Time Warner Cable is expanding its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports, adding primary sponsorship for five races on the No. 88 car with Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season and two races on the No. 5 car with Kasey Kahne. The deal closes out the open inventory on the No. 88 and No. 5 cars this year. With TWC, Earnhardt now has a sponsor for five of the 13 races that were available on the No. 88 at the start of the season. The eight remaining primary sponsorships were taken by the National Guard, bringing its total number of races from 20 to 28, industry sources said. PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew brand sponsors five races on the No. 88. Financial terms of TWC’s deal for the No. 88 were not available but Hendrick was seeking more than $750,000 per race for Earnhardt's car. In addition to adding five races with Earnhardt, TWC expanded its sponsorship of Kahne. The company signed on to be a primary sponsor of Kahne at the start of the season and sponsored him for four races this year. The original four-race deal was valued at $2M a year. Time Warner is adding two races this year, bringing its total to six, and it is sponsoring five events in '14 and '15. Kahne, whose car is now sold out of primary sponsorship through '14, was featured in TWC's “Enjoy Better” national advertising campaign. The company in a statement said that NASCAR has delivered “terrific exposure and return” this year. The deal also is connected with Hendrick Automotive Group, the motorsports team’s sister company. Hendrick Automotive has dealerships in 12 states, and Hendrick Motorsports can help TWC's sales team with introductions to its local dealers. CAA advised TWC on the deal.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Dannon yesterday "announced its plans to advertise its Oikos Greek
Yogurt brand in the game again following a one-year absence," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. That brings the total to four the number of major companies which have "announced plans to advertise" during Fox' broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII with "a fifth on tap early next week." Dannon joins previously announced sponsors A-B, Intuit and GM, and "more advertisers are breathlessly awaiting to do the same." The reason for the "rush" is "in three letters: ROI." Horizon Media National TV Dir David Campanelli said, "It's a little surprising it hasn't been this early in the past." Fox is reportedly charging a record high average price of $4M per 30-second slot, and "when the air is that thin, advertisers are under increasing pressure to justify their investments with sizable returns that can be documented." Dannon Senior Dir of PR Michael Neuwirth said that "one big draw for Dannon announcing so early is 'to be part of' all the advertising reporting that goes on well before the game." The "evolving world of social media strategies is nudging some marketers to announce early so they can already start posting and interacting with consumers via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube" (USATODAY.com, 9/3). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports Dannon "hasn't yet decided on an ad agency." While major NFL sponsors and "perennial Super Bowl advertisers ... tend to make their presence known early, it's unusual for most advertisers to try to gather marketing buzz so far in advance" (N.Y. POST, 9/4).
ALL GREEK TO ME: AD AGE's E.J. Schultz noted Dannon made its Super Bowl debut in '12 with its Oikos Greek spot featuring actor John Stamos, but the company "sat out last year's game because it wanted time to evaluate the long-term viability of its Oikos Greek brand." Dannon's '12 Super Bowl spot "made history as the first yogurt brand ever advertised during the game." The marketer used crowd-sourcing agency Poptent for its '12 Super Bowl ad with assistance from WPP's Y&R. Neuwirth said that Dannon is "still evaluating strategies and creative options" for '14. Neuwirth added, "Stamos could play a returning role, that is to be determined" (ADAGE.com, 9/3).
DRIVEN A FORD LATELY? FORBES.com's Dale Buss wrote "traditional logic about the Super Bowl would argue" that next year's game would be "the ideal occasion for Ford to end its long Super Bowl time-out and get back in the game" after seven years of not advertising during the event. Ford next year is "expected to introduce an update of its F-150 pickup truck ... as well as a new version of the classic Mustang." But Ford placing an ad "still might not happen," as Ford CMO Jim Farley's "avoidance of the Super Bowl has been related to more than just concerns about return on investment, and even more than the schedule of Ford product launches." He and his colleagues have been "trying to recast Ford as a transforming brand and company that no longer fit their traditional mold, and Super Bowl ads in part would only reinforce a legacy definition of Ford and reiterate a message that doesn’t really move the brand forward" (FORBES.com, 9/3).
Sanderson Farms yesterday announced a three-year renewal of its deal to title sponsor the annual PGA Tour event in Mississippi. The Sanderson Farms Championship, which is held at Annandale Golf Club, is moving from July to late October and the front end of the '14-15 schedule, the same week as the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Because of the move, the tourney will not be contested during the '13-14 season. Officials said the purse is increasing by $1M to $4M for the '14 event (Sanderson Farms). Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson said that he "hopes to grow the purse beyond that for future tournaments." Sanderson: "We got off on very good footing, and we got our name out there. We intend to move this up a notch and make it better and better.” In Jackson, Jeff Ayres notes the tournament for the last three years "has been played on the same weekend as the British Open." Though the '14 tourney will conflict with the WGC event, Sanderson noted that "fewer than 30 American players typically play in that event." He hopes the "higher purse and no 'major' tournament on that same weekend will draw more of the world’s top golfers" to the event. Viking Range title-sponsored the tournament until '11, but "withdrew as the recession took its toll on the company." A sponsorship consortium "kept the tournament going in 2012 as the True South Classic" before Sanderson Farms came on board this year (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 9/4).
