people have started to use StubHub beyond just buying tickets. They're really using it to discover events now as well. And I would say that our experience is being tuned to support that to be very, very useful to fans as a discovery tool. We're in a great position because we care about all live events all the time (, 10/23).