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Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

It’s an understatement to say that, until this year, the PGA Tour’s player of the month award was underutilized. Some of the tour’s own sales staff didn’t even know the award existed until Avis began negotiating for the rights to it last year.

In fact, the player of the month award has existed for nearly 30 years, but no one had considered it much of a marketing asset. It was just a press release that went to inboxes and died a lonely death each month.

Avis also took over space on the leaderboard in its first year with the PGA Tour.
Photo by: PGA TOUR
As Avis and agency Team Epic negotiated with the tour about an official marketing partnership, they asked the tour for the rights to the monthly honor. This, they thought, was one way for Avis to make a big splash in the first year of its sponsorship.

“The award gives the brand exposure with the top players in the game,” said Tom Gartland, Avis’ president in North America. “We thought it made a lot of sense.”

Suitably, the player of the month was nearly an afterthought in the negotiations. Avis and the tour were roughly 80 percent of the way to a deal when the award was put on the table. Negotiations had reached common ground on cost, and then it became a matter of adding more marketing elements to Avis’ deal. That’s when the award was suggested and eventually included in the package.

In Avis’ first year as an official marketing partner, the player of the month has been transformed into one of the company’s most visible tools. Because fans now vote for the winner at, it gives Avis digital promotion, a fan engagement piece, and an association with the game’s best players.

This year’s list of winners includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. Avis pays $50,000 to the winner’s charity of choice.

Avis uses a monthly TV segment during the final round of a tournament to announce the award’s winner. Gartland or CMO Jeannine Haas will appear on network TV (CBS or NBC) to give the award to the winner. They use the wording “Extra Effort” in the presentation, a slogan adopted instead of “We Try Harder” in Avis’ golf marketing.

“The player of the month was really an undervalued asset, to say the least,” said Joe Zajac, the Team Epic executive who has worked closely with Avis on the deal points and the activation. “Putting the vote into the hands of the fans has been a big deal and it’s really taken off.”

The player of the month is just one of several components that Avis put to good use this year. Taking over for National, which had owned the tour’s car rental category for more than a decade, Avis knew that it had to make an impression right away.

In addition to the award, Avis took over half of the signage on the tour’s LED leaderboards, sharing the space with MasterCard. Kodak had been in that position in the past.

Avis also struck a deal with golfer Steve Stricker for appearances and space on his shirt collar, giving the car rental company a well-rounded program that included digital (player of the month voting), an array of golf-themed TV ads, on-site signage and a player ambassador. Avis provides employees, players, instructors, caddies and anyone else associated with the tour a discount code for car rentals.

Industry experts say such a deal with the tour would typically cost in the mid-seven figures. The Stricker deal was negotiated separately with his representatives at IMG.

“To rejuvenate player of the month with a fan engagement component, all done digitally, has really turned it into a powerful social media component,” Haas said. “We’ve seen a number of players going to Facebook and Twitter to get their fans to vote for them.”

One of the most powerful pieces of the sponsorship — the business-to-business component — has been cultivated over the course of the year.

This week, in a suite overlooking the 17th green at East Lake Golf Club, site of the Tour Championship, Gartland will meet with the president of another PGA Tour official marketing partner. About five times this year, Avis has created hospitality events to host current and potential clients.

Meetings with key decision-makers over the course of the year has Gartland confident that the sponsorship will easily pay for itself.

“People don’t make big decisions like this overnight, but are we pleased? Yes,” Gartland said. “Is it over the top? Not yet, but we’re making great progress.”

American Express, largely divorced from the NFL since Visa took over league payment card rights in 1995, is back with America’s top sports property via a sponsorship with the Jacksonville Jaguars that includes title sponsorship to the high-end, all-inclusive Terrace Suite area at the club’s EverBank Field.

The sponsorship is with the AmEx Delta SkyMiles Card and includes signage throughout the stadium, team-controlled media and various cardholder benefits. Visa and MasterCard sponsor the remaining 31 NFL teams.

