Local firm brokers huge F1 deal

November 26, 2008
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zakWhen I first met Zak Brown in 2001, it was to interview him for a story about his mostly unheard of company, Just Marketing. At the time, I was writing a “Small Business Profile” for IBJ’s print edition. Brown, a native Californian with no education beyond high school and no formal training in marketing, had a couple contacts in the airline industry and a short history driving in the Formula One feeder leagues. I interviewed him in a dank office on the back side of a business park on the city’s northwest side.

But shortly after that profile ran—and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the profile—Brown began nailing down a litany of big deals for Subway restaurants, Hilton Hotels and DeWalt Tools among others. He brokered deals with NASCAR to bring in the first hard liquor companies—Smirnoff and Crown Royal—as sponsors into the series and began inking some eight-figure deals in F1.

The fact that he now has top executives of every major racing series worldwide on speed dial is almost funny, when I think back about the 29-year-old I first interviewed. In 2002, a high-level Indy Racing League executive asked me who Zak Brown was, and why I kept quoting him in stories. My response was, “If you don’t know who Zak Brown is, you should.”

NASCAR was much quicker to realize the prize auto racing had in Brown and his growing Indianapolis firm.

“He’s done quite a body of work in NASCAR, and there isn’t anyone on the business side—or really any side—who doesn’t know Zak and his firm,” NASCAR boss Brian France told IBJ in 2005. “He’s been good for NASCAR, its teams and drivers.”

I think it’s safe to say IRL officials know who Brown is now. The series hired him to find a title sponsor last year. He hasn’t managed that trick yet. His failure to land an IRL title sponsor hasn’t slowed his business much. Even in this rocky economy the easy speaking Brown continues to sign major clients and huge deals. Oddly, I still run into quite a few Zak Brown doubters in the sports marketing field. I’m not sure where the skepticism is born.

Today, Just Marketing announced it brokered a deal with LG Electronics and F1. You can bet there are a lot of zeroes on the pact’s bottom line. This comes at a time when a Charlotte-based motorsports marketing consultant told me nothing is doing in the sponsorship arena right now—nothing!

I’m told by sources in a position to know that the LG agreement is an easy eight-figure deal. Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, LG has over 75 subsidiaries worldwide that design and manufacture televisions, home appliances, and telecommunications devices and over 83,000 Employees worldwide, with 2007 revenue of over $58 billion.

The agreement brokered by Brown means LG will have the following designations: Technology Partner of F1,  Official Consumer Electronics of F1, Official Data Processor of F1, Official Mobile Phone of F1, A Global Partner of F1.

With so many Just Marketing successes, it's almost easy to glaze over this one. But those are some very hefty categories worthy of a year’s worth of heavy lifting for some sports marketing firms. For Just Marketing, it’s just another Happy Thanksgiving.
  • Kind if makes those haters step back a step or two. But the ones on this blog only hate him because he is involved in the IRL and anything related to TG or the IRL is grounds for them to hate.

    Zak is a tremedous success story, good for him. Too bad neither you or I got in on the ground floor with him in 2001.
  • When will the promised IRL* title sponsor be announced? Zak promised it by 2009.
  • Knda makes you look at the IRL in realistic terms, doesn't it. Like the fat kid at the dance, nobody picked em up. :lol:
  • This all kind of makes you haters look silly. But of course what should we expect from c>rt/owrs/ccws fans.
  • Even Just Marketing can't market the IRL

    BTW, Brazilian ethanol industry has taken a dive since it signed on with the league

    The American ethanol industry took a dive after signing on with the league.

