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Volume 25 No. 109

Marketing and Sponsorship

Indiana-based Ruoff Home Mortgage is serving as the primary sponsor of Carlos Muñoz' No. 29 car attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and having a program "in place well in advance of May" has allowed the lender to "not only enjoy the month but also maximize the sponsorship effectiveness," according to Justin Kenny of the Ft. Wayne NEWS-SENTINEL. Ruoff President & CEO Mark Music "praised Andretti Autosport for its efforts to get its corporate and racing partners together in a hospitality setting at various points of the month" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Muñoz, who has four top-10 finishes in the Indy 500 in five starts, is a "one-off entry" for the race, but Ruoff will "continue to be a consistent presence on Andretti Autosport cars for the rest of the IndyCar season." It will be the "primary sponsor for the dual Detroit Grand Prix" for Alexander Rossi on June 9-10, as well as the primary sponsor for Marco Andretti in late July at Mid-Ohio. The company also will be an "associate sponsor for Andretti Autosport throughout the season." Ruoff last year signed to sponsor Andretti's ride for Takuma Sato "barely seven days" before Indy 500, meaning a lot of "networking, hospitality events and media outreach had to be compressed into a short period of time." Sato went on to win the race. Music said, "The odds to win the race back-to-back years are not very good. ... But we feel like we have as solid of a chance of winning as anybody to be relevant in the race" (Ft. Wayne NEWS-SENTINEL, 5/15).

GIVE ME THE WHEEL: In Indianapolis, Jim Ayello notes Muñoz "makes no qualms about his desire to return to a full-season slate" after driving a full IndyCar season the past four years. Muñoz knows he is "capable of much more than being relegated to one race a year." Other than "bringing a big-time sponsor to the table, he ticks almost all of the boxes for a driver deserving of a quality full-season ride" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/16).

AT&T has set up Wi-Fi with the capacity to handle the droves at Trinity Forest Golf Club

Dallas-based AT&T, upon becoming title sponsor of the PGA Tour Byron Nelson, looked to bring it to a new venue to "take the tournament forward and to take it to the next level," culminating with the event being held at the downtown Trinity Forest Golf Club for the first time this year, according to Repko & Hallman of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The event had been held in Irving, Texas, since '83, but AT&T wanted "more than its name on the tournament," which teed off this morning. AT&T has "set up Wi-Fi with the capacity to handle the droves" at the course and has "invested in tech infrastructure that will remain" in the Dallas area after the tournament ends. AT&T Int'l & Global Marketing Officer Lori Lee said that the company "wanted to sponsor the tournament because of its local roots, audience of prospective and current customers, and philanthropic mission." She added that AT&T "accelerated the pace of laying fiber in the surrounding neighborhood because of the golf club and the tournament." Repko & Hallman noted ticket sales for this week's tournament are "on track to beat last year's" figures. The tournament's move from Irving "culminates years of work" by AT&T, SMU and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which operates the event, to bring the tournament "back to the city where it began" in '44 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/16).

Langford's relationship with Adidas does not appear to have broken any laws or NCAA rules

Adidas "played a crucial role in giving its sponsored college teams ... a lift over the competition" in the recruitment of high school basketball player Romeo Langford, who subsequently chose to attend Indiana over Kansas and Vanderbilt, according to Will Hobson of the WASHINGTON POST. Former Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Adidas sources said that early last year, the brand "won a much-less-publicized recruiting battle with Nike and Under Armour for Langford, whose father had made it known that he wanted to run his own youth basketball team featuring his son." Adidas, Nike and UA "each operate basketball leagues, which they use to develop relationships with high school prospects they hope to sign to endorsement deals if they reach the NBA, and to steer top talent to their sponsored college teams." In January '17, Pitino said that two Adidas officials "met with him to discuss their efforts to keep Nike and Under Armour from landing Langford." Pitino said, "The way they phrased it, it was (whichever shoe company) was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it." A few days later, Adidas’ AAU league "added a new team: Twenty Two Vision, featuring Romeo Langford on the court" and his father, Tim Langford, as the team's director. Tim Langford "denied the sponsorship had any influence on his son's college decision." Langford’s recruiting "demonstrates the inextricable connections between apparel companies and college basketball programs, the subject of an ongoing Justice Department probe" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/17). In Indianapolis, Zach Osterman notes barring some "yet-to-be-uncovered misdeeds," Langford's relationship with Adidas does "not appear to have broken any laws or NCAA rules" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/17).

THE UNDEFEATED's Martenzie Johnson noted Harold Varner III is Jordan Brand's "second golf signee." Hornets President & Vice Chair Fred Whitfield, who previously worked at Jordan Brand, "believed Varner would be the perfect fit." Whitfield: "Harold’s got the DNA of what a Jordan Brand athlete epitomizes. He’s a hard worker. That’s really why I mentioned it to Michael [Jordan], because I thought he was unique and I thought that if he ever got hot out on the tour and could start to win out there, he’d be a great young man to have in the brand as an ambassador to really continue to grow the Jordan Brand halo outside of just basketball players." Varner said that moving to Jordan Brand after a two-year deal with Oxford was a "no-brainer." Varner: "If you pass that up, that wouldn't be smart" (, 5/16).

SLINGING ICE: In Tampa, Howard Altman notes locally-based Ackerman Jewelers "carries quite an assortment of the shiniest Bolts bling" courtesy of its sponsorship deal with the Lightning. There are "silver or gold men's cuff links starting at about $65 and silver earrings starting at about $50" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/17).

A GOOD DAY TO DYEHARD: In Louisville, Carolyn Tribble Greer noted WinStar Farms, which owns Kentucky Derby winner Justify, has "signed a merchandising agreement" for the horse with Winston-Salem-based e-commerce company Dyehard Fan Supply. Dyehard will "handle merchandise for Justify immediately and will have merchandise at Pimlico Race Course" for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (, 5/16).

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