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Brady appeared on CNBC this morning to discuss his TB12 Sports Therapy Center. He said the center "should be open in a week or two" and its main principle is to have a "well-rounded approach to being your best at any age and that is a lifestyle decision." CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said Brady "seems to take a different approach to sponsorships than a lot of other athletes" in that Brady tries to "take equity" in the company he is endorsing. Brady: "I'm in a very fortunate position where I'm able to choose the things that I really believe in and be associated with people that I have the same vision. I think how I feel about what I represent is important to me." Brady said, "When I'm choosing to put my name behind something like TB12 Sports Therapy Center I wholly believe in everything that we're trying to accomplish there." At the end of the interview, CNBC's Joe Kernen noted Brady is married to a supermodel, is good-looking, intelligent and wealthy, and asked, "Are you bad at something or you've got some vice of some sort? … Anything that you can tell us that is disgusting about you? Just give me something." Brady said of Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, who had appeared on the net earlier in the day, "If he's on there the rest of the day, I'm sure he's got a couple of stories in him. I'm sure I do plenty of things that annoy my wife" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/4).
NHRA team Owner/Driver John Force “thanked” sponsors Ford and Castrol for “giving him 16 months to find replacements” after both companies announced they will pull their support after the ’14 season, according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. Times. Force, whose John Force Racing team has four drivers, said that he “plans an aggressive campaign” to find new sponsors. Castrol is the primary sponsor for Force and his daughter Brittany. Radio-controlled car manufacturer Traxxas and the Auto Club of Southern California are the main sponsors for another of Force’s daughters, Courtney, and son-in-law Robert Hight, respectively. Those sponsorships “remain intact under multiyear deals.” Force “declined to say how much money his sponsors spend on his team each year or disclose other financial figures.” Peltz noted it costs roughly $4M a year to “race a top-flight dragster in the Mello Yello Series, and with four cars and other operating costs, Force's annual budget” likely is $20M or more. Castrol, Ford and the other “primary sponsors cover most of those costs.” Because Force also is “so well-known, the departure of Castrol and Ford raised questions about whether their moves reflected a pessimistic outlook for drag racing generally.” NHRA President Tom Compton said, “We never like to see major sponsors go. But things do happen in corporate America." Force said that he is “confident of replacing the lost Castrol sponsorship.” He said if he fails he will “have to step out of the seat in 2015” and sideline his car rather than Brittany Force's car (L.A. TIMES, 9/3).
MODEL CITIZEN: Courtney Force said of the effect appearing in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue has had on the sport: "I've signed a number of copies out at the race track and have had fans tell me that they didn't know much about our sport until they saw the issue, and how they are intrigued and love it." She added, "I think this could definitely open new doors in the future and really just hope to shine a light over our sport in the NHRA" (INDYSTAR.com, 9/3).
In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted MLB uniform violations "are becoming more common because of more policing" by the league, which is "trying to protect licensing agreements." One "common violation is shirts being unbuttoned too low." One unbuttoned button "is allowed, but anything more than that is considered a violation." Red Sox LF Jonny Gomes said that he "had a violation this season for exposing an Under Armour logo under his jersey." The only logo "allowed to be exposed is that of Nike since it has an agreement for undershirts" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/1).
PATCHING THINGS UP: In N.Y., Edna Ishayik noted U.S. Open seamstress Kathy Karadza's "most common task involves late requests to apply sponsors’ patches." These can be "particularly tricky because [of] size, color and placement restrictions." Lower-ranked players who "play on a court where the matches are televised can find themselves with new sponsors who want their names promoted." That was the case Friday when Karadza was "presented with an irregularly shaped VitaCoco patch to sew on Donald Young’s shirt hours before he lost a match played on the Grandstand court and broadcast on ESPN2." Player Camila Giorgi needed Karadza's "help affixing a patch from an 11th-hour sponsor, SuperTennis, an Italian tennis channel, to the front of a pale blue dress designed" by Giorgi's mother (NYTIMES.com, 9/3).
MAKING A POINT: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' John Eggerton notes the umpire chairs during ESPN2's early round coverage of the U.S. Open "were emblazoned with Time Warner Cable's name and logo." There "aren't many close-ups of the chair ... but maybe there will be enough to make TWC's point" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 9/2 issue).
SPELL-CHECK: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted souvenir soda cups sold by Notre Dame during its game against Temple on Saturday said "Figthing Irish" on them "instead of the team's properly spelled nickname." The incident "instantly became a laughing matter on social media." Notre Dame Assistant VP/PR Dennis Brown said, "It's an institutional responsibility, we're not going to be blaming individuals" (ESPN.com, 9/3).