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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

Featherlite Trailers has been making haulers to transport stock cars to races for more than 20 years, and it is poised to do it at least six more.

The Iowa-based company signed a six-year extension to remain the official trailer of NASCAR through 2018. Featherlite has been an official sponsor of the sport since 2000. Its rights include access to the garage on race weekend, tickets, hospitality and use of NASCAR’s logo.

The deal is a mix of cash and value-in-kind.

More than 90 percent of NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams use Featherlite trailers to transport vehicles from race to race. The company has been building and selling those trailers to teams since 1993, when it designed its first transporter for Richard Childress Racing. NASCAR uses 10 transporters for office and meeting space at races each weekend.

A typical NASCAR transporter costs as much as $400,000. Featherlite sells anywhere from five to 20 transporters a year based on demand. Most teams use the transporters for four or five years.

The NASCAR sponsorship allows Featherlite to bring service technicians to each race. Those technicians can work on trailers that need repairs and make sure they are operating properly during the four days the transporter is used over a long race weekend.

“That’s a huge selling point for us,” said Mike Galvin, specialty sales manager for Featherlite. “Having our guy in the garage area when Mr. Hendrick has a meeting in one of his transporters and for some odd reason that day the air conditioner didn’t kick in is important. As many high-profile customers as are in that garage area, it’s majorly beneficial for us. It’s even more important for the team.”

In addition to sponsoring NASCAR, Featherlite sponsors the IndyCar Series and Grand-Am Road Racing.

Humana has extended and broadened its official marketing partnership with the PGA Tour.

Humana, a tour partner since 2005, has had the designation of official health benefits company for the main tour and the Champions Tour. As part of the extension, Humana also will serve as the tour’s health and well-being partner, a brand distinction it is making through its tournament in La Quinta, Calif., with the Clinton Foundation. The Humana Challenge is being held this week in conjunction with the Health Matters conference hosted by Clinton and his foundation.

Terms of the deal were not available, but official marketing deals typically go for the low to mid-seven figures.

The marketing partnership is a different deal than the title sponsorship of the tournament. Louisville, Ky.-based Humana will use it primarily to promote its health and well-being platform through initiatives such as the Walkit program and the Humana Well-Being Tour at a variety of tournaments. The company also uses the “Walk Like a Pro” advertising theme and sponsors PGA Tour player David Toms. It recently added Gary Player to the mix as well as a well-being ambassador.

Humana’s activation also includes a customized 53-foot tractor trailer featuring an interactive hub to promote healthy living. Inside, it has Humana bike stations, where visitors use “pedal power” to blend their own smoothies; Humana biometrics stations, which provide noninvasive biometric screenings; and Walkit stations.

The Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, the industry’s sole remaining licensing exhibition, opens this week with a new owner in Nielsen Expositions, which purchased the show late last year. It will also be held in a bigger location at the Las Vegas Convention Center with an uptick in sales of more than 10 percent and more than 650 exhibitors.

As the licensing industry got healthier over the past several years, so has the show, which has been held at Mandalay Bay for the past several years. While the show was acquired late last year by Nielsen Expositions, it will be operated this year by past show directors Hardy Katz and Stanley Schwartz, who said revenue was up 11 percent for this year’s exhibition. They said buyers from the likes of Wal-Mart and Costco were registered.

For the second consecutive year, the NBA will set up at the show two days early with its own Team Retail Expo, where licensees will display for an audience of team buyers and retailers. Other licensees at the show include CLC, MLS, NASCAR and MLB. With its lockout settled, the NHL last week was trying to find display space. Given the timing of the show, a few weeks before the Super Bowl, there is minimal NFL involvement.

Katz and Schwartz launched the licensing show six years ago from the ashes of the once-mighty Super Show, a comprehensive sporting goods exposition they once managed for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The Super Show, which closed in 2006 after a 21-year run, attracted more than 90,000 attendees during its biggest years in Atlanta.

Katz and Schwartz, who will continue with the show for a year as consultants, began conversations with Nielsen Expositions five months ago. Nielsen’s other sports shows include Outdoor Retailer, Interbike and Health & Fitness Business Expo.

“We have shows that are related and shows that are tangential, like the Imprinted Sportswear Shows, and there is talk about and interest in the licensing business at all of them,” said Darrell Denny, senior vice president of business development at Nielsen Expositions.

Katz said their current agreement has the show committed to Las Vegas through next year. However, Denny said the future location was yet to be determined.

