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Volume 24 No. 115

Marketing and Sponsorship

DHL has reached an agreement to be the full primary sponsor for Izod IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay for the '13 season. The agreement extends DHL's sponsorship of the race team into its third consecutive season. Continuing sponsorship elements in '13 include DHL image and advertising rights as well as VIP hospitality platforms for DHL customers at races (DHL). Hunter-Reay will change his car number from No. 28 to No.1, and he said that his team "deserved to have No. 1 on the car." In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote it was a "difficult decision because Hunter-Reay has an emotional tie to No. 28, which represents to him the 28 million people fighting cancer on any given day globally." Andretti Autosport Owner Michael Andretti was a "driving force in the decision." Andretti said, "We earned that number as a team, and we felt we should run it. It’s such a hard thing to get. I’m surprised more teams don’t do that" (, 12/5).

MiLB President & CEO Pat O’Conner is “again asking the minors to come together, this time to create an industry-wide marketing program that he predicts will attract the major corporate sponsors that MiLB has failed to land under its 20-year-old group marketing program,” according to Josh Leventhal of BASEBALL AMERICA. O’Conner yesterday during the Winter Meetings in Nashville announced the new marketing program -- which he called Project Brand: 160 teams, one brand -- and the committee of minor league execs “that spent the past seven months crafting it.” O’Conner envisions a program that “sells minor league baseball as an entity and promotes the model of affordable, family-friendly entertainment to major companies.” It would “abandon the minors’ current marketing strategy, which pairs individual teams with relevant companies.” Participation in the new program “will be voluntary for teams but will require a $15,000 investment that can be paid over two installments next year.” Single-A Carolina League Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Single-A New York-Penn League State College Spikes Chair & Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg said that the program “does not expect to return a profit in its first two years.” Initial reaction “from several minor league owners and officials was largely positive." The Baseball Internet Rights Co. “appears to have validated O’Conner’s theory that the minor leagues could attract bigger and better advertisers working as one.” With all but a “handful of teams on board, BIRCO announced its first profitable year" following the '11 season. O’Conner said, “The current program is effective, but lacks the resources and organizational commitment to efficiently serve this powerful brand" (, 12/4).

The '13 LPGA Tour Safeway Classic "remains up in the air as tournament organizers continue to negotiate with Safeway about continuing as sponsor," according to Mike Tokito of the Portland OREGONIAN. Safeway and event organizer The Tournament Golf Foundation "have been in discussions about renewing the relationship" since this year's tournament in August. One potential "sticking point in the negotiations is the length of the sponsorship agreement." When Safeway originally signed on as sponsor in '96, it signed "a three-year rolling contract, and for the first 13 years, the grocery chain agreed to extend the deal one additional year at the end of each tournament." But in '08, Safeway decided to "revisit the rolling clause and made 2011 an option year." After the '10 tournament, Safeway "announced in October that it picked up the 2011 option." A similar one-year extension "was announced last December." Safeway President of Seattle & Portland Divisions Steve Frisby said, "This is the time of the year when those decisions are made, and I would fully expect there would be an announcement in short order." Tokito notes the tournament has been played "in the Portland area for 41 years, making it the longest-running regular tournament on the LPGA Tour." This year's event, held at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek course in North Plains, drew 81,000 fans, "the fourth consecutive year in which attendance has been at least 80,000." Meanwhile, an "exclamation point" was put on the '12 event yesterday when it was announced that the tournament raised $1M for charity (, 12/5).

USA TODAY’s Sam Amick writes, “Mass appeal is the name of the game in Nike’s advertising campaigns,” and the company views Thunder F Kevin Durant “as one of a select few athletes who can reach and push products beyond just basketball.” Durant recently was the “main attraction at two more ‘House of Hoops’ sneaker launch event in the New York area,” and the appearance was the “continuation of an effort to spread his brand on the largest of platforms.” Sports Business Group President David Carter said of Durant playing in Oklahoma City, “I don’t think the small market is necessarily going to hold him back.” Durant’s sponsor portfolio includes Nike, Gatorade, 2K Spots, Sprint, GE, Skullcandy and Panini (USA TODAY, 12/6).

FROM THE TRACK TO THE CATWALK: In London, Alice Newbold notes Gold Medal-winning British heptathlete Jessica Ennis is on the cover of this month's issue of Bespoke magazine. Ennis said, "I'd love to start my own fashion label -- whether it's collaborating with (a sportswear brand) or doing the more fashion-y side of things.” Newbold writes Ennis is "fronting lucrative advertising contracts with Adidas, Olay, Jaguar and British Airways." Ennis said she is "busier than I'd ever imagined" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/6).

PLOWING THROUGH: USA Ski Jumping announced an agreement that extends through July 31, '14 for The Boss Snowplow to become the national governing body’s official snow and ice removal equipment sponsor (USASJ).