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Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

A rendering of the oversized TaylorMade club
An 80-foot re-creation of TaylorMade’s new R11 driver has been installed in San Diego’s Petco Park following a new three-year sponsorship deal between the Carlsbad, Calif.-based golf equipment manufacturer and the Padres.

The oversized driver will run parallel to the ballpark’s right-field foul pole and appear in two parts: the driver shaft, which is in three dimensions and stands entirely in fair territory, and a 14-by-8-foot photograph of the club’s white head on the outfield wall.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We’re working to build innovative partnerships and really tap into San Diego-area based companies to create a uniquely San Diego experience at the ballpark,” said Padres president and chief operating officer Tom Garfinkel. “So having the support of an iconic, locally based brand like this is really key for us.”

TaylorMade will retain rights in the deal to change out the driver for other products in future years. Initial talks on the pact began casually last year between Padres chief executive and vice chairman Jeff Moorad and Mark King, TaylorMade’s president and chief executive. Several ideas were discussed before their respective creative teams developed a club shaft-as-foul pole concept.

MLB rules, however, dictate that foul poles must be yellow, or orange in the case of the New York Mets’ Citi Field. And the consistent tubular shape of foul poles does not lend itself to the widening shaft and grip of a golf club, prompting the Padres and TaylorMade to line up the driver just inside the right-field foul pole at Petco Park.

“We had to match the dimensions of the shaft and grip and build it to scale,” said Bob Maggiore, TaylorMade vice president of global marketing. “It had to look realistic, or as realistic as an 81-foot golf club can look.”

The Padres-TaylorMade deal recalls some other more unusual MLB club sponsorships in connection with stadium foul poles, most notably the Houston Astros’ deal with Chick-fil-A. Since 2006, the Astros have held a prominent foul pole deal at Minute Maid Park featuring the quick-serve restaurant brand’s iconic cows on the “fowl” pole itself, though that deal did not particularly come up during the Padres’ discussions with MLB’s baseball operations department on its partnership with TaylorMade.

The giant driver is made of aluminum and was scheduled to debut last Thursday for a Padres game against Philadelphia. LPGA player and TaylorMade endorser Natalie Gulbis was to throw out the first pitch for the game and hit a restricted-flight golf ball for TV crews.

There is also a charitable component to the sponsorship deal, as TaylorMade will donate $600 for every Padres home run to Solutions For Change, a San Diego-based nonprofit aiding the homeless.

Early sales returns for TaylorMade’s R11 driver show that the white head is making an impact with consumers. The company has shipped more R11 drivers in the first three months of this year than it did for all of 2010 with last year’s product, the R9 SuperTri.

Four months after losing prominent boxing sponsor Tecate from its “Friday Night Fights” show, ESPN has replaced the Mexican beer brand with its far-larger competitor, Corona.

The nation’s No. 1 selling import beer debuted last week as presenting sponsor of the “Friday Night Fights” broadcast on both ESPN2 and Deportes. The sponsorship mirrors the dominant position Tecate held, with placement on the ring mat and in the corners, in studio, online and in print, as well as presenting sponsorship of ESPN Deportes’ weekly “Golpe a Golpe” boxing studio show featuring Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez. Corona also will sponsor “A Los Golpes,” a boxing news show that airs on ESPN Deportes Radio.

ESPN attracted Corona by pitching the rare opportunity to reach Hispanic viewers through a sport they favor, offered in both Spanish and English, while also hitting the general market.

“More and more advertisers are talking to us about a total market,” said John Fitzgerald, vice president of multimedia sales for ESPN Deportes. “Is there a way I can speak across all levels of acculturation and even, to a lesser extent, reach the general market?

“The most organic way to do that may live inside content,” he said. “In sports, at ESPN, that’s an easy thing for us to do for advertisers. Boxing is something [Hispanics] like. Some want to watch in Spanish, some want to watch in English. We’ve got both.”

Tecate opted not to renew its contract after two years on “Friday Night Fights,” citing the expanding schedule of the popular “Solo Boxeo” show that it sponsors on Telefutura.

“Tecate was a great sponsor,” Fitzgerald said. “Corona is going to be a great sponsor.”

