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Volume 20 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

International Speedway Corp. has found a new sponsor for its Vision video board property: Ingenuity Sun Media, a company that specializes in digital advertising.

The multiyear deal with the New Jersey-based company will be announced this week, when NASCAR’s 2017 season gets underway with the non-points Advance Auto Parts Clash race at Daytona.

The deal creates ISM Vision Powered by BoldVu and includes naming rights to all video boards across ISC’s 12 speedways and one drag strip. The asset was previously sponsored by Sprint, which is being replaced as Cup Series title sponsor this year by Monster Energy.

ISC is not releasing financial terms for the deal, but sources said last year that the track operator was asking $1.5 million annually. Jeff Hutchins, chief development officer at Ingenuity, noted that the deal contains a revenue-sharing advertising component as well as screens that will be provided to ISC.

Ingenuity builds ad networks on digital screens at places like malls and universities. ISC was drawn to the company because it will not only serve as a sponsor but also will be able to offer its services.

ISM will replace Sprint as the presenting sponsor of ISC video boards.
Photo by: ISC

Ingenuity is going to integrate the same content seen on video boards onto each track’s app as well as the app of Motor Racing Network, the radio network that is owned by ISC. Content includes way-finding technologies, real-time traffic, weather alerts, event schedules, trivia and games.

“We could have taken one brand out and put one brand in, but the more we thought about it, we thought, ‘Is there a more innovative solution? Is there a more fan-friendly solution?’” said Daryl Wolfe, executive vice president and CMO of ISC. “The conversation candidly just started gaining traction and we said, ‘You know what? This may be a better avenue to go down as a company based on what they’re bringing to the table,’ which is a much more holistic solution.”

Each of ISC’s 12 tracks have Vision boards on display on race day, ranging from 9-foot-by-16-foot screens at Auto Club Speedway up to 40-feet-by-80-feet screens at Daytona and Talladega. The boards have become an important part of the race experience, as they not only offer race-related content but also show live action for fans who can’t see part of the action from their seat. ISC’s internal data has shown that 70 percent of fans consider video board content to be very or extremely important.

Sprint initially used the sponsorship just as a way to reiterate to fans their support of NASCAR, but the telecommunications company eventually started weaving in its messaging onto the screens and finding ways to interact directly with fans.

As part of the deal, Manufacturing Resources International, a partner of Ingenuity’s, will provide nearly 200 digital displays and dozens of 86-inch BoldVu screens. The screens will be initially temporary before being made permanent by the end of this year. Ingenuity will also provide a production team to help produce the content, to go along with the in-house production team ISC already has.

On top of the rights fee Ingenuity will pay to ISC, there will be additional revenue-sharing opportunities based on how much advertising is sold to brands as part of the new platform, according to Ingenuity CEO Nelson Martinez. Ad sales efforts will be shared. Ingenuity will also provide consumer analytic insights around the platform to ISC and participating advertisers.

Ingenuity’s move into NASCAR is the company’s first sports play, but Martinez expects it to become one of the more important verticals of business. He said Ingenuity expects to generate $30 million in revenue this year, which would be up substantially from 2016. The company was founded in 2012.

The NBA’s newest sponsor, Jack Daniel’s, leads the list of All-Star activation as the league’s showcase weekend returns to New Orleans.

Jack Daniel’s, which last month signed a deal to replace Diageo as the league’s spirits sponsor, will kick off its partnership with a Jack Daniel’s House No. 7 hospitality venue that will run for two nights in New Orleans. Jack Daniel’s is also a partner of the All-Star celebrity game and the brand will have a media buy throughout All-Star broadcasts.

“It’s their first expression with us,” said Kerry Tatlock, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships with the NBA. “Jack’s House will be a significant presence for fans to see how the partnership comes to life.”

The sponsor has its name on a New Orleans hospitality venue and partners on the celebrity game.
Photo by: NBA

Also activating at All-Star for the first time is ExxonMobil, which is in the first year of its leaguewide deal. The company is using All-Star activities for its “Protection” digital content series that will feature current NBA players and legends.

Tatlock said Mountain Dew is among the most active All-Star sponsors this year, highlighted by its three-on-three basketball tour that debuted last summer. In New Orleans, the brand will hold the Dew NBA 3x All-Star Edition game at Champions Square on All-Star Thursday, with the event to be shown on TNT on Saturday.

“It is the first time we are tying together their summer program and bringing it to All-Star,” Tatlock said. “They will also have new creative around All-Star and just a strong presence overall.”

Other new activations this year include JBL, which takes over from Foot Locker as title partner of the 3-point contest held on All-Star Saturday night.

Companies activating around the league’s new NBA Crossover fan venue during the weekend are Bud Light, Foot Locker, JBL, Stance and Tissot.

Despite the NBA moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte and into New Orleans this summer due to North Carolina’s HB2 law, Tatlock said sponsorship plans have not been hurt by the location shift. The All-Star Game was last held in New Orleans in 2014.

“In some ways, the condensed timeline made everyone double down and do it differently,” she said. “We have seen no shortage of activity.”

Other activation highlights include Kia again having its logo on the upper left front of this year’s All-Star Game jerseys. Kia is also title sponsor of the All-Star MVP Award.

State Farm continues its title sponsorship of All-Star Saturday Night for the eighth consecutive year. The company also will be title partner of the State Farm All-Star Assist Center, a “social hub” located in Champions Square.

Kumho Tire continues as presenting partner of the NBA D-League All-Star Game. Nike will launch its new “Equality” campaign featuring athletes from several sports, including the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James.

The end of the NFL season means the start of the selling season for NFL corporate sponsorships. Primary concerns there surround a quartet of deals that expire after next season, among them some of the NFL’s largest — rights now held by Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Bose and Microsoft, the last two of which include pricey NFL sideline exposure rights.

Are there additional lines of business Bose and Microsoft might be interested in using the sidelines to market?

The NFL can sell one additional sideline partner. But while Renie Anderson, NFL senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management, said the league wants to “continue to evolve technology on the sidelines,” she also pledged that any new sponsor with sideline rights “would have to offer technology integration that really benefits the game, like Bose (headphones), Microsoft (Surface tablets) and Gatorade do.”

Outside of the broad-based technology sector, Anderson said the league continues to pursue some traditional sponsorship categories, including home improvement retail, where the league has been without a sponsor since Home Depot failed to renew after the 2009 season, and airlines, where Southwest flew away following the 2006 season.

Spirits continues to be a category closed for league sponsorship but open for NFL teams to sell. Still, the league is beginning to examine the category more closely “to see what it might look like,” Anderson said.