Terry Lefton
IMG’s head of national sales, Lawton Logan, has been “reassigned’’ within the company, according to reliable sources. What that means is not clear, as it appears the scenario has yet to play itself out and is fluid. However, sources said that he has been offered another executive position at IMG, but
Lawton Logan
Photo by: IMG
as of press time, we’re told he had not yet decided whether he was staying with IMG. Additionally, we are told a search for new national sales heads has started. National sales responsibilities have been temporarily handed to Roger VanDerSnick, IMG College’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Logan, a SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Forty Under 40 Hall of Famer, came to IMG during its November 2007 acquisition of Host Communications. He was later named senior vice president of business development with responsibilities for all of IMG’s businesses in North America. He managed IMG’s national sales offices in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

> NUTS TO YOU: Looking to boost sales by borrowing equity from the Harlem Globetrotters and the tour’s “healthy fun” and “good for you” positioning, Wonderful Pistachios has inked a three-year sponsorship with the Globies, which includes a uniform ad patch, something the NBA has been considering for some time. The patch on the left front chest has the nut marketer’s “Get Crackin’” tag line. Uniform supplier Russell has the right side of the Globetrotters jersey.

The Harlem Globetrotters will soon feature the Wonderful Pistachios’ “Get Crackin’” uniform patch.
In addition to a rights fee, Wonderful Pistachios will put millions behind a media buy for TV ads it has produced with five Globetrotter players, which will break late this month. Further integration includes in-game vignettes, title sponsorship of the Globetrotters’ “four-point shot” via PA announcements, along with in-arena sampling and couponing, said Peter LaPointe, senior vice president, partnership and marketing sales with the Globetrotters. “It’s a new level of integration for us,” he said, “and the amount of support they are putting behind it should really help the property.”

Leonard Armato at the Leverage Agency brought home the bacon on this one, as Leverage is the Globetrotters’ sales agency of record.

The Globetrotters tipped off their current 270-show domestic tour Dec. 26. Other endorsers for Wonderful Pistachios have included Manny Pacquiao and Snoop Dogg.

> HONORABLE MENTIONS: “NFL Honors,” the TV show awards ceremony the night before the Super Bowl, rolls into its second year. This year’s venue is Mahalia Jackson Theater in downtown New Orleans, with a taping from 6 to 8 p.m. CT. Top-tier sponsors, which get their names on awards, include Bridgestone, Papa John’s, Lenovo, SAP, Xfinity and Pepsi. Associate sponsors are Marriott, USAA, FedEx and GMC. “As you’d expect in the second year, we’re seeing earlier, better and deeper integration from our partners and their award programs,’’ said Renie Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of business development, sponsorship and media sales. A red carpet show, titled by Xfinity, will air on NFL Network that afternoon, with the ceremonies live-to-tape on Super Bowl rights holder CBS from 9 to 11 p.m. ET. Sponsor benefits include hospitality for the show, vignettes within the show and broadcast, and access to a star-filled cocktail party before the show.

As for new business, Anderson said her department continues to chip away at the technology category. Even with Lenovo and SAP on board as league partners, there may be some opportunity in storage hardware, IT servers and other areas. Elsewhere, the league has been seeking travel dollars, as in rental cars and airlines, for some time now. The lure of a Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium next year has spurred interest in those categories, as well as with financial services brands. “Obviously, we won’t do any one-offs, but there’s interest because of the Super Bowl here that we’re entertaining,” she said.

Other categories still being mined: health care, timepiece, energy provider and some possible business-to-business plays.

> EXTRA BOWL OF SUN: The Fiesta Bowl as a basketball tournament as well as a major bowl game? That idea is quietly being floated in and around the Phoenix/Scottsdale region where one committee controls both the Tostitos-titled Fiesta Bowl and the recently renamed Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which began life as the Copper Bowl in 1989. While stressing that the project was not fully green-lit, nor funded, sources said the concept is to have the game played at University of Phoenix Stadium as soon as December 2014, with Arizona State, the University of Arizona and two big-name Eastern basketball schools.

An exploratory committee has been formed, including members of the Fiesta Bowl committee, NBC and Front Row Marketing, which has relationships with the two bowl games and University of Phoenix Stadium. We’re told Buick has some interest in sponsoring the proposed basketball tourney.

> SOFTER SIDE OF ALL-STAR: Sears is replacing departed NBA corporate sponsor Haier as title sponsor of the Shooting Stars event during the Saturday night skills competition at this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston. The competition will be televised as part of the State Farm-titled All-Star Saturday Night telecast on TNT. The one-off deal gives members of Sears’ “Shop Your Way” frequency/loyalty program the opportunity to earn All-Star Game experiences — including the presentation of the Sears championship trophy to the winning team during a live show. Sears will also advertise on the Saturday night telecast and have a presence at the All-Star Game Jam Session fan fest.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

Last week’s announcement of T-Mobile’s three-year Major League Baseball sponsorship had all the glitz, glamour and noise one expects of a news conference at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Elaborate setting featuring a prototype of T-Mobile cellphone docking stations that will be in MLB ballpark dugouts and the motorcycle from the company’s TV ads? Check. Star power from NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper? Check. Fun bluster from new T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere, who went on a long, entertaining rant on his intent for the country’s fourth-largest wireless carrier to challenge market share leaders AT&T, Verizon and Sprint? Check.

