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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Old Spice became the latest brands to drop their official sponsorship of NASCAR ahead of the 2013 season, but Gillette plans to stay in the sport as an associate sponsor of the Target Chip Ganassi team.

The decision brings an end to Gillette’s 10-year run as the sport’s official shaving product. The brand signed its last deal with NASCAR four years ago and negotiated official sponsorships for fellow Procter & Gamble brands Head & Shoulders and Old Spice as part of the agreement.

Gillette’s efforts centered on its “Young Guns.”
Sources valued the deal in the low seven figures annually.

Gillette, Old Spice and Head & Shoulders join Office Depot, DirecTV, Featherlite Coaches and USG Corp. in ending their NASCAR official sponsorships ahead of the season. NASCAR last year renewed deals with Goodyear, MillerCoors, COPD, Featherlite Trailers, Chevrolet and Ford for this season.

Unlike Office Depot, which ended both its NASCAR sponsorship and its sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 car, Gillette plans to stay in NASCAR as an associate sponsor through the Target Chip Ganassi program on the No. 42 car.

“It’s not because [NASCAR] wasn’t working for us,” said Greg Via, Gillette’s global director of sports marketing. “We just had to make some really hard choices. [The Target Chip Ganassi relationship] is a way for us to get product moved through a retailer. That’s huge for us. It’s a way for us to stay in the sport, and we know the sport will continue to work for us.”

Gillette, which was acquired by P&G for $57 billion in 2009, has concentrated many of its sports marketing efforts on the NFL and the Olympics in recent years. P&G signed a deal with the NFL in 2009 and added a worldwide Olympic sponsorship in 2010. It also has a personal care agreement with MLB that Gillette and Head & Shoulders promote.

Those sponsorship commitments made it difficult for Gillette to extend its official NASCAR deal. The company made a big push into the sport in 2003 when it signed six drivers — Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman — and dubbed them the Gillette Young Guns.

It stuck with that program for eight years before cutting the number of drivers to two, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, and adding Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in 2011. The brand no longer endorses Hamlin or Busch. It will have a relationship with driver Juan Pablo Montoya through the Target Chip Ganassi Racing program.

“NASCAR works for brands that activate it well,” Via said. “We were not as good a partner as we could have been.”

When NHRA fans pop into a store to grab a soda this summer, they will see a familiar logo inside the stores’ refrigerators.

Mello Yello bottles nationwide will feature the NHRA logo and offer an $8 ticket discount to fans. The program is the most expansive national promotion Coca-Cola has run against the NHRA since the company first became a title sponsor of the NHRA in 2001. It’s the most high-profile aspect of a multifaceted marketing campaign that includes TV spots, radio commercials and on-site activation that is designed to promote the first year that Mello Yello replaces Full Throttle as title sponsor of the drag racing series.

“The creative is so great,” said Sharon Byers, Coca-Cola’s senior vice president, sports and entertainment marketing partnerships. “Retailers love it. The NHRA loves it. It’s going to be that whole 360 [marketing campaign that] you see the Coca-Cola marketing machine do all the time.”

Coca-Cola last year signed an extension with the NHRA that runs through 2018. Under the agreement, the company opted to rebrand the organization’s top series as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. It was known as the Powerade series (2001-08) and the Full Throttle series (2009-12) after that.

The company hopes that aligning Mello Yello with the NHRA helps the drink chip away at Mountain Dew’s lead in the citrus soda category. Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew have an 84 share of the citrus segment in the soft drink category, according to Beverage Digest. Mello Yello’s share of the market is just 4 percent, according to Beverage Digest.

Byers said that making Mello Yello the title sponsor of the NHRA is already paying dividends. The company’s internal research showed an uptick in Mello Yello sales after it announced the sponsorship last fall, and Byers credited the deal with helping Mello Yello get distribution at Dollar General and Circle K.