Griffin’s star rose when he co-starred with a Kia in the slam dunk contest.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who is expected to be named NBA Rookie the Year this week, has added to his burgeoning portfolio of corporate partnerships by signing an agreement with consumer electronics company Vizio.

Vizio will use Griffin’s likeness on packaging, in print and in at least one television commercial. Financial terms and the length of the deal were not released.

Officials from Vizio were unavailable for comment.

Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio is the latest brand to embrace Griffin as an endorser. The 6-foot-10 All-Star also has deals with or has appeared in commercials for Subway, AT&T, Kia, Nike and Nestlé brand PowerBar. Earlier this month, he secured a long-term trading card and memorabilia deal with Panini America, the official trading card of the NBA.

Griffin came into the league out of the University of Oklahoma with all the right credentials to be a top endorser: a clean image, standing as the No. 1 pick in 2009 NBA draft, and honors such as the John Wooden Award, the Naismith College Player of the Year award, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy.

Subway signed him before the draft, and Nike and PowerBar followed with deals that summer. But when Griffin suffered a knee injury during the preseason that would ultimately cost him the full 2009-10 season, it gave some sponsors pause.

“People were like, ‘Do we still need to be working with this guy?’” said Paul Bamundo, director of sports marketing and public relations for Subway and a former NBA marketing executive. “I said, ‘Yes, we do.’”
Subway featured Griffin while he was sidelined and recovering from injury in its campaign that also showcased Michael Strahan, Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin.

When Griffin returned to the court this season — he proceeded to win rookie-of-the-month recognition every month of the year — Subway featured him in two more commercials, running before and after the All-Star Game. Subway plans to begin running another spot around the expected Rookie of the Year announcement, Bamundo said.

After Griffin won this year’s All-Star Weekend slam dunk contest by jumping over a Kia Optima, Kia made a commercial using footage from the dunk in slow motion. The deal was supposed to be a one-off, but Kathryn Cima, Kia’s national manager for sponsorships and promotions, indicated the company could use him in the future. “We would certainly welcome the opportunity to work with him again,” she said.

Griffin is represented by New York-based Excel Sports Management. Founder and NBA agent Jeff Schwartz and NBA agent Sam Goldfeder represent him on the court, and Excel vice president of marketing Jaymee Messler represents him for marketing.

While the Clippers’ missing the playoffs has kept Griffin off the court for the postseason, Messler said it has given him more time to do appearances and other things for his sponsors. Darin David, account director at The Marketing Arm, also noted the Clippers’ secondary standing to the Lakers in Los Angeles as something that could work against Griffin long term but doesn’t seem to have had an immediate effect.

Pettersen gets use of a Lotus Evora as part of the deal.
The green-and-yellow marks of sports-car maker Lotus will adorn the golf bag of LPGA star Suzann Pettersen for most of the high-profile tourneys this year.

The one-year sponsorship was completed earlier this month and will be announced this week by Group Lotus, which has not previously had a position in women’s golf. Most of Lotus’ work in sports has been in support of its Formula One racing team.

A native of Norway who has won six LPGA events and 10 international tournaments since turning pro in 2003, Pettersen has a head-to-toe apparel and equipment deal with Nike, but she also has sponsorship arrangements with Dow Chemical, Tag Heuer watches and EA Sports.

Pettersen, who in four tournaments this season has a pair of top-10 finishes, is represented by Huysman Nystuen Partners in Oslo, Norway, and Wasserman Media Group, which has worked with HNP since January 2010 to find new deals for her. WMG worked on her comprehensive arrangement with Nike this past offseason.

Lotus will be on the bag for the U.S. Open, British Open, Canadian Open and at least a dozen tournaments in the final half of the season. The full schedule still is being determined.

The deal with Lotus will provide Pettersen with the use of a Lotus Evora, and there is a cash component as well. Financial terms were not available, but the bag for an elite LPGA player typically goes for low six figures.

The NFL draft is usually a time when the endorsement potential of the latest crop of league rookies is assessed, but the marketing rehabilitation of 30-year-old quarterback Michael Vick will grab headlines this week with the likelihood of two new deals being showcased.

