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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Two of Michael Waltrip Racing’s sponsors are “reviewing their relationships" with the team following its "attempt to manipulate the finish" of Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Int’l Raceway, according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. NAPA Auto Parts today posted on its Facebook page that it is "disappointed that a partner would make 'such a significant error in judgment.'" NAPA is the sponsor for Martin Truex Jr., who was “kicked out of the Chase for the Sprint Car championship when NASCAR sanctioned MWR for its actions in Saturday night’s race.” Fellow MWR Driver Clint Bowyer’s sponsor 5-Hour Energy “tweeted it is reviewing its sponsorship relations internally” (AP, 9/11).

NOT ENOUGH? In Toronto, Dean McNulty wrote of the penalties levied against MWR, "My immediate reaction was 'Is that all?'" The effect of the "whole thing was to discredit NASCAR and MWR has done it in spades." NASCAR President Mike Helton "should have suspended the entire MWR organization from racing for the rest of the season." MWR Owner Michael Waltrip "should have been banned for life from NASCAR" (, 9/10). In Greensboro, Ed Hardin wrote in the "old days, back before Twitter and Toyota, this would’ve been handled on the track." It used to be "about money and putting food on the table." Now is "about perception on ESPN" (, 9/10). ESPN's Marty Smith said NASCAR "wanted this to be a company-wide penalty that really damaged" MWR. Smith: "If that's the case, then why is only one person suspended right now, Ty Norris the General Manager?" ("OTL," ESPN, 9/10). SPORTS ON EARTH's Matt Crossman writes, "NASCAR officials have a long and glorious reputation of bringing bazookas to knife fights and knives to bazooka fights." Sometimes they "shrug like Bud Selig," sometimes they "go all judge, jury and executioner like Roger Goodell." They did "both in this case" (, 9/11).

JL Sports Dir of Operations Tom Kleine, whose firm represents Joe Flacco, said that the Ravens QB will appear in a national TV ad for McDonald's "to debut some time over the next 10 days," according to Ryan Sharrow of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The commercial was "filmed in mid-July" while Flacco was in L.A. for the ESPYs. Kleine said that in the spot, Flacco "pitches a new McDonald's product" and appears alongside "another recognizable face." Flacco, just hours after signing a six-year, $120M contract extension in March, celebrated by "ordering chicken McNuggets at the drive-thru window of an Aberdeen McDonald's." Kleine said that McDonald's, by "coincidence or not, reached out to Flacco not long after." He added that Flacco "had already been in discussions with other fast-food chains about endorsements." Kleine declined to disclose financial terms of the multiyear deal. He said that since the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory, Flacco has "seen interest spike from companies looking to ink a deal." Kleine said that Flacco this year "turned down a deal from a big company in the food industry" (, 9/10).

Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza said that the net this week leading up to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez fight on Saturday night "will roll out the lion's share" of its nearly $80M marketing and promotion campaign for the event, according to R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Mayweather's "enduring popularity with young, urban viewers 18-24," combined with Alvarez' "appeal to women, prompted the premium programmer to tweak its marketing approach." Showtime in addition to "attracting sponsors in traditional categories such as beer (Corona) and automotive (O'Reilly Auto Parts and Valvoline Motor Oil) ... has also tapped health and wellness company Nature Nutrition as a first-time sponsor to appeal to a broader audience." Other "non-traditional sponsors include the Mexican Tourism Boards and Fred Loya Insurance" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 9/9 issue).

MONEY TALKS: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Bill King reports Espinoza "has been struck by the clamor surrounding" the fight. Espinoza said, "If we could convert that enthusiasm into pay-per-view buys we’d be doing 12 million pay-per-view buys. It will be an interesting experiment to see how it converts." Though evolutions in technology and viewing habits "make it unlikely that any fight will break the pay-per-view record of 2.4 million" set by a Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight in '07, Mayweather-Alvarez has "a chance to eclipse that bout as the most lucrative PPV ever ($132 million) and is on pace to make boxing history in most other categories." Corona distributor Crown Imports is "backing the fight with its largest retail activation in sports, with point-of-purchase displays in 15,000 retail outlets across 32 states." The brand "cut its own commercial spot promoting the fight, as did another sponsor, AT&T." Corona will "devote about $6 million worth of on-air media, airing spots during sports programming on NBC, ESPN, Fox and the NFL Network," while AT&T "will devote" $1.6M (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/9 issue).

PACKAGE DEAL: In Las Vegas, Steve Carp reported promoters of the fight "saw an opportunity to sell boxing beyond the hard-core fans" and "added two more world title fights to morph it into one of the best fight cards Las Vegas has seen in years." However, while the two undercard title fights "add depth to the event, it ultimately might not translate into additional pay-per-view buys." Espinoza "had said as much earlier this summer." He is "hoping that the casual boxing fans who buy the fight are entertained throughout the telecast" by the undercard fights "enough that they will be repeat customers" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/9).

Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga yesterday said that the Japan-based company "would like to extend its long-running Olympic sponsorship to take it up to 2020 when Tokyo will host the Games," according to Klaus Lauer of REUTERS. Panasonic has been a sponsor of the Games since '87, "providing cameras used to relay the action to sports fans around the world and big screens at events." However, its Olympic sponsorship agreement expires after the '16 Rio Games and the company is "having to reshape its business" after losing $15B over the past two years. Tsuga said, "If we could expand that contract, we would be happy" (REUTERS, 9/10).

The new owners of Maryland-based lacrosse retailer Lax World plan to "ride the sport's mushrooming popularity to rapidly expand the small retail chain and establish it as the go-to brand for lacrosse gear nationwide," according to Lorraine Mirabella of the Baltimore SUN. Lax World CEO Frank Barbarino, a former Senior VP/Merchandising for Jos. A. Bank, and his partners bought the chain from founder Jim Darcangelo in August "for an undisclosed price." His partners include COO Bobby Martino, who has "been with Lax World for 23 years, most recently" as VP; and Exec VP/Inventory Management and stores Michael Stewart, a former Jos. A. Bank VP/Planning. Lax World currently operates five stores in Maryland, with "a half dozen spread in Virginia, Georgia and Colorado." The owners plan to "open 40 to 50 stores, both in existing and new markets, in the next five to six years." They also want to "improve the website to increase online sales and expand the wholesale business, which now accounts for about 45 percent of sales and targets lacrosse programs and teams" (Baltimore SUN, 9/10).