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Volume 21 No. 13

Marketing and Sponsorship

The COPD Foundation, which supports the research and early diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has signed two-year extensions with NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway.

The deals keep COPD as the official health initiative of the sport, and its Drive4COPD marketing program will remain the title sponsor of Daytona’s Nationwide Series race in February. Financial terms of the agreement with NASCAR were unavailable. The agreement with Daytona is valued in the middle to high six figures.

The COPD Foundation will keep its deals with NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway.
Sara Latham, campaign director for Drive4COPD, said the organization extended the partnership because NASCAR was a great platform to reach a large audience and raise awareness of COPD. The sport’s fan base is more likely than the average, non-NASCAR fan to be a past or present smoker and more susceptible to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tying itself to the sport gives the foundation a way to reach those fans and allows it to develop relationships with sponsors in the industry so that the foundation can build ties to corporate health and wellness coordinators.

The foundation is already making inroads in the sport. This summer, Daytona’s grandstands will be smokeless for the first time, which is a major change at the marquee speedway in a sport that was built with the marketing dollars of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Daytona President Joie Chitwood III said the decision was made after he sat in the grandstands at the speedway’s Nationwide Series race last July. While watching close to 40 laps in the stands, a fan approached him and asked him how the speedway could have COPD as a sponsor and still allow smoking in its grandstands.

“I said, ‘That’s a good question. I don’t really have an answer,’” Chitwood said. He pulled together his executive team at the speedway and analyzed the potential repercussions of making the grandstands smoke-free. Speedway surveys showed it wasn’t a major issue for fans, and this July, the speedway will stop allowing smoking and offer smoking areas outside the grandstands. “At the end of the day, it’s 2012,” Chitwood said. “It’s what we should be thinking about as a company.”

COPD is in talks with NASCAR about making its role as the official health initiative of the sport a cause that the entire industry supports. Latham said she’d like to see it become as much an area of emphasis for NASCAR as the sport’s green initiative. She said she will be working with NASCAR’s senior leadership to develop a plan for achieving that in the future.

After seven years as Richards Sports & Entertainment, the sports and event marketing agency is changing its name to Haymaker, effective immediately.

The Dallas-based agency will remain a subsidiary of The Richards Group, but wanted a more independent identity that will allow it to work for clients aligned with other agency networks.

Agency principal Kern Egan said that The Richards Group’s ownership of the agency will not change, nor will his agency be working with clients conflicting with the parent company.

Noting the agency’s recent nomination for Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services at the SBJ/SBD Sports Business Awards, and the choice of client Bridgestone as Sponsor of the Year at the same event, “we just felt it was the right time for our own brand, so we can be hyperfocused on the partnership and property marketing space,” Egan said.

Without disclosing billings, Egan said the agency has grown from a single client when it opened seven years ago — with Hyundai a sponsor of AAA baseball — to 17 today, including Bridgestone, MetroPCS, Advance Auto Parts, H-E-B and Wawa. Staffing has gone from fewer than a handful to 20 today and the agency now has $500 million in sponsorships under management.

As for the new name itself?

“Some believe it’s a play on the old adage, ‘Make hay while the sun is shining.’ There are only so many opportunities to reap your reward, so make the most of those presented,” Egan explained. “Others say it comes from a punch’s wide, sweeping arc or the motion of a scythe in a hayfield. Haymaker is a powerful, game-changing blow — as long as it connects.”

The agency’s logo was designed by RBMM, the design practice of The Richards Group.

Combining business and environmental interests, the NHL has signed York Heating and Air Conditioning to a sponsorship agreement that begins with activation this weekend for the NHL draft in Pittsburgh and continues through next year’s draft.

The deal was scheduled to be announced tomorrow in Las Vegas, ahead of Wednesday night’s NHL awards ceremony.

Discussions between the parties began last summer and were finalized during the Stanley Cup Final. Financial terms of the deal were not available.

York’s goal is to increase brand awareness during its key marketing periods: October and November for heating, and April and May for cooling.

“The awareness of the Stanley Cup playoffs in our peak selling season was particularly attractive to us,” said Steve Hoffins, York’s senior brand manager of unitary products.

Currently, 80 percent of NHL arenas utilize York, but in no case does the company have an official sponsorship with an NHL club. The new deal is the company’s first major sports buy.

“This is a great brand-building opportunity for York,” Hoffins said, “and a chance for our 2,000 platform HVAC contractors to get local promotion and increase sales.”

A subsidiary of Johnson Controls, York is an independent supplier of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. The company worked with Van Wagner Sports to secure the NHL deal.

Through the new deal, the company will gain not only the league-level relationship, but also partnerships with six teams: Montreal, Vancouver, Philadelphia and three more teams with whom deals are being finalized.

Among the deal points, York becomes the official heating, ventilating and air conditioning partner of the NHL; it’s the first company to carry that designation for the league. York also becomes official HVAC partner of the Hockey Hall of Fame and it gets standing as a Proud Partner of the annual player draft, the 2013 NHL awards and the Winter Classic.

The deal includes media commitments to NBC Sports Network, NHL Network, NHL Social Media and, as well.

At the Winter Classic in Michigan in January, York will be the presenting sponsor of the NHL ice truck, the refrigeration unit that will maintain the playing surface at Michigan Stadium. On its way to the site, the York ice truck will make several stops at York retail destinations.

“It’s a one-year deal, but our goal is to over-deliver,” said David Lehanski, NHL group vice president of integrated sales. “We hope, and York shares our vision, to build a long-term partnership.”

To that end, the league is working with York to create additional activation opportunities along with the natural tie-ins to NHL Green, the league’s environmental program.

“As part of the deal, we have set aside a fund for NHL Green initiatives,” said Lehanski, adding that how the fund will be used will be decided in the next few months.

Partnering with NHL Green was important to York.

“We have the same set of objectives when it comes to conservation,” Hoffins said.