NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. on Friday signed a multiyear deal with Furniture Row Racing and "left open the possibility that NAPA, plus other sponsors he has worked with over the years, might join Furniture Row to make for the most powerful one-car team since the multicar concept began to dominate Cup racing in the 1990s," according to Ed Hinton of ESPN.com. The deal "had been expected since his primary sponsor, NAPA, pulled out of his branch of Michael Waltrip Racing in September." Truex said of NAPA, "They've been great supporters of mine the last four years, and hopefully we'll be able to do something together. ... We've got a lot of great partners that are interested in the program and hopefully, moving forward, we'll be able to put some things together with them" (ESPN.com, 11/1). Truex said, "Furniture Row Racing has been high on my radar. The team has done a great job this year. It's a talented organization, and it has been impressive to see what they've accomplished over the past few seasons" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/2).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Ogilvy & Mather is working for NASCAR on an initiative that "pulls together the NASCAR brand, teams, drivers, fans and sponsors to cheer on their favorite cars and drivers through the use of #whatdriversneed across all their social sites," according to Noreen O'Leary of ADWEEK. Drivers will "also get hashtags," such as Jimmie Johnson’s #what48needs. The campaign's focus "is Twitter and Instagram, with support on NASCAR.com, Facebook, TV, radio and in print." NASCAR VP/Marketing Kim Brink said, "This is our first big digital push, but every year going forward will have a digital focus. We’ve created an ecosystem where everyone is codependent in a good way." The campaign "was a factor in driving digital growth," as after five weeks, NASCAR has "added 25,000 Facebook fans, 20,000 Twitter followers, 46,000 YouTube subscribers and 1,000 Instagram followers." In addition, there have been "3,000 Twitter posts and 10 million impressions." Brink joined NASCAR in '11 from General Motors, where she "got to know top owners and drivers through Chevrolet’s NASCAR brand partnerships." Aside from "creating a more ambitious social and digital strategy, she is looking to elevate drivers’ profiles with help from the likes of ESPN, which is airing spots featuring NASCAR hashtags." Ogilvy and ESPN agency Wieden + Kennedy "coordinated their work" (ADWEEK.com, 11/3).
SodaStream is "headed back to the Super Bowl, where it plans to take direct aim at Coke and Pepsi with a 30-second ad in the fourth quarter" of Fox' broadcast of the game, according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. The ad "has not been submitted for approval because it is still in development." SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said, "It will be edgy because that is who we are." The company "has not picked an agency" for the spot. Birnbaum said that Crispin Porter + Bogusky Founder Alex Bogusky, who worked on the company's '13 ad, is "on the company's short list." Birnbaum said that SodaStream "sought a fourth-quarter time slot because it wanted to follow any Coke and Pepsi ads." PepsiCo is "sponsoring halftime and is planning to air two 30-second beverage ads, while Coca-Cola has yet to confirm its Super Bowl plans." Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been "under attack for the role their products play in obesity." SodaStream "promotes its flavors as having less sugar, calories, carbohydrates and sodium than traditional sodas." Fox is "expected to fetch roughly" $4M for a 30-second Super Bowl spot. Birnbaum said that the amount "roughly equals what SodaStream typically pays for TV advertising over three months in the U.S." He said the Super Bowl investment is a "big decision" and "we don't take it lightly." But he added the move is "bigger than the money" (ADAGE.com, 11/1).
IN OR OUT? Schultz writes running a Super Bowl spot "just might be the most expensive and high-risk decision in all of advertising." For every "success story," there is a "high-profile flop like Groupon's much-criticized ad" in '11 "making light of the plight of Tibet." Meanwhile, the '14 Sochi Games present "a variable that's been absent" since '10. The Olympics "begin just five days after the Super Bowl, giving marketers another marquee event for their winter ad dollars." Century 21 is "among those choosing to invest in the weeks-long spectacle over the one big night." But for many brands, "nothing compares to the domestic reach of the Super Bowl." The event has "proved to be a great venue for smaller brands." Birnbaum said that SodaStream "credits its 2013 ad with helping grow distribution to about 16,000 stores from roughly 10,000." Wonderful Pistachios also is returning in '14 "after making its Super Bowl debut" in '13. Paramount Farms VP/Marketing Marc Segiun said that because the company's Wonderful Pistachios brand "ran limited TV ads in the winter period, it was able to directly link an 18% sales gain to the in-game ad." Subway CMO Tony Pace said that the company "is planning a big Olympic presence" instead of placement during the Super Bowl. Pace said, "You can make an argument that the total cumulative audience across the Winter Olympics is actually bigger than what you are going to get in the Super Bowl" (AD AGE, 11/4 issue).
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's return from injury has been "as much about selling the 'Gronk' brand" as it has been about getting back on the field, according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. When his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, announced on Oct. 18 that Gronkowski was "cleared to play two days later against the Jets, Team Gronk used the occasion to hawk merchandise." Gronkowski next Monday "will be hosting his Football 101 Women’s Clinic at Harvard Stadium, where campers can sip on 'Gronk-tinis.'" A video surfaced last week of animated TV program “The Gronks,” a "whimsical show about the crazy, R-rated adventures of Papa Gronk and his five boys that their managers are shopping." Gronkowski went on a book tour last summer "to promote 'Growing Up Gronk,' the authorized biography about Gordie Gronkowski and his sons." There is "nothing wrong with Gronkowski’s people protecting their investment and trying to make a buck, as his window as a marketable star may be small." But it also is "fair to wonder if Gronk the brand is becoming too much of a priority over Gronk the football player" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/3). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote of "The Gronks" possibly getting picked up, "And we wonder why the rest of the world hates America" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/2).
EA Studios Exec VP Patrick Soderlund said that the end of the company's relationship with Tiger Woods was "more business than anything else." He said, "It's more normal course of business and actually not so dramatic. To me, it's, 'Okay, we're making a golf game. Tiger's not going to be on the cover of it. That's fine by me.'" Regarding the company's "Madden NFL" franchise, he pointed out that "nothing in that relationship had changed." He said EA remains "very, very committed to football and our ambition is to keep making football games" with no plans to change the Madden affiliation (POLYGON.com, 11/2).
JOHNNY LAWSUIT: In Dallas, Jeff Mosier reported the family of Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and a local T-shirt maker "appear to have settled their differences over trademark claims." JMAN2 Enterprises, a company controlled by Manziel's family, sued Eric Vaughan last week "over his 'Keep Calm and Johnny Football' T-shirt." A federal filing in the Eastern District of Texas indicates "the parties have settled their differences on a 'confidential basis.'" The lawsuit, filed in February, claimed that Vaughan did not "have the rights to profit off Manziel’s Johnny Football nickname" (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/1).
NOTES: Toyota recently signed a one-year deal with IMG College, establishing a sponsorship between the automaker and the Univ. of Michigan. The deal spans the '13-14 school year and involves radio and Internet promotions for Toyota during the school's football, men's basketball and hockey seasons (Toyota)....Golf HOFer Gary Player and Germany-based bank Berenberg on Friday announced a three-year partnership in which he will serve as a global ambassador for the bank (Berenberg)....Perry Ellis Int’l confirmed that it will expand its apparel licensee partnership with Callaway Golf to design, manufacture and sell golf apparel across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Perry Ellis).