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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

At a time when many NASCAR sponsors are cutting back on the number of races they sponsor, MillerCoors has extended its commitment to run a full-season primary.

The beer company last week announced early, multiyear extensions with Penske Racing and NASCAR that will see the Miller Lite brand retain its primary spot for 36 races on the No. 2 Dodge and the Coors Light brand maintain its position as the sport’s official beer and presenting sponsor of the pole award.

MillerCoors’ current agreements with Penske and NASCAR were to have expired at the end of 2012. Financial terms of the deals were not available, though full-season primary deals on elite Sprint Cup cars can run $20 million or more.

In addition to the team and sanctioning body sponsorships, MillerCoors has signed seven track sponsorships with speedways in Chicago, Indianapolis, Talladega, Richmond, New Hampshire, Las Vegas and Charlotte.

“There are so many factors that go into these decisions,” said Jackie Woodward, vice president of media and marketing services at MillerCoors. “Miller Lite will be now one of the few primary sponsors throughout the season. We looked at it and said, ‘This is an important place to be.’ NASCAR fans are beer drinkers. We need to be there and we need to be there for the long haul.”

Under terms of the new agreement, Coors Light will get more signage around its pole award at tracks.

NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell said the sport’s sanctioning body didn’t speak to any other beer companies about a potential sponsorship. Coors Light has been the official beer of NASCAR since 2008, and NASCAR focused solely on getting an early renewal done.

“The deal is working for both parties really well. There was no reason to wait,” O’Connell said. “They’re one of the best activators out there in all of sport and their calendars have a long lead time, so it made sense for them to have their plans firm as early as possible.”

It’s the third early renewal NASCAR has signed in the last six months. Last year, it announced early renewals with Sprint and Goodyear, two of its biggest partners. It still has deals with Gillette and DirecTV up at the end of the year.

Woodward said Miller Lite and Coors Light will continue to activate aggressively at retail, but one of its biggest areas of focus will be on digital marketing.

Terry Lefton
Unless you’ve been living under the same rock as Geico’s ubiquitous caveman, you’ve heard that Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the fifth for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, tying a record established by John Elway.

Brady has won three Super Bowl rings; only Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw have more, with four. As impressive as those accomplishments are, from our vantage point at the intersection of sports and commerce, there’s another Brady achievement that merits recognition. It isn’t his poise in the pocket or his Hollywood looks. From Troy Aikman to Steve Young, Brady is the only NFL QB we know of with two shoe endorsement deals.

Actually, make that, he is the only pro athlete we know of with two shoe deals.

Between the lines, Brady pushes performance with Under Armour, which employs the NFL’s marquee man to market apparel and footwear. UA will splash Brady’s likeness across its NFL Experience installation this week in Indianapolis.

Earlier, Brady was nicely bookended with the league’s No. 1 draft pick of last year, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, in UA’s “Footsteps” campaign. Brady also helped push UA’s Charged Cotton apparel after the company changed from cotton being “the enemy” to water-repellent cotton outerwear being a sales opportunity.

“From Under Armour’s standpoint, Brady’s all about on-field performance and representing the best in the game,” said Stuart Redsun, senior vice president of brand marketing at UA, who recalled that O.J. Simpson had a deal with Dingo boots during his playing career.

Off the field, Brady is helping what had been a brand for women attack the other side of the business. Brady became the face of “UGG for Men” and appeared in the first TV ads of any kind for UGG or parent company Deckers Outdoor Corp. In Indianapolis this week, UGG is a sponsor of the lounge at the NFL Honors televised awards show Saturday night and is seeding its product among various media on site, from members on Radio Row to ESPN talent and members of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Former Reebok marketer David Pace helped negotiate the deal for UGG. Once it became clear in 2010 that incumbent Nike was not re-signing Brady, he met with Brady’s agents Don Yee and Steve Dubin, and he recalls them being immediately receptive to the deal since it would take Brady into new places. From those midsummer talks, it took from September to Thanksgiving to get the deal signed — and both of Brady’s deals were signed and made public less than a month apart.

“We knew Brady would get an on-field deal and we were pretty sure it would be with Under Armour, so it was just a case of working in what turned out to be parallel paths and protecting our space,” said Pace, now an independent sports marketing consultant in Hingham, Mass. “That we both got [footwear] deals done is a tribute to Brady’s fame and the unique situation UGG was in: They needed someone to jump-start their men’s business. And we were just as happy it was Under Armour; their business is so young, they don’t really have casual footwear.”

You could make the case that Brady has helped both brands. Brady is a paragon of legitimacy for Under Armour as it works to establish itself in footwear, and for UGG, he gives men a reason to consider a brand that grew up as a women’s fashion trademark.

