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Sports Business

Century 21 deal could boost Fisher's team to new level

March 15, 2013
KEYWORDS Sports Business

While Josef Newgarden was wrapping up two days of IndyCar Series testing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama this week, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing co-owner Sarah Fisher was in Las Vegas unveiling the team’s new paint scheme for its No. 21 car for the Indianapolis 500.

Global real estate franchisor Century 21 will be the primary sponsor of the team’s primary car for the 97th running of the 500-mile race.

“Being part of a team that brings new partners to IndyCar is an honor for us here at SFHR,” Fisher said. “Not only do we feel inspired after being chosen by Century 21, but we are also proud to represent such a strong brand whose household name resonates well beyond their industry.”

Financial terms of the deal were not released, but motorsports marketing experts estimated it is worth $500,000.

As a rookie at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2012, Newgarden turned heads by topping the speed charts on multiple practice days and securing the highest spot on the starting grid of all Honda-powered cars.

“It makes sense for us to team up with a world-class company like Century 21 at the biggest race in the world, and it’s a huge coup for SFHR,” Newgarden said. “We proved that we were one of the fastest teams on that track last year, and I can’t wait to get out there and do it again with Century 21 behind us.”

Newgarden, like Fisher, has turned out to be a popular IndyCar figure among the series’ fans. The 22-year-old American is a former IndyLights champ who not only showed flashes of potential as a driver last year but as a marketer as well. He was the focus of a good bit of media attention and has made several videos that have gone viral.

Century 21 is comoised of 7,100 independently owned and operated franchised broker offices in 73 countries and territories worldwide with more than 100,000 sales professionals.

Fisher, a former racer who was voted the most popular driver in the open-wheel series on multiple occasions, is the IndyCar Series’ only female and youngest team owner. Fisher has had a number of high-profile sponsorship deals, including pacts with AAA and Dollar General. But like many IndyCar teams, she has  struggled to nail down one, big, long-term primary sponsor.

Yet Fisher is nothing if not resourceful. She formed her own team in 2008 and opened a new spiffy headquarters in downtown Speedway last year. After having trouble with her first announced sponsor, Gravity Entertainment, as a team owner, Fisher scrambled to put together deals with tex4cars.com, IUPUI and Catalyst PDG Inc. to field a car in the 2008 Indianapolis 500. Fisher even gained an endorsement from former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Century 21 could turn out to be a powerful promoter for Fisher’s race team. If things go well at Indianapolis, motorsports marketers think Century 21 could become a bigger season-long sponsor. Clearly, the company has the resources to pour a seven-figure sum into the team.

Century 21 bought TV airtime during the last two Super Bowls and last summer sponsored U.S. Soccer through the 2012 Summer Olympics and ran 100 TV spots on NBC throughout the two-week event.

Bev Thorne, Century 21's chief marketing officer, said sponsoring an IndyCar “provides another outstanding opportunity” to highlight the company’s Smarter, Bolder, Faster ad campaign.

“Whether it’s the Super Bowl, the Olympics, U.S. Soccer, or the Indy 500, we want to showcase the capabilities of our sales professionals in front of the largest audience possible,” Thorne said.

Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is May 12. Pole Day is May 18.

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