Michael Vick will be the subject of a documentary and is a finalist for the cover of "Madden NFL 12."
Vick has agreed to do a documentary film chronicling his life with Bombo Sports & Entertainment, which has exclusive video rights for both the NBA and Manchester United. Bombo CEO Bob Potter said the plan is for a 70- to 90-minute documentary with a theatrical release in Philadelphia and other NFL cities to coincide with the start of the NFL season, and a possible TV airing on ESPN or another sports-focused TV outlet.

“I am a dog owner, so this won’t be a sugar-coating, but it should be a good film about an athlete who is fantastically talented and really polarizing at the same time,” Potter said.

An agreement with the NFL needs to be reached if the league’s intellectual property and footage are to be used. Potter said he has spoken with the league several times. He added that sponsorship opportunities for the yet-to-be-named film are now being sold.

A writer or director of the docu-film has not been named.

Meanwhile, if Vick wins an online fan vote concluding this week, he will be announced as the cover athlete of EA’s “Madden NFL 12” game. He is up against Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, a relative unknown, as both advanced to the finals of a 32-player competition staged over the past month, and both will appear at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., for the Wednesday announcement of the winner on “SportsNation,” EA Sports’ partner in the voting process.

More than 12 million fan votes have been cast to date.

“The idea is to have that sort of ‘American Idol’ moment where the winner is announced on ‘SportsNation’ with the two of them standing there,” said Rob Semsey, EA Sports spokesman.

EA will then stage the cover shoot of the winning choice, and that will be followed by a whirlwind schedule Thursday in New York.

Vick is competing against the Browns' Peyton Hillis in the fan vote for the "Madden NFL 12" cover.
Vick was featured on “Madden NFL 04” while a member of the Atlanta Falcons, so other than making him the first athlete with two appearances on what is often the country’s top-selling video game, a Madden cover would provide a “Good Housekeeping” seal for marketers still reticent to link their brands to a convicted felon, albeit one with consistent national TV exposure.

“A Madden cover would get Vick back into the aisles at places like Wal-Mart or Toys ‘R’ Us, where he was but hasn’t been able to get back into,” said Mark Zablow, senior director of marketing at Platinum Rye Entertainment, which matches athletes and brands for clients, including Procter & Gamble. “Then a big [consumer packaged goods] company doesn’t have to be the first brand to break the ice for Vick with a major retailer. And EA always put a lot of marketing muscle behind Madden, so it would really continue Vick’s rehab.”

Chicago-based attorney Andrew Stroth represents Vick for marketing deals. “Michael is committed to rebuilding his brand on and off the field,” Stroth said. “The support he’s received for the EA-Madden 2012 campaign is a testament to his appeal in the marketplace.”

Vick served 21 months in federal prison on felony charges related to his involvement in dog fighting. He returned to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award after last season.

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Steve Newmark knew this season wouldn’t be easy for Roush Fenway Racing.

For Roush Fenway Racing, team sponsor Aflac’s contract  is up this year, while 3M’s has already been renewed.
The four-car team has four major sponsors up for renewal. It closed the first of those a week ago when it announced a new three-year deal with 3M. Now, its leadership team is focused on completing the rest.

“One of our focuses has been continuity of partners and drivers, so that’s a great first step,” said Newmark, Roush Fenway’s president. “Hopefully we can continue to tick them off.”

Roush Fenway Racing is only one of five major NASCAR teams who began 2011 needing to renew significant sponsorships on a total of nine cars. As renewal negotiations ramp up this month and continue through the summer, team, sponsorship and marketing executives say a lot has changed since many of the sponsors negotiated their last deals three years ago.

The recession put added pressure on corporate marketers’ need for strong returns on their investments at the same time that NASCAR ratings and attendance declines caused them to scrutinize the sport more closely. The combination has put pressure on sponsorship prices, caused teams to look for ways to add value to the partnership packages and put new emphasis on performance on the track.

“Let’s be honest: The world has changed a lot since the economy crashed,” said Ron Rogowski, the director of sponsorship and events at UPS, which is in renewal conversations with Roush for the No. 6 car. “NASCAR has had a few setbacks. The numbers haven’t been where they used to be. You have this economic impact and the state of the sport. You sit down with teams, and there’s a very active discussion to make an investment work harder.”

