Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Chip Stack: Short Stacked with about 20 Blinds Remaining

Editor's Note: This Post came out PRE - Lotus Engine Announcement. With the engine involvement AND the aero kit+color scheme This relationship moves up to the Blue Chip Level.

In honor of the “impending” 2011 season finale at Las Vegas, I thought I would take stock of the current Sponsorship, Marketing and Media relationships the Izod IndyCar series currently has, WSOP style. Hence the Chip Count. Blue Chips are worth 10, Red Chips are worth 5 and white chips won’t be counted because they tend to follow the bigger chips around. For the series to grow, this stack needs to grow. Generally chips are earned for series wide sponsors or primary car sponsorships, but if the sponsor is too obscure, chips aren’t earned. Let’s get on with the inventory…

Blue Chips (10 Points each)

Izod – A Title sponsor is worth 5 points simply for having their name on the product, Blue chip status comes with the activation, celebrity networking, buzz build and positioning equity they lend the league.

Honda – No Brainer Here…

Chevrolet – May need to break out with Purple chips if Chevy is competitive right out of the box in 2012

Verizon – This spot may be a bit premature pending the long overdue Angstadt press conference, but that ad with Power and Alagier was placed outside IICS broadcasts and that has to mean something.

Target – Solid…While probably not what is could be, activation within Stores is not nascar biased and that is unusual.

50 Points From Blue Chips

Red Chips (5 Points Each)

Dollar General – Activation has been nice, the car stands out and gets IndyCar into smaller communities across a wide geographic region.

Lotus – Nice for old school fans, and will give the series a sexy exotic feel once casual fans realize it is a sportscar and not a yoga position.

Firestone – Every race series has a tire sponsor and not worth 5 chips without the heavy in broadcast ad placement and involvement in race sponsorship and further down the development ladder

National Guard – One of the Big 4 armed forces would be a blue chip, but Panther and Dan Wheldon have done well with this relationship, finding an American driver (Read: JR Hildebrand) to take it to the next level is the next logical step.

Apex Brasil – That’s a lot of Money Wilbur…

Go Daddy – Danica and her Go Daddy hook up is a relationship known well beyond the IndyCar faithful. Now does anybody actually remember Danica is “IndyCar’s Own”?

BSA – Great relationship to expose imaginations at just the right age…

NTB – Core Industry sponsors are always good.

Versus – Say what people will, Versus is in as many Households as Speed and on the three systems I have had, they have always been the channel NEXT TO Speed. Good broadcasts and an audience for the rest of its programming that is off the beaten path for auto racing. And Pending Final Merger details…

BAND TV – The BIG secret of the IndyCar series…nascar sized ratings in one of the world’s top 10 and fastest growing economies…Soon friends, we will see stickers like “Ipiranga” on the side of IndyCars for no other purpose than for this audience to see them whiz by…

50 Chips from Red Chips

Close but no cigar – ie White chips…

Venom – Venom is owned by Dr Pepper, if only the parent company was on the side of that car every race….

7/11 – Easy Come, Easy Go….There's a lesson to be learned here...

Mazda – Sponsoring the entire formula root of the feeder series and an engine sponsorship for Lights would move Zoom Zoom up the list.

Peak – Torn, lots of in broadcast ads and I saw a cutout at AutoZone once but…

Z-Line – Solid Backing for Justin is appreciated, but this brand is just a little too obscure

Sunoco – Every race series has an official Fuel, tell me something I don’t already know.

ABC – An effort comparable to a late night air buy is a big demerit from what should be a blue chip relationship.

Total Chip Count = 101 (100 from symbolic chips and 1 actual Chip)

This is down from the day reunification was announced but Up from where we were at the end of last season. Back at reunification, the partner points were way down compared to where they are now, but the stickers on the sides of the cars were better. The off season is not over and we will revisit the topic. As for a goal???? Needs to be 150 by the start of the season. Keep at it Randy et al…

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match…

I was scarfing down lunch today and mentally playing fantasy matchmaker with open or hypothetical second seats at various teams and the drivers who could fill them. Taking the big three + Foyt out of the equation, here’s some I came up with. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Panther – JRHildebrand - Full Time program, Ed Carpenter – Oval Program, John Edwards - Road +500 program. Some of this may be in the works already. Robin Miller has placed JR meeting Guard Brass last week. If you have been at a Pacer game this year, you know that Fuzzy and Ed are going to be somewhere next year and it’s a pretty cool use of the new balcony rim lights at the fieldhouse. If it is true that the guard is paying Panther $10m a year to field a team, and $3M is no longer going to Dan Wheldon you would imagine that it would not require a large amount of incremental money to round out the rest of the road schedule and like JR, Edwards would be another good match for the core sponsor.

Lotus/KV – Sato and Tracy…Come on Jimmy and Kevin… Do the right thing…

Newman Haas – Lloyd and Mutoh. Alex had a good year driving on the leftovers of Citgo’s dime, it would be nice to see him take a step up into a better ride in 2011. Word has been that the clock is ticking down for one of the storied teams in open wheel history, here’s to a 4th quarter deal coming together for a pairing that was supposed to happen last year.

Coyne – Viso and Summerton. Viso has money and will be somewhere, while word still has him at KV next year, Dale gave Milka’s Venezuelan money a good ride and he would do the same for EJ’s as well. Jonathan was one of the drivers in the mix for the BSA ride last year and, like the National Guard pairing above, this would be another bold step towards logical sponsor/driver alignment.

Dreyer Reinbold – Wilson, Conway and Beatriz. Wilson is signed, a Comeback by Conway would be a great story and frankly we all could use a little more Ana Beatriz.

Conquest – Baguette and Vernay. Bertrand was a pleasant surprise last year and the Lights champ should always have the chance to move up. Can you imagine the Continental Breakfast at the Conquest hospitality tent? Croissants, Waffles and Brie!

Sarah Fisher Racing – Townsend Bell with Sarah back for the 500. Randy Bernard killing off the under promoted and under attended races at ISC properties for hopefully better attended ones elsewhere should play well with a marketing plan for Herbalife to use race events to get distributors in touch with and sampling to a large number of potential new customers. If the Dollar General money buys into Townshend as well, could this be a full season deal with split sponsorship?

TCGR Satellite operated by Sam Schmidt – Graham plus Jay Howard for the 500. We may hear about something like this real soon…

DeFerren Dragon – Kanaan and Matos. Tony runs on Sugarcane Ethanol and could probably teach Raphael a thing or two, both on the track and how to be more congenial to fans off the track.

Fazzt – Tagliani and Hinchliffe. In case you have not noticed, there are a few examples of “All Nation” teams in this list – let’s throw in one more! And all of Canada, both English and French speaking, came together for a group hug, and a dog wash.

HVM – Desilvestra and Pippa Mann. Simona is booked for next year and Pippa would be a nice pairing for the 500 plus a couple other events. As for sponsorship, someone get H&M on the phone!

Rahal Letterman – Dan Wheldon for the 500 and perhaps the rest of the Ovals? To date the NOZ has only been in hand, perhaps it’s time to be on the side of a car too…

And Finally, JP’s Lottery Money would buy up any leftover 3G, Vision or any other equiptment he can get his hands on for Oriol Servia, Roger Yasukawa and Wade Cunningham. Because good, talented guys deserve rides too.

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