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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

NASCAR plans to expand the rights it offers its official spirits sponsor, ending its conservative approach to the category.

The sanctioning body’s agreement with Diageo, a seven-year deal valued at $2 million a year, ends this year, and under terms of the current agreement, Diageo can’t refer to itself as an official partner of NASCAR or use the sport’s logo and imagery at retail.

NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell said the sport will relax those restrictions in 2012 and encourage its partner in the category to promote its affiliation with the sport at retail and in advertising.

The move should allow the sport to increase the sponsorship fee in the category and give the sport more exposure at retail.

“The more activation our partners do, the better for everybody,” O’Connell said. “It helps us reach more fans and helps them get a better return on investment.”

O’Connell said NASCAR is in discussions with Diageo about renewing and hopes that it will stick with the sport. He said that the sport wouldn’t look to break up the spirits category into subsets such as official whiskey. He added, “Our preference is to maintain partnerships. We don’t want churn.”

NASCAR first lifted a ban on allowing liquor sponsorships on cars in 2005. After it did, Jack Daniel’s, owned by Brown Forman; Jim Beam, owned by Fortune Brands; and Diageo’s Crown Royal began sponsoring cars.

Both Jack Daniels and Jim Beam ended their sponsorships in 2009, citing declines in the sport. Diageo’s Crown Royal brand continues to sponsor Roush-Fenway Racing’s No. 17 car driven by Matt Kenseth. That deal ends this year.

Just Marketing International CEO Zak Brown, whose agency manages Diageo’s NASCAR sponsorship, said the spirits company plans to stay in the sport and is evaluating whether it will do so by spending on team, track or sanctioning body partnerships.

Brown said that NASCAR’s decision to loosen restrictions on the category was a positive for the sport and the spirits category.

“With the time that’s gone by, it’s only logical for NASCAR to embrace this category and market with it because they’re great marketers,” Brown said. “It’s the right category to open up and the right time to do it.”

The Mexican brewery that has become boxing’s most active and visible U.S. sponsor is building what it expects to be its largest retail promotion ever around Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming bout against Shane Mosley, backing its usual pay-per-view rebate with commemorative cans featuring the fighters and creating bilingual promotional materials for the first time.

Tecate will produce about 100,000 cases — or more than 1 million of the 24-ounce cans — for distribution in participating stores in the Western U.S., Texas and Illinois beginning the first week in April. It also will run a national program offering a $25 rebate on purchases of the pay-per-view in all states that allow it.

The brewery anticipates reaching about 20,000 stores with the commemorative cans and eclipsing 50,000 stores with the overall promotion built around the May 7 fight, which coincides with the Cinco de Mayo holiday that annually provides one of Tecate’s three best sales periods.

It typically produces about 80,000 cases of commemorative cans and reaches about 10,000 stores with its pay-per-view promotion.

Along with the mainstream attraction of Pacquiao, Tecate expects a boost from a longer lead time than it has gotten for most big fights, which as of late have come together on the fly after protracted negotiations. Last year’s Mayweather-Mosley card wasn’t locked down until the first week of February. The details for Pacquiao’s fight against Antonio Margarito last November in Dallas weren’t finalized until the last week of August. Pacquiao-Mosely was set late in December.

“Things are so different when you have time to plan these things,” said Carlos Boughton, brand director for Tecate. “We’ve become very efficient in turning these promotions around with very little lead time. But if you have more time, it’s wonderful.”

Tecate has developed a nimble, plug-and-play promotional strategy as it has emerged as boxing’s signature sponsor. It says it can get a robust promotional program to retail nationally on two months notice and can cover all of its key markets in as little as six weeks. But, given the extra time, it expects to gain greater acceptance for the program, which requires retailers to provide floor space in exchange for the marketing materials.

The program has been popular with Hispanic grocers since Tecate entered boxing in 2007. The brewery thinks that, by creating promotional materials in Spanish and English, it can gain greater penetration in general market retail chains.

Boughton has often explained that Tecate’s play in boxing is built around connecting with the most marketable fights, regardless of whether the fighters are Hispanic, because Spanish-speaking boxing fans have proved that they’ll purchase big-event pay-per-views regardless of the fighters’ ethnicity. A study prepared for promoter Top Rank and Leverage Agency in 2009 found that 13 percent of Hispanics had purchased pay-per-view boxing in the prior year, compared with 2 percent of non-Hispanics.

Along with the promotional tools it typically brings to a big fight — such as a mobile boxing museum that will tour stores across the country — Tecate this week will launch its first full-fledged social networking play, a Tecate boxing Facebook page that will aggregate boxing news and also deliver original content, such as highlights from fights it sponsors and interviews leading up to big events.

While viewers will find Tecate across most U.S. boxing telecasts, be they on HBO, Showtime or Spanish-language cable, they no longer will see the otherwise ubiquitous beer logo on the mat of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.”