    See a pattern there, anywhere?
  • How does the inability for the IRL to be marketed make them haters look silly?
  • This is too funny!!
    Thanks again Tony for destroying American open wheel racing.
    Of course no one wants to support a series that can't support itself.
    Having the so called biggest race is not helping either.
    Would you want to invest your money in a series determined to go backwards with every step? Waiting till 2011 to make a new engine and chassis will be what eventually kills the league.The other moronic moves also involve the change of tv to Reversus is laughable.
    The ethanol thing is huge too. Good job Tony in pissing off the state of Iowa!
    Tony needs to court a Columbian drug cartel! Then he can get his coke for free!
  • How peeps keep chuggin this IRL/Tony koolaid is beyond me.....
  • Phew on Hooey:

    You naysayers are sickening. Don't you know it's not about any of us believeing or necessarily buying everything that goes on. We have no control over anything that occurs only hope that things work out for the best. Perhaps as you may say, they won't. But I do know that there are a whole lot of people involved that are much smarter and better positioned than any of you nattering naybobs of negativity. We should all hope that the vision comes to pass.

    All of you fence sitters ready to seal the doom...perhaps you'll all fall off the fance face first in your own waste. And, by the way, Mr. Cropliman, if you would bother to check the facts, the IRL didn't go to the Brazilian company by choice, it was because the American supplier went out of business. The Brazilian company has pledged to buy the products from American suppliers.

    Perhaps all you goofs should just choke on your own swill that you keep spouting. As I've said before, enoough is enough.
  • How silly do the c>rt/owrs/ccws lovers look when they try to blame the Ethanol Industry drop on the IRL. Go to the local gas station. Look at the price of Regular unleaded. Then look at the price of the E-85. Right now they are about the same. Anyone who cares to learn facts will find out that to be competitive, E-85 must be 30% cheaper than gas for it to be economically feasible. That is the main reason that Ethanol is hurting. So are you saying lower gas prices are TG's fault?

    BTW, the Jonestown Massacre used Flavor Aid, not Kool Aid. But again, what are facts to the c>rt/owrs/ccws crowd, but things that get in the way of their skewed reality.
  • So indyman, you're telling us TOney is jumping on the deathanol bandwagon just as it's about to go off the cliff. Great news for this former OW fan.
  • No, I am telling you he is getting money for his series from a sponsor. The American Ethanol industry is hurting because they are based on corn which is not the best source. The Brazillian industry is based on Sugar cane which is a better source. It is cheaper to produce than american ethanol, that is why the US has a tariff on Brazillian ethanol.

    So pain in the US Ethanol industry has little affect on the Brazilian. Of course do not count US ethanol out. The US is close to having commercial ethanol made from corn stalks, switch grass and other cheap sources. This will make it more affordable and a better choice than using a food source.

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  1. Great article and post scripts by Mike L (Great addition to IBJ BTW). Bobby's stubborn as a mule, and doubt if he ever comes back to IU. But the love he would receive would be enormous. Hope he shows some time, but not counting on it.

  2. When the Indiana GOP was going around the State selling the Voucher bill they were promising people that the vouchers would only be for public charter schools. They lied. As usual.

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  4. Jim, your "misleading" numbers comment is spot on. This is the spin these posers are putting on it. News flash, fans: these guys lie. They are not publicly traded so no one holds them accountable for anything they say. The TV numbers are so miniscule to begin with any "increase" produces double digit "growth" numbers. It's ridiculous to think that anything these guys have done has awakened the marketplace. What have they done? Consolidate the season so they run more races on consecutive weekends? And this creates "momentum." Is that the same momentum you enjoy when you don't race between August and March? Keep in mind that you are running teams who barely make ends meet ragged over the summer to accomplish this brilliant strategy of avoiding the NFL while you run your season finale at midnight on the East Coast. But I should not obfuscate my own point: any "ratings increase" is exactly what Jim points to - the increased availability of NBC Sports in households. Look fans, I love the sport to but these posers are running it off a cliff. Miles wants to declare victory and then run for Mayor. I could go on and on but bottom line for God's sake don't believe a word they say. Note to Anthony - try doing just a little research instead of reporting what these pretenders say and then offering an "opinion" no more informed than the average fan.

  5. If he's finally planning to do the right thing and resign, why not do it before the election? Waiting until after means what - s special election at tax payer expense? Appointment (by whom?) thus robbing the voters of their chance to choose? Does he accrue some additional financial advantage to waiting, like extra pension payments? What's in it for him? That's the question that needs to be asked.