AmEx will use a variety of marketing approaches, including savings to Delta SkyMiles cardholders.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Jacksonville and the surrounding area are home to a heavy concentration of card members and Delta frequent fliers. Additionally, the market for air travel has become more competitive following Southwest Airlines’ purchase of AirTran last year.

“Retention and acquisition are important goals here,’’ said David Rabkin, senior vice president of consumer co-brands at AmEx. “Florida is an incredibly important market, and Jacksonville is a place we haven’t been able to do enough event-wise, so this is perfect.”

Activation will include the ability for around 100 card members per game to upgrade to the Terrace Suite for an incremental fee. For three games, cardholders will be offered packages that include tickets and a sideline pass, or tickets and pregame “chalk talk.”

Under the Jaguars’ new “Jax Lab” sales approach, AmEx will try a variety of approaches. One game will be marketed only to a cardholder database, one to Delta frequent flier members. Offers within the stadium that will provide savings to cardholders are also being designed.

Cardholder satisfaction, and strengthening “acquisition experience,” are among the most important goals, Rabkin said.

Under “Jax Lab,” the Jaguars are using the approach of embracing their weaknesses instead of avoiding them. So, instead of apologizing for being in the nation’s No. 50 TV market, the strategy is to sell the proposition that as the only major professional sports team in a 100-mile radius, the Jaguars’ fan base and media reach extends across Florida and south Georgia.

And while Jacksonville will never be confused with New York or Chicago, “We are offering corporate partners a market that’s uncluttered and highly measurable for testing new ideas and marketing programs,” said Jaguars President Mark Lamping. “We don’t necessarily have the kind of scale to sell like where I came from [MetLife Stadium], so we are expanding [regionally] and offering partners flexibility and a real ability to be heard.”

Those regional efforts include TV coverage for preseason games along with weekly shoulder programming in an area as far north as Charleston, S.C., and west to Mobile, Ala. That network of coverage has expanded from 3 million to 4 million households this season.

Old World Industries, the privately held company behind Peak Antifreeze and Peak Motor Oil, is stepping up its investment in motorsports sponsorships.

The Illinois-based company recently finalized multiyear agreements with Michael Waltrip Racing, the NHRA and four NHRA Sportsman class dragsters. Financial terms of the deals were not available.

Old World brand Peak Motor Oil will expand its sponsorship of NHRA driver TJ Zizzo.
Photo by: NHRA
The deals are part of a push by Old World to increase its market share by marketing to do-it-yourself consumers who follow NASCAR and the NHRA. The company estimates its Peak Antifreeze has a 50 percent share of the antifreeze market and its Peak Motor Oil has a 6 percent share of the lubricant market.

“Growing the Peak brand is the No. 1 priority for us,” said Bryan Emrich, vice president of marketing for Old World Industries. “We want to build the brand with the [do-it-yourself] consumer.”

Michael Waltrip Racing last Friday announced Peak Motor Oil would be an associate sponsor throughout the 2013 season on all three of the team’s NASCAR Sprint Cup cars and a primary sponsor for three races on Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 car. It also will have the ability to incorporate team owner Michael Waltrip into marketing materials.

Emrich said that Old World explored opportunities with other NASCAR teams but signed with MWR because it had a similar culture and shared a desire to increase Peak’s brand awareness at the same time Peak helped expand the race team.

The NHRA deal came together after the drag racing organization’s official antifreeze, Prestone, decided not to extend its sponsorship beyond this year. Old World signed a deal that makes its Peak Antifreeze brand the NHRA’s official antifreeze, its BlueDef diesel exhaust fluid brand the official diesel exhaust fluid, and its Herculiner brand the official truck bed liner.

Old World Industries will receive on-site signage, on-site activation rights, advertising inventory during races on ESPN2, and other assets.

“The most efficient place to reach [do-it-yourself consumers] is the NHRA,” Emrich said. “It has the highest percentage of [do-it-yourself] consumers. The depth of the NHRA fan who is a car person is greater there than anywhere else we could find.”

Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing, said: “You never know [when you lose a sponsor like Prestone] if you’ll find another one, but they saw the opportunity and were aggressive in pursuing it. It’s worked out really well.”

The NHRA already has Lucas Oil as its official oil sponsor through 2015, so Old World didn’t have the option of signing an official NHRA sponsorship for Peak Motor Oil, but Emrich said the company will activate around its oil brand. The centerpiece of that activation is the Peak Motor Oil performance team.

The brand has signed deals to sponsor four Sportsman class drivers: Jay Payne, Duane Shields, Sherman Adcock and Dan Fletcher. It also plans to expand its sponsorship of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel driver TJ Zizzo, becoming the primary sponsor for 12 races in 2013, up from eight races this year.

“Everyone knows we’re in the antifreeze category, but we’re trying to drive motor oil, too,” Emrich said. “If that [category] ever opens up for any reason, we’re interested in having that conversation. That’s up to the NHRA and Lucas Oil.”

The Old World Industries sponsorship deal is the first new sponsorship the NHRA has announced for 2013. It extended its title sponsorship with Coca-Cola and renewed an agreement with Harley-Davidson. The organization is working on renewals with the U.S. Army, a key sponsor, and Tire Kingdom, a race title sponsor.

Ralph Santana, Samsung America’s top marketer, quietly left the company in late August.

Santana, 44, who joined Samsung Electronics America as chief marketing officer in June 2010, did not return calls to his cell phone seeking comment. He is a former SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40 honoree and was at Pepsi for 16 years, which included a two-year stint running the beverage giant’s sports marketing.

Santana joined Samsung Electronics as CMO in June 2010.
His departure follows a lawsuit filed against Samsung in April by 18 Olympians, including Mark Spitz, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Greg Louganis and Cullen Jones. The athletes alleged that the worldwide Olympic sponsor did not have permission to use their names and photos in an Olympic marketing program called the Samsung U.S. Olympic Genome Project.

The marketing initiative was the first Samsung had run around the Olympics in the U.S., and Santana had overseen its development and championed it in the press.

Samsung, with support from its sports marketing agency, Team Epic, designed a Facebook application that showed Americans across the country how they were connected to U.S. Olympians. It evaluated people’s Facebook information and used information like where people were from and where they went to school to compute their connections to athletes. For example, users who attended Brandeis University would see that fencer Tim Morehouse also attended the college, giving them a reason to root for him during the London Games.

Samsung did not plan to pay Olympians who were featured in the application despite facing questions from Olympic agents who raised concerns about the legality of featuring athletes without having formal agreements. Rather than having athletes sign a form opting to participate in the program, Samsung and the U.S. Olympic Committee provided a form for them to opt-out of the program. If they didn’t receive an opt-out form from an athlete, they featured them in the application.

As a result, athletes who had deals with Samsung competitors were featured on a Facebook application with Samsung branding.

For example, swimmer Dara Torres, who joined the lawsuit, has a deal with Hewlett-Packard but was still accessible in Samsung’s Genome Project.

Samsung and the USOC reversed course after the lawsuit was filed and provided a form asking athletes to opt into the program. The program continued through the London Games, but Samsung limited its promotion of it.

A decision in the athletes’ lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, is pending.

Stewart-Haas Racing has primary position sponsorships to sell for more than 30 races in 2013 across its No. 14 and No. 39 cars driven by Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, respectively.

The open inventory became available after the U.S. Army declined to renew its 14-race, primary sponsorship on the No. 39 car, and Office Depot declined to extend its 22-race, co-primary sponsorship of the No. 14 car. The sponsorships are the most significant ones the team has lost since losing Old Spice, a 14-race, co-primary sponsor on the No. 14 car, in 2010, and Burger King, an associate sponsor with two primary paint schemes on the No. 14, in 2011.