Tecate did not renew with the series this year, choosing instead to sponsor more cards on Spanish-language channels Telefutura and Fox Deportes. Tecate began sponsoring “Friday Night Fights” in 2009, when Telefutura canceled its once popular “Solo Boxeo” series. When Golden Boy Promotions revived “Solo Boxeo” last May, it landed Tecate as the presenting sponsor. Top Rank Promotions also landed Tecate as sponsor of a show it launched last year on Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Net.

“We had to make a very, very hard choice on how we were going to source the funds for a full year of ‘Solo Boxeo,’” said Carlos Boughton, brand director for Tecate. “We ended up deciding to exit ‘Friday Night Fights.’ Nothing to do with performance. Nothing to do with budget reductions. It was mostly a fund allocation decision.”

Along with delivering more programming than ESPN, the two promoters also have worked with Tecate to put the fights in locales and venues that allow the brewer to build local retail promotions and entertain customers at the events, Boughton said.

— Bill King

Powerade was attracted to MLL’s ability to integrate league, team marks in one deal.
Major League Lacrosse has secured Powerade to replace Gatorade as the official sports drink and sideline beverage.

Powerade’s two-year deal will kick in this season, which begins in May and runs through the end of August.
Financial specifics were not available, but official partnerships typically range from the low six figures up to seven figures. Powerade’s deal is thought to be among the more lucrative for the six-team outdoor league.

The sideline deal means that Powerade marks will be on towels, coolers and bottles of the isotonic drink. A package of at least six MLL games is expected to be televised by ESPN, and all of the games will be broadcast either via syndication or streamed live online.

The deal includes Powerade signs at the events and ad inventory on all of the broadcasts.

“This is certainly one of the most visible positions you can get when you’re watching one of our games,” said David Gross, commissioner of the MLL. “But this is also huge for us because we’ve been trying to get in with the Coca-Cola family for a decade. We’re obviously starting with Powerade and we hope this will grow into a deeper relationship.”

Sharon Byers, vice president of integrated marketing, sports and entertainment for Coca-Cola North America, said lacrosse made sense as a platform for Powerade “to reach the next generation of athletes. Lacrosse is a fast-growing sport, and we’re excited to be able to come in at the highest level with MLL and show our passion for the sport.”

Byers said Powerade was drawn to MLL’s ability to integrate league and team rights into a single package.

“The unique thing is that it’s one of the sports that you can own from top to bottom,” she said. “With a lot of league deals, it’s hard to break through, but with the MLL, you get it all, from the teams to the games to the All-Star [Game] to the championship. It provides you a chance to have a full 360-degree activation plan.”

Byers said that the activation plan still is in the works but that there will be media, retail and social media aspects to the program.

DePuy Mitek, a PGA Tour official marketing partner and sponsor of the tour’s mobile health and fitness facility, will highlight three golfers in a series of vignettes throughout the spring and summer on

The Johnson & Johnson company is working with tour stars Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry to chronicle their workouts in a series of 60-second and 90-second videos produced by PGA Tour Entertainment. Cink, Furyk and Perry will also answer questions in each episode about their eating and health habits.

The golfers were chosen because of the frequency with which they visit the tour’s health and fitness trailer and because they represent varying age groups: Cink in his 30s, Furyk in his 40s and Perry in his 50s — essentially the demographic sweet spot for the tour’s audience as well as the customer base for Orthovisc, the DePuy Mitek brand therapy that treats osteoarthritis of the knee.

Eight vignettes for each of the three golfers are being prepared and they’ll debut on’s fitness section in early April. One will run each week for a total of 24 weeks.

“Some of the most popular facets of are the segments that offer visitors a sneak peek into the players as people, so this is a chance to get a few tips from the pros and integrate what they do as they prepare to play golf,” said Lisa Huston, senior product director for Orthovisc.

DePuy Mitek is the orthopaedic sports medicine division of Johnson & Johnson and Orthovisc is the consumer brand that it activates through the tour partnership. The PGA Tour struck the deal with DePuy Mitek in 2009 and it runs through this year. Official marketing partnerships can range from the low seven figures to high seven figures depending on how much media is involved. The company also has an expo presence at several PGA Tour and Champions Tour events throughout the season to educate consumers on knee pain and treatment.

Cink, Furyk and Perry will not be endorsing the Orthovisc brand in the spots or talking about the product, but some of the branding that’s typically seen in the health and fitness trailer will be visible in the background.

“DePuy has done a good job positioning itself around health and activity,” said Lee Bushkell, vice president and general manager of “If they’re able to align themselves with players and the tour around health and activity, it’s a good way to get people talking about the medical piece of their business.”

The relationship between the golfers and DePuy Mitek isn’t a traditional endorsement deal.

“They’re not wearing our logo or endorsing the product,” Huston said. “It’s just an opportunity for us to align ourselves with the guys who use the health and fitness trailers on a regular basis and show how they stay fit and active. It’s just a different way to get to know the players better.”

DePuy Mitek worked with GMR Marketing on the vignettes. The players will be involved in a social media aspect to the program as well, sending Twitter messages associated with their visits to the health and fitness mobile facility.