NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "needs a sponsor for 13 of the 38 Sprint Cup races this year," according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. That includes "two non-points events." PepsiCo reduced its involvement with Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevy in October, "leaving a sponsorship void that has yet to be filled." But Earnhardt "rejected the idea his sponsorship availability was a sign of the sport's continued struggles." Team Owner Rick Hendrick said, "You can take a short-term deal and fill the car up, or you can try to work with someone who is going to be a long-term situation and is going to be there for years to come." Gluck reports the National Guard is "increasing its involvement from 18 to 20 races." But PepsiCo is "only planning five Diet Dew-sponsored races in 2013" (USA TODAY, 1/24). Hendrick said, "I’m looking for the right deal, not any deal. If I wanted any deal, I would put 'Hendrick cars (.com)' on it. … I have no worries about that car having a full deal come the end of the year.” Hendrick said that he has "had companies interested in sponsoring Earnhardt for the entire season but that would conflict with the organization’s current sponsor contracts" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/24). SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass noted Earnhardt "doesn’t believe his shortage of sponsorship should be viewed as a critical setback for the sport and he is not worried about it considering the economic changes in the last four years." Earnhardt said, "Things are on a upswing, we just have a unique, limited amount of races to fill and those packages are not the most exciting propositions for corporate America to come in and do a little eight-race deal or something like that." He added, "You’ve got to find basically just the right guy that is interested in something that size and is willing to fit the price range that you’re looking for as a team. You can’t undersell compared to what you’re working with on the other races" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/23).
SMOKE SIGNALS: Tony Stewart earlier this week noted he still has several sponsorship openings for his three Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint Cup cars, but ESPN.com's Marty Smith noted Stewart's approach to business has "evolved with time from one that concerned corporate partners to one that endears him to them." Stewart's assets include the Cup team that "represents nearly 30 corporate sponsors on the racetrack and in the marketplace, a four-team sprint car conglomerate that competes in the World of Outlaws and USAC, and a destination dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio." Stewart-Haas Racing Exec VP Brett Frood said, "No doubt Tony is a competitor and sometimes wears the emotions on his sleeve, but we have found that our partners support his passion and authenticity." Frood said that Stewart's focus on the grassroots segment "enables him to maintain a connection with both the boardroom suits and the workingman -- a core demographic for partners." Smith noted among Stewart's other business interests are "dirt racetracks in Macon, Ill., and Paducah, Ky.; Tony Stewart's Original, a line of food products that includes barbecue sauce, salsas and beef jerky; Custom Works remote-control cars; and True Speed Communication, a public relations and marketing firm." As team owner and driver, Stewart "must leverage his own brand with every partner who signs on to sponsor the organization." It is "time-consuming and taxing, but necessary." Frood said, "There's no doubt all of our partners here believe in Tony and are here in many ways because of Tony. He does appearances for every one of them. It creates a challenging lifestyle for him" (ESPN.com, 1/22).
Shell-Pennzoil signed a five-year extension with Penske Racing yesterday that takes its 33-race sponsorship of the No. 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup car through '18. Financial terms of the deal were not available. Shell’s deal with Penske was not up until the end of '13, but Shell NASCAR Dir Heidi Massey-Bong said that the company wanted to extend it early because of its business value. After signing the agreement with Penske in '10, Shell-Pennzoil execs said the sponsorship had the potential to pay for itself based simply on the amount of fuel and oil it sold across the Penske system of more than 310 auto dealerships and 200,000 rental trucks. Those sales will continue under the extension. Massey-Bong said, “When you look at the partnership and what it has done outside racing, this is something we want to be in long term.” The five-year deal stands in contrast to the decisions other NASCAR team sponsors have made in recent years. Several have cut the number of races they sponsor by as much as half and some have exited the sport entirely. Massey-Bong said, “We’re not interested in that.” Team Owner Roger Penske said that the deal brings stability to the team. Penske: “The connection with Shell-Pennzoil on a worldwide basis is amazing, plus when you think about it, our dealerships, our trucks are all running their products. It’s a win-win.” Massey-Bong added that part of the reason the company wanted to renew its deal was because it has a young driver now. Joey Logano takes over the No. 22 this year, replacing A.J. Allmendinger. The deal also extends to Penske's IndyCar operations, as Helio Castroneves' No. 3 car for the third straight year will be sponsored by the company. HERTZ GOLD: Penske also signed Hertz Rent-a-Car as a new associate sponsor. Hertz, which replaces Avis as the team's official rental car partner, has agreed to a multiyear deal that includes a co-primary sponsorship of one Sprint Cup race on Logano’s No. 22 car and seven primary sponsorships of Nationwide Series races with Logano, Brad Keselowski or Ryan Blaney. Financial terms of the deal were not available. Hertz plans to use its Penske Racing sponsorship to promote new initiatives like its keyless car entry system and to highlight its new advertising tagline, “Traveling at the speed of Hertz.” Hertz research shows that 20% of NASCAR fans rented a car in the last year. The deal comes a few months after Roger Penske became a Hertz franchisee, buying 15 locations in Memphis last September. Hertz CEO Mark Frissora said the relationship with Penske had no effect on the deal.