But all that belied just how difficult it was to piece together baseball’s first league-level telecommunications deal in 15 years, and how important the deal is for the sport. The pact, pegged by industry sources at $125 million for the three-year term and roughly a year in development, gives T-Mobile designation as the official wireless sponsor of MLB. The deal also includes extensive rights with MLB Advanced
The deal brings the advent of mobile phones in dugouts to call bullpens.
Media, and T-Mobile will aid efforts to improve in-venue mobile connectivity for fans (see related story).

T-Mobile also will make marketing commitments and advertising buys with MLB rights holders, including a new deal for T-Mobile to become the presenting sponsor of ESPN’s “Wednesday Night Baseball.” The national deal will be supplemented by five or six signature-level club deals, company executives said. T-Mobile is already aligned with the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The pact also brings the advent of mobile phones in MLB dugouts to call bullpens. Teams will have the individual choice on whether to use those mobile phones, and whether the docking stations will carry T-Mobile branding. League executives described the deal as without rival with regard to its scope covering both baseball and business operations.

Telecommunications has long been a vital category in sports marketing, often ranking in importance with the established pillars of auto, beer, soda and financial services. But in baseball, the separate operating structure of MLBAM and the importance of the wireless category to individual clubs made piecing a deal that combined marketing and technology, and that balanced the agendas among all the national and local stakeholders, extraordinarily complex.

Still, Lou Koskovolis, MLB senior vice president of sales and marketing, aggressively targeted a telecommunications deal soon after his arrival to baseball in early 2011, and the league began a long negotiation toward a deal. Genesco Sports Enterprises aided T-Mobile in the talks.

“The technological challenges on this deal were huge, but this is a story of everyone working together to deliver a new asset that would attract a new and important wireless partner after years of chasing one,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. “Most of our fans are using mobile communications to connect with the game, and we developed a great platform with MLBAM to showcase that, along with a dugout [branding] presence which really works for advertisers in a space we protect zealously.”

The deal also marked a union between the cultures of MLB and MLBAM, making a statement to marketers who over the years have privately been frustrated trying to make deals with baseball.

“Honestly, there’s still a part of me that still can’t believe the marriage worked,” between Brosnan and MLBAM President Bob Bowman, said one involved marketer speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a testimony to persistence on many sides of the deal.”

MLB had timing on its side as it sought a telecommunications deal, just as T-Mobile was looking to make a big statement of its own. After a failed merger with AT&T, a dissolution of its NBA ties after six years and a newer merger with Metro PCS, T-Mobile is aiming to use 2013 as a major corporate repositioning as the self-proclaimed “uncarrier” in which it will seek to offer cell service without many of the common industry hassles and contractual constrictions.

The MLB partnership is a major part of that plan.

“Our objective is improve perception of T-Mobile’s network in the marketplace,” said Mike Belcher, T-Mobile vice president of media and sponsorships. “This is a great way for us to bring the capabilities of our network and devices using MLB content. Most people only know about 5 to 10 percent of what a phone can do, so at retail it is a great way to help sell for us.”

Under Armour has signed recently turned pro golfer Jordan Spieth, the former No. 1 ranked amateur in the world, to its first major endorsement deal for a golfer. The brand’s logo will be on Spieth’s golf bag and front of his headwear.

Ryan Kuehl, Under Armour senior director of pro sports, would not disclose the financial terms of the agreement, but did say it was a multiyear deal that includes financial incentives for performance.

Spieth, 19, will wear Under Armour apparel and there are plans for him to wear Under Armour shoes and gloves, which the company will develop in the future. The deal does not include golf clubs.

Under Armour views Spieth as part of the “next generation” of young athletes who have signed on as endorsers in recent years, including Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Atlanta Falcons wide

Under Armour’s logo will be on the headwear and golf bag of Spieth, who was low amateur at last year’s U.S. Open.
receiver Julio Jones, Kuehl said.

Spieth’s accomplishments at a young age attracted Under Armour to the golfer. Spieth led the University of Texas to a 2012 NCAA championship and earned low amateur honors at last year’s U.S. Open, among other achievements.

“If you dominate at that high level, at a junior level, a lot of times that translates to having a very successful career,” Kuehl said.

It is not Under Armour’s first golfer endorsement deal, as it has deals with PGA Tour players Hunter Mahan and Gary Woodland, but those deals are not as substantial and do not feature headwear exposure, Kuehl said. For golfers, endorsements that include logos on the front of their headwear are typically the players’ primary and most lucrative endorsement.

“This is the first deal where we have front of the headwear,” Kuehl said. It’s also the first deal that gives Under Armour the rights to a golfer’s shoes and gloves.

“We are really excited to work with them on helping to develop a golf shoe and golf glove line,” said Jay Danzi, Spieth’s agent and president of Forefront Sports Group, which signed Spieth in December.

Danzi said he is in talks with several golf club manufacturers about a club deal.

Spieth went through PGA qualifying school last fall but did not earn a PGA Tour card. He is scheduled to play at the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament in early February.