Stewart-Haas is trying to sell 15 to 20 races as primary sponsor for Tony Stewart’s car.
Stewart-Haas is shopping 15 to 20 primary spots on Stewart’s No. 14 car. It’s the most open inventory the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has had since he left Joe Gibbs Racing to become a co-owner of Haas CNC Racing in 2009. His other primary sponsor, Mobil 1, will return for 14 races next year.

“Having inventory to sell is never a position anyone wants to be in, but if I have inventory, there’s nobody better to endorse a brand than Tony Stewart,” said Brett Frood, Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president. “We’ve never had difficulty finding a sponsor for him. He’s an individual who transcends the sport.”

Frood declined to specify what the cost per race will be on the No. 14 car, but marquee drivers like Stewart historically command more than $450,000 per race from sponsors.

The team is looking to find a single sponsor that will buy more than 15 races on the No. 14. It is approaching sponsors in categories ranging from quick-service restaurants to automotive parts to companies looking to appeal to do-it-yourself consumers.

“There are a lot of companies that fit [Stewart’s] authenticity and fan base and what they stand for — that old-fashioned work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit,” Frood said.

Frood said there’s a chance that Office Depot, which has sponsored Stewart since 2009, takes some available races on the No. 14.

On the No. 39 car, Stewart-Haas Racing is in talks with Quicken Loans, which became a primary sponsor for nine races this year, about expanding its support of the team in 2013. Associate sponsor Outback Steakhouse will sponsor two races next year, as well.

Frood said the team still envisions expanding to three cars in 2013. It hopes to make Danica Patrick, who is scheduled to run 10 Sprint Cup races this year, a full-time driver next year. Patrick finished 29th or lower in her first five Sprint Cup races, but she was more focused this year on getting experience than finishing well.

“Our goal has been to expand, and I don’t see anything deterring us from that,” Frood said.

Terry Lefton
If you put together a wish list for any U.S. motorsports marketer, it would likely include three consistent elements: putting an environmentally friendly face on their sport, attracting a younger audience, and tapping into some of the hundreds of millions of dollars Formula One racing generates outside of North America.
Introducing Formula E.

Using the imprimatur of F1 via a license and sanction from the motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, Formula E is a new electric car circuit that hopes to launch in 2014 with cars that can go as fast as 150 miles per hour for around 25 minutes, which means each team shuffles cars during races akin to a relay race. The plan is for 10 teams with 20 drivers to take part in 15 races across the globe, run in and around cities so that landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or Golden Gate Bridge would be part of the race course, without the noise pollution that accompanies other motorsports and prevents many of them from racing within inner cities. Three or four races are planned for the U.S. with the remainder in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

“F1 doesn’t succeed in America because it’s perceived as not being much different from IndyCar or NASCAR. We are unique.”
Alejandro Agag
CEO, Formula E
Photo by: FORMULA E
“We want this to be very U.S.-centric,” insisted Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, adding he wants at least three U.S. teams. “F1 doesn’t succeed in America because it’s perceived as not being much different from IndyCar or NASCAR. We are unique.”

In a departure from its normal work, branding/design firm SME is handling U.S. sponsorship and media sales. Media rights are not set, which of course is what any potential corporate sponsor will want to know.

The business plan for Formula E is highly dependent on sponsorship. Agag, a former part owner of the English Premier League Queens Park Rangers, says the circuit is targeting $100 million in sponsorship sales before a single race is run. He sees endemic opportunities among electric car manufacturers, battery manufacturers and power companies. He’s also hoping the likes of Apple, Google or Facebook will want to associate with sustainability and a strong technology play. Beyond that, he says, “so many large companies like Coke have a strong sustainability play now, so we think we can attract some attention there.’’

Formula E expects its electric car will go as fast as 150 mph for about 25 minutes, meaning teams will run multiple cars.
Photo by: FORMULA E
He feels that the circuit’s technology and logistics will be more challenging than attracting sponsorship dollars.

