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Volume 20 No. 42
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Pantech ends Dew Tour event title sponsorship

Pantech plans to discontinue its sponsorship of the Dew Tour, leaving the series without an event title sponsor for its first competition of the year in Ocean City, Md.

The phone manufacturer signed on with the tour in 2011 in a deal valued at $2 million to $3 million annually. The deal was done to promote new phones aimed at teens and young adults, and Pantech was pleased with the deal, but it decided to discontinue the sponsorship this year because it doesn’t have a phone aimed at that demographic.

“Pantech Mobile has had a successful partnership with the Alli Sports Dew Tour in 2011 and 2012,” a Pantech spokesperson said in a statement. “While we have made a strategic decision to not be involved in the 2013 Dew Tour as a sponsor, we will consider being involved in future events.”

Dew Tour general manager Kenny Mitchell said he doesn’t anticipate replacing Pantech with a new title sponsor before the Ocean City event June 20-23.

Though the Dew Tour lost Pantech, it is close to completing renewals with Toyota, which has sponsored the tour since 2005, and the National Guard.

Toyota’s renewal was not guaranteed. The tour reduced its total number of stops from seven events to three last year, and Toyota marketers said last year that they planned to evaluate the effect that had on the reach and value of their sponsorship.

“From a consumer engagement perspective, I would always like to see a higher number of events so more consumers can interact with Toyota and our vehicles on-site, but the decision to do fewer events better was the right decision for the Dew Tour,” said Jim Baudino, engagement marketing manager at Toyota Motor Sales, in an email. “There was strong attendance in each of the three markets, and the new Festival Village provided a more engaging consumer experience.”

The Dew Tour is changing its approach to sponsorship sales. The property is a part of NBC Sports Ventures and the division recently hired Steven Justman to lead its sales efforts. He is building a sales team that will work with Alli’s sales agency, SJX Partners, to find new sponsors for the tour.

Alli Sports, which oversees the Dew Tour, also is looking to hire a new, in-house sales executive to replace Charlie Severn, its former vice president of sales and partnerships, who left earlier this year to join the Nashville Predators.

The 2013 Dew Tour, which will visit Ocean City, San Francisco and Breckenridge, Colo., plans to add a new lifestyle element at each stop this year. It will highlight graphic arts, photography and film tied to action sports at each event, respectively. For example, in Ocean City, it will set up an exhibit of graphic arts at a local art gallery.

“We’re thinking about the evolution of the mission of the Dew Tour,” Mitchell said. “We want to celebrate the totality of action sports and … make sure what we were doing was standing for something bigger than the events.”

In addition to the new lifestyle events at each stop, the tour is changing its programming plans on NBC and NBC Sports Network. In 2012, it had 12 hours of programming on NBC and 21 on NBC Sports Network. This year, it will have 16 hours on NBC and 17 on NBC Sports Network.

The four new hours on NBC will be focused on shoulder programming. It will have one-hour specials on action sports in July, August, September and early December. The specials will focus on athlete features and tour highlights.

“We decided to shake that up and try and do more to drive consumer viewership and engagement,” Mitchell said.