NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson confirmed that Red Bull is "one of the companies he and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team have had discussions with about possible sponsorship beginning next season," according to Jim Utter of MOTORSPORT.com. Johnson said, "There is definitely some interest there. ... There is interest from a variety of different companies." Utter noted Red Bull operated a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team for five seasons "before shutting its doors" in December '11. Lowe's has been Johnson's "primary sponsor" since joining the Cup Series full-time in '02. The home improvement store chain announced earlier this season that '18 would "be its final year as a primary sponsor." Johnson has "taken an active role in the sponsorship search." He said, "We will hopefully have something to announce in the near future" (MOTORSPORT.com, 5/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg wrote any company or companies who "elect to sponsor Johnson will likely want to spend serious activation money." The pairing of Lowe's and Johnson became "one of the most recognizable in the sport's history and it will take a serious marketing push to get casual fans to understand that Johnson is no longer sponsored by Lowe's" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/24). AUTOWEEK's Kenny Bruce noted Monster Energy holds title sponsorship to the Cup Series through '19, and it is not known if Monster's deal "includes an exclusivity clause that would prohibit competitors like Red Bull from sponsorship opportunities" (AUTOWEEK.com, 5/24).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Wyndham Hotel Group (WHG) will run its second paint scheme this weekend as a Roush Fenway Racing primary sponsor under the Wyndham Rewards banner, but the company plans to use several different brands as the deal goes on. Wyndham last month announced a new sponsorship with RFR’s No. 6 Cup Series Ford driven by Matt Kenseth, and the company will serve as primary seven times this year before the deal grows to a greater number of primaries next season. WHG VP/Worldwide Loyalty & Partnerships Eliot Hamlisch said the company could utilize its Super 8, Ramada, Days Inn and Howard Johnson. Hamlisch: “One of the most exciting aspects of WHG is we’ve got 20 brands, 8,000 hotels across 80 countries in the world, and many of those brands are really iconic brands that have become household names over time. So in addition to the common theme that unites them -- Wyndham Rewards -- I think it’s likely you’ll see different brands take advantage of that (primary sponsorship) opportunity as well to build awareness in upcoming races.” Regardless of the brand it uses on a given weekend, WHG is looking activating the deal in several different ways, including digital media, at-track hospitality with VIP experience winners, plus other giveaways and experiences that will be rolled into Wyndham Reward’s program, which has 56 million members. The company is looking at creating a sweepstakes that could include both hotel-redemption opportunities and non-hotel redemption opportunities, the latter of which including NASCAR-specific experiences like meet-and-greets with Kenseth. The company, which does its sports marketing with a mixture of in-house and external-agency work, is also looking to strike B2B deals in the sport -- both with Roush and other companies -- to have their employees stay at WHG properties.
The Capitals' advancement to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since '98 means Capital One Arena is guaranteed to host at least two games, and it "looks increasingly like" the Virginia-based bank's timing "could not have been better" when it struck a 10-year, $100M naming-rights deal last August, according to Andy Medici of the WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL. The higher profile is "definitely a win" for Capital One, "relatively soon after it inked the naming-rights deal." Capital One Arena "could host as many as three games, depending on how long the series goes." George Washington Univ. professor of sports management Lisa Delpy Neirotti said that the exposure will also "help Capital One shift the arena's brand away from the longstanding Verizon Center moniker that has become ingrained in the minds of people across Greater Washington." Neirotti: "Nobody is going to wake up one day and realize that Capital One is the naming-rights holder. This is just going to be more exposure for them and it will help us all remember and keep it in our heads that they have the naming rights." Medici notes the publicity that results from the "countless mentions in news articles, television coverage and by fans shows exactly what a good naming-rights deal can do for a company -- even one as widely advertised as Capital One" (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/25 issue).
Bud Light is breaking two new ads in its ongoing "Dilly Dilly" effort over Memorial Day Weekend, one of which is a FIFA World Cup-themed spot. The "World Cup is Coming" creative introduces Oracle Susana, a new character from the fictional "realm" Bud Light has created as part of its campaign. In the first-ever bilingual "Dilly Dilly" spot, the King travels to meet the Oracle, who offers a prediction about the upcoming World Cup: "Every four years, the world loses its mind" (THE DAILY). AD AGE's E.J. Schultz noted both spots are from Wieden + Kennedy, N.Y. A-B InBev is an official World Cup sponsor, "allowing it to tag the Bud Light ad with the phrase, 'The FIFA World Cup Is Here.'" The brewer "opted out of running Budweiser's World Cup TV ads" in the U.S., "despite the fact that the effort by Anomaly is described as the largest campaign" in A-B history. The Bud Light ad will "make an appeal to Hispanics, whose World Cup viewing will likely remain strong, considering the big role the sport plays in Hispanic culture and the fact that the Mexican team qualified for the Cup" (ADAGE.com, 5/24).
YOUTH MOVEMENT: ADWEEK's Jason Lynch noted FIFA itself is "rolling out several new spots that play up the excitement that younger soccer fans have for the upcoming tournament." Mandalay Sports Media "created five promos" for the World Cup, which "launch later this week and will air through June on Fox Sports, FS1, Telemundo and FIFA’s international broadcast partners." Mandalay Exec VP & Exec Producer Jon Weinbach said, "This was a dream assignment." Mandalay worked to "identify character archetypes, like 'hero,' 'warrior' and 'rebel,' and combine archival FIFA scenes with 'kinetic, hand-held footage' of youth soccer prospects." This was Mandalay’s "first time working with FIFA on a promo campaign." FIFA greenlit the campaign in March and Mandalay had to "deliver it in early May." The company worked with LAFC, and "featured junior players from the LAFC academy in the spots" (ADWEEK.com, 5/24).
Paysafe, a U.K.-based online payment processing company, is executing a brand re-launch around the Indianapolis 500. The company this year is making its initial foray into U.S. motorsports with a full-season sponsorship of Dale Coyne Racing's No. 19 IndyCar ride driven by Zach Claman DeMelo after a one-off single-race test sponsorship last year with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Paysafe CMO Oscar Nieboer said that the company is leveraging Sunday’s race as the initial launching point of a new brand strategy, which will see Paysafe unify several different sub-brands with varying names into one overarching Paysafe brand. Nieboer: “We’re going to make Paysafe stand unequivocally as the B2B franchise for direct merchants, and we are going to effectively double down on our B2B proposition in North America. We’re not creating a sub-brand; we have a lot of different propositions in processing, and we’re going to unify them to Paysafe in North America. That’s what our whole tagline of, ‘Plug Into Paysafe’ is all about -- one stop shop and you’re good to go.” After the car runs in Sunday’s race, Paysafe will follow up next week with more official announcements in the U.K. and U.S. about the move. Nieboer: “ The way we’re thinking about it is the car will be kind of the teaser and the first embodiement of the new brand and, ‘Plug Into Paysafe.’” Nieboer added that Paysafe is looking at possibly doubling down in its motorsports marketing spend in the U.S. in ’19, though he declined to say whether that would be growing in IndyCar or adding deals in other series like NASCAR.