The fledgling series is bankrolled by Formula E Holdings, which is a consortium that includes Spanish real estate developer and billionaire Enrique Banuelos.

Teams will be subsidized by the circuit to start, but “will never cost more than $10 million for a team,” Agag said. That’s the equivalent of bupkis in F1 circles.

Race cities and media rights have to be further defined before a more definitive pitch is launched, but SME Managing Partner Paul Sewards says he has been making quiet inquiries and hopes to have a comprehensive offering this fall. “Cost is a big question and we don’t want to under-price ourselves, so while we are in some active conversations, we still have some time,” he said.

NO FREEZE OUT: Even with a work stoppage apparently inevitable, the party line at the NHL is business as usual.

“We are preparing with our partners to start the season as soon as possible,” said Keith Wachtel, NHL senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing, “but we are finalizing some renewals and filling some open categories.”

Wachtel was mum on specifics. However, we’ve heard from various sources that the league is having some sales success, even with a stoppage that most see costing the league at least as many games as last year’s NBA lockout, which trimmed 16 games off that league’s 82-game regular season. We are also mindful that Sprint signed its four-year NBA sponsorship pact during last year’s lockout and it was one of that league’s largest deals ever.

Sources tell us Pfizer has completed a long-awaited NHL sponsorship deal in which it will leverage its Advil brand of ibuprofen. Here’s hoping there’s already a supply in-house for use during the upcoming bargaining sessions. Bayer has done a nice job leveraging its MLB sponsorship over the past two seasons, and we’re sure that Pfizer noticed.

It is unclear if rights for Pfizer’s other top over-the-counter brands — Centrum multivitamin and ChapStick lip balm — are included in the NHL deal. Meanwhile, the NHL is hoping to use the promise of integration within its video review “war room” in Toronto that reviews disputed calls as a means to attract a consumer electronics technology partner. For those of you keeping score among sports properties, that’s akin to the deal the NFL did not get done after Motorola and IBM’s rights expired after last season.

MITT MASTERS: Rawlings has awarded its Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence since 1957, but it’s Wilson that has the rights as MLB’s official glove, while Rawlings markets MLB’s official ball and helmet. So, Rawlings continues to add marketing muscle to its Gold Glove platform, reprising an ESPN selection show and its gala awards this fall.

The Gold Glove selection show
and awards gala will be back.
Photo by: RAWLINGS
“We feel like we’ve really added some depth to the brand,” said Mike Thompson, senior vice president of marketing.

Rawlings revived the gala last year after an 18-year gap. Also returning is the ESPN2 show in which the winners will be revealed and the show will again use talent from “Baseball Tonight.” The show is scheduled for late October or early November. The New York gala honoring the selections is scheduled to draw 600 and be held Nov. 9 at The Plaza.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is tied in with a sweepstakes offering a trip for two to the event, at which Robin Williams is the featured talent and Henry Aaron will receive a lifetime achievement award. Presenters will also include a number of MLB hall of famers.

Alliance Marketing Partners, Wynnewood, Pa., is seeking partners in the spirits, beer and financial services categories.

HERE & THERE: With a lockout looming, it does not appear that New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be on NHL ice any time soon. However, he will be getting incremental exposure via an ESPN “This Is SportsCenter” ad scheduled to shoot this week. IMG signed the 30-year-old goalie for marketing representation earlier this year. Other NHLers of note who have appeared in “This Is SportsCenter” spots include Wayne Gretzky, Chris Chelios, Alex Ovechkin (also represented by IMG) and former Rangers goalie Mike Richter. There have been around 375 “This is SportsCenter” ads from agency Wieden & Kennedy since they debuted in 1994 … Former Los Angeles Dodgers, Kings, Lakers and Galaxy sales and marketing executive Sergio del Prado joins Comcast’s Front Row Marketing as a regional sales vice president, based in Los Angeles. Del Prado joked that it was not because he had run out of teams to sell for in the city.
Terry Lefton can be reached at