Canadian Tire has announced “one of the largest sets of sports partnerships ever undertaken in the country,” signaling a “huge marketing bet to position itself as Canada’s retailer,” according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. The company yesterday announced that it is now “a premier national partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee, along with a host of other new and expanded sports marketing partnerships.” The new “eight-year partnership with the COC comes as Canada’s retail landscape grows more crowded” with the entry of Target beginning in March. Canadian Tire has “not only ramped up its national marketing imagery in recent months; the new partnerships also represent an attempt by the company to build more swagger into the brand as it prepares for the competition.” The new partnerships also are “a fit for the company’s greater investment in sports retailing over the past two years.” Canadian Tire “has been working to strengthen its Sport Chek and Sports Experts brands," which are also part of the COC deal. Canadian Tire “nabbed the Olympic sponsorship from Rona Inc. after its deal expired at the end of last year.” Financial terms were not disclosed but a source said that “premier partnerships with the COC range from $4-million to $6-million a year.” Canadian Tire also announced that it “has inked a four-year partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, as well as new partnership deals with Hockey Canada, including sponsorship of the World Juniors; the Canadian Soccer Association; Canada Snowboard; and an expanded partnership with Alpine Canada.” It recently announced “a partnership with Skate Canada, to help in its long-running attempt to court female shoppers” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/24).
SHIFT TO AMATEUR SPORTS: In Toronto, Jessica McDiarmid notes the COC sponsorship includes deals with six other Canadian amateur organizations as the company bids “to deepen its ties to a major market: up-and-coming athletes.” The move “signals Canadian Tire’s shift to more aggressive support of amateur sport” following its acquisition of Forzani in ’11. Canadian Tire CEO Stephen Wetmore said, “This allows us truly to get into amateur athletics” (TORONTO STAR, 1/24).
IMG College has won the multimedia rights to West Virginia Univ., one of the few remaining schools that had managed and marketed its rights in-house. Terms of the deal were not available. IMG College, which owns the rights to more than 80 universities across the country, is working through the final stages of contract talks with WVU AD Oliver Luck, who initiated the idea of outsourcing the rights early last year. A formal announcement on the deal is expected in the coming weeks. Virginia-based Rockbridge Sports Group has been consulting with WVU and helped manage the bid process. IMG College won the bid over as many as nine contenders, including Learfield Sports, Nelligan Sports, CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, Fox Sports Net, Front Row Marketing, Legends Sales and Marketing, XOS Digital and West Virginia Radio Corp. IMG College’s contract with WVU will kick in July 1, and the agency already has begun a search for a GM.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick “applied to trademark” the term “Kaepernicking” on Jan. 14, just two days after his breakthrough win against the Packers in the NFL playoffs, according to Eric Branch of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The trademark filing “indicates Kaepernick intends to use the term on ‘clothing, namely shirts’” (SFGATE.com, 1/23). ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell reported Kaepernick's marketing team at X-A-M Sports “already has authorized a few small T-shirt companies to use his name and image on their products.” The official “Kaepernicking" shirt is “made by a company called Sportiqe.” Some proceeds from that shirt “go to Camp Taylor, which organizes camps for children with congenital heart defects.” X-A-M Sports PR & Marketing Dir Shawn Smith said that her team “intends to file other trademarks on her client’s behalf” (ESPN.com, 1/23).
ALL IN THE FAMILY: ESPN.com’s Rovell reported the NFL “pressured an Indiana man to give up his quest to trademark ‘Harbowl,’ even though the man might have had a legal right to do so.” Roy Fox said that he spent "more than $1,000 to file for the trademarks ‘Harbowl’ and ‘Harbaugh Bowl’” last February. However, a couple of weeks before the NFL season started, the NFL “sent a note to Fox saying that it was concerned that his recent trademarks could easily be confused with the NFL's trademark of Super Bowl.” The NFL “encouraged Fox to abandon the marks, citing conflict with its mark.” Fox said that the league “refused to provide him with any remedy.” Univ. of Pennsylvania Law School professor R. Polk Wagner said that Fox not owning the trademark “doesn’t mean that Fox still can’t make T-shirts with his phrases, he just can’t make money from others making them” (ESPN.com, 1/23).
GOLF.com's Mike Walker reported Luke Donald yesterday announced a contract extension "with his longtime sponsor Mizuno." Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Donald "tested the waters with other equipment companies before deciding to stay at Mizuno, which he's been playing since his college days at Northwestern." One of the main "sticking points" for Donald is that he "didn't want a deal that forced him to play all 14 clubs from a single manufacturer." Donald said that he "plays 11 Mizuno clubs -- all his irons and wedges -- and he plays a TaylorMade Rocketbalz driver and an Odyssey White Hot Tour XG putter" (GOLF.com, 1/23).
SILK ROAD: TENNIS.com's Richard Pagliaro reported Svetlana Kuznetsova signed a "new apparel pact with Chinese brand Qiaodan" prior to the start of the Australian Open. Kuznetsova, who lost in the quarterfinals to Victoria Azarenka, had been with Fila for "more than a decade." Meanwhile, Fila is aiming to "fill the void left by the retirement of Kim Clijsters, who was the face of Fila's tennis line," in addition to Kuznetsova. They recently signed 18th-ranked Julia Goerges, who "formerly wore Nike" (TENNIS.com, 1/21).
GLASS HALF-FULL BRANDS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Mia Pearson writes throughout the NHL lockout, and as it ended, many brands "saw an opportunity to connect with consumers on an emotional level," including Bauer, Nike, the NHL itself and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/24).
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