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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

Chick-fil-A apparently was "surprised by word of an impending name change” to the Atlanta-based bowl game it title sponsors as part of the game's acceptance to the College Football Playoff rotation, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Chick-fil-A Exec VP & CMO Steve Robinson did not discuss the situation Thursday, instead writing in an e-mail, “At this stage, I am not in a position to give you any more definitive information concerning the bowl’s name.” Tucker notes the game has been known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl since it dropped "Peach" from the name in '06. The QSR would "have to negotiate a new sponsorship deal” as part of the move to the CFP, and a name change “undoubtedly would be part of upcoming negotiations.” But if the name Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is “readopted, that would make the name more in keeping with other bowls in the playoff rotation.” Including a bowl’s traditional name alongside a corporation’s “ensures some consistency if title sponsors change over the years.” As part of its deal to “televise the four-team playoff, ESPN obtained the exclusive naming and marketing rights to the bowls in the semifinal rotation.” That means a title sponsor, which “in the past negotiated directly with the local bowl, will have to reach a deal with ESPN.” ESPN Communications Manager Michael Humes said that the net has “no role in deciding to reinstall" the Peach name. Robinson earlier this week said that Chick-fil-A has “very high hopes” of continuing its role into the playoff environment, “but we’ve got to negotiate that and preserve our title sponsorship” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/26).

Cincinnati-based restaurant LaRosa's Pizzeria has "handed out more than $100K in free pizza this month as a result" of the company's promotion with the Reds that gives fans a "free small pizza in exchange for their ticket stub when the Reds strike out 11 batters at a home game," according to Sam Gardner of The team through 15 games at Great American Ball Park this year has "struck out 11 or more batters on seven occasions" after accomplishing the feat just 14 times during the entire '12 season. Food giveaways "aren’t exactly new to the world of professional sports, but few have gotten the kind of attention that LaRosa’s pizza handouts have generated." LaRosa's is "seeing a 15-to-20 percent redemption rate on the special," as fans "have seven days to exchange their tickets, but can’t do so on the day of the game" (, 4/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Mike Oz reported LaRosa's, which has 65 stores, "isn't upset at the Reds strikeout prowess." Company Exec VP/Marketing Pete Buscani said, "This is the best promotion we've done in a long time" (, 4/24). NBC Sports Network’s Dave Briggs noted, “It seemed like a pretty modest investment, but if it continues at this pace, it’s looking like over half a million dollars in free pizza.” NBCSN's Michelle Beadle said, “I don’t know how big this business is -- and I’m assuming it’s not Papa John’s level -- but it’s a lot of money” (“The Crossover,” NBCSN, 4/24). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said, "They're not going to be so far in debt with $100,000 that they can’t survive." The net’s Doug Gottlieb added, “This is good publicity. We’re talking about it, we talked about it on my radio show, and it’s talked about nationally” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 4/24).

: In Dayton, David Jablonski noted fans "start chanting, 'Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!' when the Reds get the 10th strikeout." Reds P Sam LeCure said, "I don’t care about the pizza deal. The pizza deal (ticks) me off. I hear the fans. Logan (Ondrusek’s) goes 3-2 on a guy, and he walks him, and they’re booing him because they’re hollering for pizza. That bothers me" (DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 4/25).

In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports Panther DRR -- or Dreyer & Reinbold Racing -- will “cease operations” after the Indianapolis 500 “unless something close to a miracle happens.” Sources confirmed that the team “owned by Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl have decided sponsorship isn’t there to continue.” Driver Oriol Servia, whose car is fielded by DRR, said, “I knew we were short on sponsorship money, but we haven’t missed a single test. We haven’t skipped anything” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/26). Reinbold said, “It’s disappointing, obviously, but financially it has to make sense. IndyCar racing is getting more and more affordable and it needs to continue that way but we just don’t have the funds to continue past May” (, 4/2).

MEMORIAL SALUTE: Chip Ganassi Racing on Thursday announced new sponsorships with Vizio and Hulu for the Indy 500 and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, both over Memorial Day weekend. The programs include major associate-level branding on both IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe’s No. 8 Honda and NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevy. The sponsors also will see primary branding on driver Kyle Larson’s No. 32 Chevy in the Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CGR).

RUN RICKY RUN: Nationwide Insurance announced a two-year deal with Sprint Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Nationwide will be Stenhouse's primary sponsor for three races in '13, four events in '14 and will serve as his associate sponsor for all other races (Nationwide).

Tennis player Maria Sharapova said of her Sugarpova candy line, “I want this to be the best gummy brand in the world. When I thought about the idea, I did a lot of Internet research on candies, and I asked my friends: ‘What's your favorite gummy candy?’ They would never mention a brand name. They would only name, for instance, the shape, like ‘Oh, that round one’ or 'ears' or ‘little worms.’ I thought that was really interesting, because not one person told me a specific brand of candy, and I felt like there was a huge opportunity there” (MOSCOW TIMES, 4/25).

THE REAL MCCOY: The AP reported the NFL “won a court order Wednesday to shut down the operators of nearly 1,500 China-based websites accused of selling fake NFL merchandise, continuing the league's effort to counter booming counterfeit sales of its popular player jerseys and other merchandise.” The league in a lawsuit “accused the website operators of being part of a single network of counterfeiters who sell fake jerseys, headwear and other merchandise bearing the trademarks of the league or its 32 teams” (AP, 4/25).

PICTURE PERFECT: MOBILE COMMERCIAL DAILY’s Lauren Johnson reported Nike is “leveraging Instagram with a new microsite that not only lets consumers customize their own pair of sneakers, but also shop from their smartphones, tablets and desktops.” The site “syncs with a user’s Instagram account and is accessible at” Nike is using the campaign “to push the brand’s line of Nike Air Max sneakers” (, 4/24).