NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick has "signed a multiyear agreement to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing" beginning with the '14 season, according to sources cited by Marty Smith of ESPN.com. Sources said that Harvick will remain with Richard Childress Racing in the No. 29 Chevrolet "for the 2013 campaign." RCR Owner Richard Childress was "irritated by the report." Childress said, "I've got a contract for 2013 and this is 2012. I'm not talking to you about nothing (regarding that).'' When asked if Harvick told Childress he would not race for the team past '13, Childress said, "You need to go talk to them people. Don't talk to me about it." Sources said that under Stewart-Haas' plan, Harvick will "drive a fourth SHR Chevrolet," joining current team Owner/driver Tony Stewart, and drivers Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. Harvick "contemplated leaving RCR the previous time his contract was up" in '10, but in "good faith, he chose to remain with the man who gave him an opportunity at the big time." Sources said that Harvick believes Stewart "has the ability to motivate him, and that was a critical factor in his decision." News of the Harvick move "came the same day RCR announced Austin Dillon will drive the No. 33 in next season's Daytona 500 with sponsorship from Cheerios." Childress is "openly grooming his organization for his grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, who are competing in NASCAR's lower national levels" (ESPN.com, 11/9).
BUDWEISER ON THE MOVE? In Charlotte, Jim Utter reported the Budweiser sponsorship on the No. 29 car "may well move with Harvick to SHR." The sponsor's current deal concludes at the end of the '13 season, and sources said that Budweiser "would be open to continuing its relationship with the driver" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/10). ESPN’s Ray Evernham said the “biggest impact" for RCR with Harvick leaving “will be what the sponsorship does, how that works with Kevin and whether it stays at RCR or not” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 11/11). ESPN.com's David Newton wrote Harvick's departure "will be huge, particularly if he takes primary sponsor Budweiser with him." RCR after the '11 season lost driver Clint Bowyer to Michael Waltrip Racing "due to lack of sponsorship and had to shrink from four to three teams" (ESPN.com, 11/9).
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Utter wrote Harvick will be "for all intents and purposes, a 'lame duck' driver in 2013." Utter: "One wonders how well that will go over for RCR in general and in particular its sponsor line and future plans. Certainly we have seen situations like this in the past. Inevitably, there ends up one common denominator -- in almost all cases the driver involved ends up leaving early" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/11). ESPN’s Ricky Craven said he did not think Harvick and Childress “could work through 2013 under these circumstances." Craven: "Kevin’s too emotional, Richard’s at a point in life where he’s not very tolerant. Recipe for disaster” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 11/11). But ESPN.com's Newton wrote Harvick and Childress "appeared on good terms" following Harvick's win yesterday in the Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway. Childress "put his arm around race-winner Harvick during his postrace interview." Harvick said he and Childress "will always be friends." Harvick: "We still have a lot of racing left to do and we owe it to our sponsors and our company to go out and do exactly what we did today, and be men and do the best we can for everybody." Childress said, "We look to everybody in '13 to go win a championship, and whatever happens, happens. It's a business decision. This is a business sport" (ESPN.com, 11/11).
State Farm is "out as an MLB corporate sponsor and title sponsor of the annual Home Run Derby, held the evening before the All-Star Game," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. That means MLB "heads into the offseason minus a sponsor of six years and with the pressure of having to sell one of its largest sponsorship packages: the ESPN-televised Home Run Derby, which State Farm had titled" since '07. The "bad news for those selling a package that one agency source pegged at an 'asking price' of $10 million a year is that both the All-Star Game, to which the Derby is inevitably tied, and the World Series registered historic lows in terms of ratings and total viewers on Fox." While sponsorship buys are "infamously difficult to compare head to head, State Farm already has voted with its pocketbook, renewing with the NBA for an additional four years while dropping its MLB rights." Sources said that the insurer will "keep its MLB team deals while spending more on the NBA, which offers a younger audience." Elsewhere on MLB’s "offseason sales agenda is a renewal with Pepsi, which had held baseball marketing rights" since '97 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/12 issue).
The family of Texas A&M Univ. QB Johnny Manziel is "putting itself in position to one day capitalize" off his Johnny Football nickname, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Texas A&M Assistant VP/Business Development Shane Hinckley said, "Texas A&M is working in concert with the Manziel family to trademark the nickname." Rovell noted the news "comes less than two weeks after an organization called Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, based in College Station, Texas, filed for the 'Johnny Football' trademark." In order to "keep Manziel's eligibility intact, neither Texas A&M nor the family can sell products with Johnny Football that in any way hints of a connection to Manziel." However, the school "can, and is expected to by the NCAA, stop vendors from doing so as well." Hinckley said that Manziel's No. 2 jersey "hit the campus bookstore for the first time this season on Friday, with a bigger shipment coming on Monday." Prior to that, the only jersey numbers available this season have been "the generic No. 1 and No. 12, a standard number available each year at Texas A&M, famous for its 12th man" (ESPN.com, 11/11). Hinckley said that he "isn't concerned about Manziel's jersey number hitting stores so late in the season because the player is young and has plenty of years left." Hinckley added that the school has "sent eight cease-and-desist letters over the past two weeks to those who tried to sell items with his nickname on their merchandise" (ESPN.com, 11/8).
Century 21 CMO Beverly Thorne said that the real estate company is returning to the Super Bowl in ‘13 for “a second go-round,” according to Brian Steinberg of AD AGE. Thorne said that Century 21 “expects to air a 30-second spot early in the third quarter, just a little past the end of the halftime show.” She added that the company soon plans to “start discussing creative concepts with its agency, Red Tettemer of Philadelphia.” As part of its deal with CBS, which is broadcasting the game Feb. 3, Century 21 also will be a “presenting sponsor of part of the network's pre-game broadcast and have its ads run throughout the day.” Century 21 had “for some time put the majority of its efforts into web-based advertising and stayed off TV.” The company then “used an ad berth in NBC's broadcast of the 2012 Super Bowl to reinvigorate interest in home sales and purchases during what has arguably been the worst era for that sort of activity in decades.” The company joins a ‘13 Super Bowl advertising roster that also includes “PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Audi of America, Cars.com, GoDaddy.com, Hyundai/Kia, Best Buy, Mercedes-Benz and Coca-Cola” (ADAGE.com, 11/9).
Warrior Sports “apologized Friday for an ad campaign that prompted a boycott” by MLL Charlotte Hounds MF Jovan Miller, and the company has “removed all references of the controversial ‘Ninja Please’ tagline on its site and social media accounts,” according to Dianne Gallagher of WCNC-NBC. Warrior Sports CMO Dave Dixon said, “We are not using it anymore and we do apologize if it was taken the wrong way. If we had thought it was going to be offensive, we wouldn't have done it.” He added that the company was “attempting a play on words to sell the ‘Dojo’ shoe.” Miller is “one of only three African-American players in the league.” He said that he was “hoping the company will use this as a ‘teachable moment’ for the sport about racial sensitivity” (WCNC.com, 11/9).