“We need to sell into our retailers and get additional availability,” Byers said. “From a Mello Yello perspective, it will certainly help us with volume and profit.”

Mello Yello will begin distributing 16-ounce, NHRA-branded cans at retail outlets in May. Those cans, which will be available through August, will offer buyers an $8 discount on NHRA tickets. The brand also plans to feature the NHRA logo on 20-ounce cans and bottles of Mello Yello and Mello Yello Zero. It will complement those bottles with point-of-sale materials at stores in regions where the NHRA is popular. In addition to the retail promotion, Mello Yello will have a major activation at the NHRA’s 24 races this year.

Everything Mello Yello does around the NHRA will emphasize a new tag line developed specifically for the series called “Go on Yello.” The tag line, which is a play on the drag racing lights that flash before drivers explode off the starting line, was developed by NHRA drivers.

The World Golf Hall of Fame has taken a “less is more” approach to sponsorship over its 15 years, with Shell serving as its only primary sponsor, but the hall has found a new partner in Rolex.

The timekeeper already has endorsement deals with many of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s inductees, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam and Phil Mickelson. That helped trigger an interest from Rolex in the St. Augustine, Fla.-based hall, near Jacksonville.

Terms of the contract were not available, but it is a multiyear deal.

“This will provide Rolex with the opportunity for some great message integration, given its relationships with hall of famers and now the hall,” said Jack Peter, chief operating officer at the World Golf Hall of Fame. “We’ve been talking to them for probably the past year. The hall is a unique animal. We’re not like a golf tournament with all those hours of network TV, so it really does take a natural fit.”

Rolex will place its recognizable clocks around the hall’s campus at the World Golf Village, the same clocks that the timekeeper uses at many golf championships it sponsors in the U.S. and Europe.

Details are still being discussed to determine just how much of a presence Rolex will have at the annual induction ceremonies each May.

Peter hopes that the Rolex deal will propel the hall’s sales efforts. He leads those efforts for the hall and works with the sales and marketing team at the PGA Tour and other golf properties for cross-selling opportunities.

Shell has been on board as a founding partner since the hall opened in 1998. Others, such as Nextel and Ketel One, have had sponsor relationships with the hall over the years, but are not currently partners.

Peter would like to see the sponsor list grow to four or five blue-chip companies.

“What we do is represent the game and recognize greatness, so whoever we partner with must share those same ideals,” Peter said.

Rolex will have the designation as the hall’s exclusive timepiece. Peter said the hall did not engage any other companies in the watch category during its talks with Rolex.

NAPA Auto Parts and Behr Paints have renewed deals with Soccer United Marketing for sponsorship of Mexico’s men’s national team.

The renewals — valued at seven figures annually, according to industry sources — are seen as an illustration of the increased popularity of the Mexican club. ESPN recently announced a deal to add the club’s matches to its broadcast schedule, in English, through 2014.

The deals demonstrate the rising popularity of Mexico’s men’s national team.
Photo: SUM
“Univision’s work in growing the Mexican team property has been incredible, and now you’re seeing the results,” David Wright, SUM senior vice president of global sponsorship, said of the Spanish-language network. “ESPN now supporting the property shows the strength of soccer and the brand of the Mexican team.”

An exhibition match last June between Mexico and Brazil at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was seen by 6.2 million viewers on Univision.

SUM is the marketing arm of Major League Soccer and represents the Mexican team in its deals.

For NAPA, the extension is through the club’s 2014 season — notable because 2014 is a World Cup year. Behr’s deal is also a multiyear deal, but information was not available on its specific length.

NAPA retains its status as the team’s official auto parts provider. It also retains exclusive on-site promotional rights and television-side LED field board signage for all Mexican national team games played in the United States. In addition, NAPA will receive increased social and digital media support, client hospitality (including on-field experiences pregame), and in-store appearances by former members of the national team. NAPA has been aligned with the team since 2007.