So, if Brady wins Super Bowl ring No. 4 on Sunday, we’ll be impressed — but not as awed as if you could show us a way he could shoehorn a dress-shoe endorsement into his mix of footwear.

DEW IT: ESPN’s Mike & Mike (as in Greenberg and Golic) join fellow ESPN on-air talent Erin Andrews and Dick Vitale for a Diet Mountain Dew spot in which Greenberg offers to trade the right to co-host the show for a bottle of Diet Dew. The ad, filmed in Hartford, Conn., earlier this month, should break next month and is part of a “Fuel the Frenzy’’ campaign running in and around college basketball programming. Headline Media of New York represents both Greenberg and Golic.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

A year after signing a licensing deal with NASCAR, Wal-Mart is expanding its marketing activity in the sport by adding promotions in 500 additional stores this February and doubling its race market activities from a year ago.

The expansion means Wal-Mart will promote NASCAR in 2,000 of its stores next month in a program it’s calling “Race Time.” The program will showcase large, race-themed displays from consumer packaged goods brands active in NASCAR.

Wal-Mart will extend its NASCAR-themed marketing activities throughout the season by bringing show cars and hosting driver appearances at retail outlets in race markets. It is doubling the number of Wal-Marts it visits in each race market from four to eight.

Wal-Mart’s “Race Time” program will feature displays from brands active in NASCAR.
Photo by: WAL-MART
The company will use those events to promote its “Family Track Pack” offering, which provides families with four tickets, four soft drinks, four hot dogs and one souvenir program for $99. The promotion is available for 17 of 36 Sprint Cup races.

“Last year was really about laying a foundation for a long-term partnership,” said Rand Waddoups, senior director, entertainment properties and brands at Wal-Mart. “We didn’t get in as much as we will this year. It’s important we create loyalty at the track and at the store.”

Just 12 companies participated in Wal-Mart’s “Race Time” promotion last year, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and MillerCoors. This year, there will be 40 participants. Among the new participants are The Clorox Co., which will show off its brands Clorox, Kingsford, Glad, Hidden Valley and KC Masterpiece; Kellogg’s, which will feature Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies; and Unilever, which will incorporate Hellman’s, Ragu and Breyers.

The “Race Time” program was an integral piece of the licensing deal NASCAR Team Properties put together with Wal-Mart. Teams wanted a deal that would offer retail exposure for their corporate sponsors, but the deal was finalized just before the Daytona 500, giving Wal-Mart limited time to develop its in-store promotion and find brands to support it.

NASCAR officials are hopeful that the inclusion of more companies will improve the return on investment that participants see from race-related marketing efforts.

“It’s about giving sponsors more visibility, more exposure and business,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing and consumer products. “We’re having companies come to us and say they want to be a part of it and get involved. That’s huge. It delivers a kind of exposure the race teams need to deliver value back to partners.”

Waddoups said Wal-Mart will be more aggressive in promoting its $99 track pass.

“We sold a good number, but we think we’re nowhere near scratching the surface of what we can sell,” he said. “That’s why we’re expanding it. It’s a phenomenal way to bring value to a customer.”

The participating International Speedway Corp. tracks are Auto Club Speedway in California, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Talladega Speedway and Watkins Glen International. The participating Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks are expected to be Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Pocono and Dover, which are independently owned, also are participating.

In addition to those seasonlong promotions, Wal-Mart last week announced it will promote its 50th anniversary by doing a one-race primary sponsorship with Turner Motorsports at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona on July 7. NASCAR legend and retired driver Bill Elliott will race a No. 50 entry.

Waddoups believes Wal-Mart’s promotional efforts in NASCAR this year mark a measured step forward in its involvement in the sport. He said the company will evaluate the results and make decisions about how much it will increase its promotional efforts in 2012. “We’re going to get more involved,” he said.

He didn’t rule out doing something more “aggressive” in the future, but said the company won’t sign a primary sponsorship with a team because such a move might estrange people who aren’t fans of a particular driver. He also said it doesn’t have plans to sign endorsement deals with multiple drivers, as Gillette did with its “Young Guns” program.

“We want to make continued growth and measured progress, but we’re not ready to go all the way to the level of full-scale sponsorship,” Waddoups said. “Being one of the largest companies in the world and having the kind of excitement we could have with the customer, it’s really easy for someone to say, ‘We want to get married and have five kids together.’ We’re going to be more measured with that. That said, we’re moving in a positive direction.”

The Marketing Arm consulted on Wal-Mart’s NASCAR strategy and planning.