Nationwide Insurance will exit its title sponsorship of NASCAR's secondary series following the '14 season, but the company plans to increase its spending in the sport by sponsoring a Sprint Cup team, buying media, cutting track deals and maintaining its position as NASCAR's official insurer. Nationwide is in the sixth year of a seven year series title sponsorship. The title rights and media package cost approximately $8M a year. Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius said the deal, which was signed in '07, had helped the company expand its business and earn the respect and trust of avid NASCAR fans. By increasing its sponsorship in the Sprint Cup, where it currently sponsors Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and continuing to endorse and feature Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in advertising during Cup races, he hopes the company can expand brand awareness with casual NASCAR fans. Jauchius said, "Being a series sponsor was the right thing at that particular time but we see Sundays (for Cup races) as the next step. You'll see us lean into this even more at the Cup level. ... I will spend more money in 2014 and 2015 (in NASCAR) by shifting assets around a bit." NASCAR plans to begin searching for a new title sponsor immediately. That effort will be led by Chief Sales Officer Jim O'Connell.
STRATEGY SIMILAR TO GOLF: Jauchius compared Nationwide's shift in strategy to what the company did in golf. After years of title sponsoring the PGA Tour's secondary tour, the company ended the deal and became the title sponsor of The Memorial tournament. It increased its advertising on CBS around the Tour and Jauchius said the company's analysis showed the move "worked well." He added, "We see this as the exact same strategy in NASCAR." Nationwide contractually had to make a decision about the future of its title sponsorship this month. Jauchius said that NASCAR's new TV deals with Fox and NBC, which will shift the Nationwide Series from the more-widely distributed ESPN to FS1 and NBCSN, did not affect the company's decision. Nationwide plans to advertise with both broadcasters in the future.
Under Armour yesterday formally announced a deal with St. John’s Univ. "to provide all sports gear for the school's department" through the '18-19 academic year, according to Sarah Meehan of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal marks UA's "first all-sports contract in the basketball rich Big East" and gives the company "an expanded presence" in N.Y. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. St. John's, which has been linked to UA since June, previously had an apparel deal with Nike (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg noted St. John's in non-conference basketball games next season "will wear jerseys featuring a silhouette of the Manhattan skyline across the bottom of the shorts and the lettering of the jersey tops." St. John's will "ditch the skyline look once Big East play begins in favor of a cleaner style that harkens back to the jerseys" the school wore during the '80s. The "biggest difference is the old-school lettering and numerals across the front, along with the interlocking SJ on the sides of the shorts" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/17).
Travelers Insurance has "received an extension past September from the PGA Tour to negotiate an extension of its title sponsorship" of the annual Hartford tournament, according to Joe Morelli of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER. Title sponsorship extensions beyond the '13-14 PGA Tour season "were supposed to be wrapped up by month’s end." Travelers Championship Exec VP & Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette said that the company "wants to remain in its current dates the week following the U.S. Open in June." But "of concern" are the '16 Rio Games, when golf "will be an Olympic sport for the first time since 1904." Bessette plans to meet with Tour officials today at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Travelers Championship Tournament Dir Nathan Grube also will "be there to visit with the 30 players in the field." Bessette in June said that the new extension "could be in the two- to four-year range." He "declined to speak specifics on that Monday, but did say he and the tour want this deal done before the end of the calendar year" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 9/17). Bessette said that there are "questions how Olympic teams will be selected." In Hartford, Tom Yantz reports should qualifying tournaments be held the "same week as the Travelers Championship, it could affect the field in Cromwell." Bessette said of the contract talks, "'Negotiation' is the wrong word. It's not all negotiations. It's fact finding." Yantz notes in addition to "questions about the Olympic golf selection process, there is contract language concerning digital and social media and their impact on Travelers Companies Inc., an official marketing partner of the tour." Travelers has been the tournament sponsor since '07 (COURANT.com, 9/17).
CLOSE IN CHARLOTTE: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reports Wells Fargo has yet to announce its "expected sponsorship extension" of the annual Tour stop in Charlotte, but Quail Hollow Golf Club President Johnny Harris "likes his chances." The current contracts between the PGA Tour, the golf course and Wells Fargo "all end after the 2014 tournament." However, Harris said, "Things are fairly close. We're working this thing out" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/18).