“The partnership delivers a great deal of visibility to Mexican and Mexican-American consumers, especially among our target market of men 18-to-49,” said Gaylord Spencer, vice president of marketing strategy for NAPA. “It’s a centerpiece of our entire Hispanic marketing program.”

Behr first became a Mexican national team sponsor last May with a one-year deal for high six figures. The multiyear renewal continues the use of a Behr paint can by referees at all Mexican team matches in the United States. The deal additionally provides for the referee’s Behr paint can to be mentioned once each half during all Mexican team matches on Univision.

Paint is a visible part of soccer, as referees will use cans to mark 10 yards between the spot of a free kick and a defensive wall.

“It’s a great example of an authentic product integration into a match broadcast,” Wright said.

The exclusive paint of the Mexican national team, Behr retains field-board signage for the club’s U.S. tour this year and next and for its World Cup qualifiers in Mexico; on-site activation at the club’s matches in the United States; and tickets as part of the deal, among other elements.

Behr also adds a multiyear sponsorship of the CONCACAF Champions League — also represented by SUM for corporate sales — to extend its exposure in soccer.

NAPA worked with PM Publicidad on its deal; Behr handled its deal internally.

Kevin Weekes was an NHL goaltender for more than a decade before becoming a TV analyst immediately after his retirement in 2009. He now is an entrepreneur, as well.

Weekes’ sports lifestyle apparel company, No 5 Hole, started last May on the strength of social media and personal networking: Weekes has more than 70,000 Twitter followers, along with a large contact base of athletes, broadcasters and influencers. As sales have increased, so too has No 5 Hole’s line of products, which are manufactured by three companies near Weekes’ home in Toronto. He is the sole investor in the company, which Weekes said has sold more than 8,000 pieces, and he has retailers in Raleigh, where he played with the NHL Hurricanes, and in the Toronto area.

Retired NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes (above) is the sole investor in No 5 Hole apparel. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (below) and other athletes have used social media to tout the brand.
Photos: NO 5 HOLE (2)
Hockey writer Christopher Botta spoke with the 37-year-old Weekes, a studio analyst for the NHL Network and CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” about his new day job.

Why did you get into retail?

WEEKES: It’s something I wanted to do back when I was playing, but coaches don’t like their athletes having distractions, so once I felt my broadcasting career was established, it was time. It’s a startup operation, no doubt. I work from home and I stock product in my house. My wife helps out with the little time she has away from work. It’s mostly me, social media and making connections in the retail world.

Having all the manufacturers, printers and designers within a 15-minute drive from my house helps.

How would you rate your success so far?

WEEKES: Not bad, considering I started last May with just two T-shirts that said “I Have No 5 Hole.” Now we have a half-dozen styles of shirts, four kinds of hoodies and four hockey jerseys. We have a women’s line. I’m the sole investor, but I keep everything local and my costs are reasonable, so my overhead is low.

Do you have a role model in business?

WEEKES: Kevin Plank of Under Armour. He started the same way in 1996, basically creating product out of his home in Georgetown and developing it into a giant. In 2001, I was one of the first NHL players wearing Under Armour. Selling 8,000 units may not seem like much, but from my reading, I know it’s more than Under Armour did in its first year. Kevin’s story is a big influence on me and will continue to be. I’ve had some advantages: Goalies like Jonathan Quick, Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury have worn my stuff and tweeted about it. [NFLers] Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan have been big supporters. Twitter has been a godsend.

Is finding retail distribution your biggest challenge?

WEEKES: It’s not easy, but we’re making progress while we make the product available online at my site, I want retail partners that interface well with customers. Anybody can make T-shirts and jerseys, but making a connection with customers is key.

With little time to balance your broadcasting schedule while running a growing business, is it in the plans to add more full-time staff, maybe even someone to hand the reins to this year?

WEEKES: This year? How about tomorrow? With the way we’re trending now, I will need people to run this with me. That said, I’m always going to be very hands-on with the business and engaging with the customers.