Team Epic Principal Dave Grant added, “The type of money the marketplace was commanding a few years ago isn’t there anymore. The pricing has maxed out. Teams are recognizing the new reality, and that’s part of it.”

In the boom period of the early 2000s, NASCAR teams carried most of the leverage in sponsorship negotiations. There seemed to be no shortage of companies interested in entering the sport by sponsoring a team. But the recession shifted the leverage in negotiations to sponsors. AARP was the only significant new team sponsor to enter the sport in 2010, and teams have put more emphasis on the old maxim that keeping a sponsor is easier than finding a new one.

Three renewals have been completed so far this season: Mars with Joe Gibbs Racing, 3M with Roush Fenway and Caterpillar with Richard Childress Racing. All three teams declined to comment on pricing, but 3M is paying for fewer races, which can decrease a sponsor’s overall spend on a sponsorship.

Such pricing shifts are part of a new reality for NASCAR teams. Some teams are trying to hold value by taking the same amount of money for fewer races, which leaves additional inventory for them to sell, while others are settling for less money for the same amount of races.

“Three years ago you saw deals in the $18 (million) to $22 million range and today we’re probably in that $13 (million) to $17 million range,” said Tamera Green, GMR Marketing’s vice president, group account director who works on Best Buy’s NASCAR activation. “What’s driving the cost changes is what caused it for all businesses — the economy.”

Andrew Campagnone, formerly of Wunderman Sports and now with newly formed Sports Marketing Consultants, agreed, saying, “There’s downward pressure. Some people didn’t adjust (during the recession), and they’re having to adjust now.”

But the economy isn’t the only issue sponsors are raising in renewal discussions. The U.S. Army, which annually renegotiates its deal with Stewart-Haas Racing, went from 23 to 15 races this year and lowered the cost per race of its sponsorship. Matt Petersen, who handles the Army account as Momentum Worldwide’s director of motorsports, said the changes “took into account audience, TV ratings and where the market is moving.”

Petersen said teams have reacted to those trends by offering sponsors more assets and value. He pointed to Stewart-Haas offering up Tony Stewart’s suite at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 and Brickyard races. The team also has been more generous with driver appearances and proactive in bringing opportunities to the Army, going so far as to recommend that the No. 39 crew and driver Ryan Newman spend a day at Fort Benning in Georgia.

“Sponsors expect more flexibility,” Petersen said. “It’s a healthy sport, but teams recognize they need to recalibrate so that more rights go back to the rights holder.”

Teams are increasing the assets they provide in part because sponsors are focused increasingly on quantifying the return on their investments. It’s a trend that’s been true across all sports as marketers are pressed to justify their spending.

“We’re seeing a lot of discussions around measurement and showing how activating in NASCAR generates greater sales, greater exposure and greater brand awareness,” Newmark said.

One of the ways sponsors are trying to address that is by making their contracts more performance-based, said Rogowski of UPS. Doing so would follow a formula adopted by Bank of America a few years ago when it began negotiating deals with a team like the Boston Red Sox that would see the bank pay more if the team made the playoffs or won the World Series.

“Teams are very open to a deal that’s more flexible like that than in the past,” Rogowski said.

Teams are optimistic that new money will flow into the sport as the season progresses. Average viewership on Fox is up 18 percent to 7 million fans a race through seven races, and attendance has been strong at all but one track.

Farmers Insurance last week announced a new, five-race agreement with Hendrick Motorsports and driver Mark Martin, and teams say other new companies have been researching the sport. The arrival of new sponsorship dollars would ease some of the urgency in renewing existing partners.

“You’re seeing increased interest from sponsors across the board from where we were a year ago,” Newmark said. “Whether that materializes into sales remains to be seen, but we’re optimistic.”

Contracts up in 2011
UPS Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 David Ragan
Crown Royal Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Matt Kenseth
Aflac Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Carl Edwards
General Mills Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Clint Bowyer
U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing No. 39 Ryan Newman
Best Buy Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger
Contracts renewed in 2011
3M Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Greg Biffle
Mars Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Kyle Busch
Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Jeff Burton