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Volume 20 No. 42
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Fifth Third signs four-race primary deal with Roush

Fifth Third Bank plans to put its number on one of Roush Fenway Racing’s Sprint Cup cars.

The Cincinnati-based bank signed a four-race primary sponsorship for Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 car. The multiyear agreement will see it sponsor Kenseth’s car at this weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte and at three Midwest races in Kentucky, Indianapolis and Chicago. The bank has the option to change the races it sponsors in 2013 and 2014.

The bank joins Zest as a short-term primary sponsor on Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 car.
Financial terms of the agreement weren’t available, but industry sources said Roush has been seeking $400,000 a race for Kenseth, which would put the deal in the low seven figures.

Roush recently began using Fifth Third to provide some of its banking needs, but team and bank executives said the deal wasn’t connected to the banking relationship.

Fifth Third Bank plans to use the sponsorship to support an ad campaign it rolled out in late February. The campaign, which uses the tag line “The Curious Bank,” was developed by Leo Burnett and has been featured in regional TV commercials, radio spots and in out-of-home, print and digital ads.

The deal is the second sponsor Roush has signed for the No. 17 car since the start of the Sprint Cup season. It signed a four-race deal with Zest soap earlier in the year. It also added single-race agreements with Valvoline, Fastenal and Ford. But the No. 17 car still needs sponsorship for a dozen races this season.

The amount of open inventory on Kenseth’s car has been a cause of concern for many in the NASCAR industry. Kenseth, who was NASCAR’s champion in 2003, won this year’s Daytona 500 and stood second in the Sprint Cup standings going into last weekend.

Kevin Thomas, Roush’s vice president of strategic marketing, said the team is targeting companies that haven’t been involved in NASCAR before and companies that have been involved in the sport but not with a top Sprint Cup team.

“People have a hard time realizing that the Matt Kenseths of the world, guys out there running up front, are available and they have an opportunity to do things with them that they’ve never done before,” Thomas said. “Having people understand that is a challenge for us, but once they figure that out, it’s a quick discussion.”

Thomas said that conversations for the deal with Fifth Third Bank began shortly after Kenseth won this year’s Daytona 500.

Roush President Steve Newmark had worked with the bank when he was an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson. After Roush and Fifth Third started working together on banking matters, Roush pitched the bank on using the team as a marketing tool. Fifth Third launched its new marketing program the same day that Kenseth won the Daytona 500.