LEFT HANGING: GOLFWEEK's Schupak & Miceli note Valspar's four-year title sponsorship agreement for the PGA Tour stop in Tampa "left Puerto Rico holding yet another consolation prize from the PGA Tour." Puerto Rico Open Tournament Dir Sidney Wolf said the event "was prepared to do something big" to land an unencumbered spot on the Tour calendar. But Wolf now is "weighing his event's options, which could include the European Tour, when the contract expires" in '14. Wolf: "I'd love to stay with the (PGA) Tour, but they have nothing for us. They never gave us an option" (GOLFWEEK, 9/20 issue).
Colts QB Andrew Luck said he is excited about gaining an equity share of BodyArmor as part of his new endorsement deal with the drink company because he feels "like I'm fully invested in the future of the company." Luck said, "Hopefully we can help the company grow and get the product out to a bunch of people." He said, "I was drinking BodyArmor a lot in the off-season as I was working out over a year ago and so I told my agent about it and how much I enjoyed it. He contacted the folks at BodyArmor. In part of the negotiations, the equity idea came up" ("Money Moves," Bloomberg TV, 9/17).
Charles will be featured in a series of social media
spots as part of his new deal with Puma
A HAUL FOR JAMAAL: Puma announced a two-year deal with Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, who will endorse the company's training category and appear in its Nature of Performance campaigns. A series of social media videos titled "Get To Know Jamaal" debuts on various platforms next week. Charles joins a Puma training team of endorsers that includes sprinter Usain Bolt, Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson, action sports star Dave Mirra and EPL club Stoke City MF Maurice Edu (Puma). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport wrote on his Twitter account that Charles "takes the place of Aaron Hernandez, who Puma dropped in June" (TWITTER.com, 9/17). PATER FAMILIAS: Former NFLer Archie Manning appears with his sons Peyton and Eli in DirecTV’s recent “Football On Your Phone” TV spot and noted it is the latest installment of a "15-year relationship our family has had with DirecTV.” Manning said of his NFL QB sons, "I never thought about them being big pitch men. I don’t think that’s a goal to have. I think if you’ll look at their history, the associations they have and the partnerships, corporate partners they have, it’s quality. And also, it speaks well -- I’ve always thought -- if you’re going to have a relationship like that, you hope it’s not just a quick one; that it’s something that’s meaningful, you’re really part of something within the company" (THE DAILY).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins “makes a cameo” in a spot for Michigan-based supermarket chain Meijer. It is the “first official television ad” featuring Cousins, who played at Michigan State (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/16).
The Sharks announced a multiyear, seven-figure partnership with San Jose-based Fry's Electronics to become the team's official retailer for consumer electronics through '16. Fry's signage beginning this season will be located throughout SAP Center, including a pair of dasherboards as well as the company's logo painted on the ice. Additionally, Fry's will sponsor the "Out of Town Scoreboard" in-game feature. Fry's will get exclusive advertising on LCD displays throughout the main concourse of SAP Center and Sharks Ice at San Jose, while Sharks Ice Fremont also will display Fry's dasherboards (Sharks).
PIRATES' BOOTY: In Pittsburgh, Thomas Olson notes sales of Pirates merchandise in stores that specialize in local pro sports items "for many weeks have run double or even triple those of the past seasons when the Pirates were hardly contenders" for a playoff spot. Several stores compared fan turnout to the early '90s, "when the team battled for the pennant." Hometowne Sports Manager Annie Tinnick said that foot traffic from the Pirates is "double year-ago levels." Sports Deli Owner Michael Autieri said that he "expects Pirates-related sales will surge even more 'when they get to the playoffs'" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/18).
CAMERA SHY: ESPN's Jayson Stark noted there are not many MLBers in major TV marketing campaigns and said, "For baseball to get to that place where it has one, or two, or three, or even a half dozen major faces of the game, it's going to require a massive cultural change within the sport." Stark: "The culture of the clubhouse is that they don't like it when players step out and say, 'Look at me,' or call attention to themselves in all sorts of ways. Teams don't like it and front offices don't like it. It's very difficult for a team or for the sport to promote a player because of all that backlash" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/17).