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

March 15, 2013
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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.

  • All upside
    For a series an an epic struggle for relevance and survival, nearly forgotten and obviously ignored by the masses, this is a very good piece of news with great potential. I admire Sarah Fisher's dedication to the sport in general, the Indianapolis 500 in particular. She has proven to be a very savvy businesswoman and has an excellent representative of racing behind the wheel. She really represents the true spirit of the sport as we once knew it. All upside here. All upside.
    • All Roses but for you
      All upside Burl except for you first sentence. Chill out, and enjoy. If you can't, please stay away. Stay away from the track, the blogs, everything unless you're going to put your resume at 16th and G-town. I know , I know that would break your heart not to have a podium to bash the past on. P.S. I heard Oklahoma football is ready for spring training;)
    • Fact is Fact
      DJ, fact is fact. And the fact is, the series itself, is little regarded and has a very small fan base. I mean, VERY small. I applaud Century 21 for supporting the only thing that keeps this sport alive at all, the Indianapolis 500. That is all I am saying here. It is great news. There may be hope yet. Century 21 made a good move here.
      • Good News
        Also, Miller/Coors just re-upped with IMS. That's been continuous since 1996. Must be working.
      • 1,000 times
        Burl, you've said that a thousand times, geez say something positive and stop, just stop. Man you'd probably complain about the statue of Venus being ugly because she has no arms while saying "but it's still a nice statue"!
      • 25/8
        Did Frank's Energy Drink re-up? I can't wait to see the new Lotus cars next week. Things are working and looking up, if you have blinders on.
      • The Obsession Continues
        Have not heard from Frank's lately, but nice nostalgia. It will busy enough with other sponsors such as Lids, Fuzzy's, Verizon, RC, Miller/Coors (juust re-upped for another five years of a partnership that began in 1996), Wenger, Sunoco, ABC Supply, Hot Wheels, Izod, Avis, Exact Target, Target and many others. If you want to see Lotus you need to tune into Formula 1. Lotus could not hack it in IndyCar and are now on the outside looking in. Global brands Chevrolet and Honda will continue having quite a battle. Keep watching! Oh, and congratulations to SFHR Racing.
      • How do we know?
        I think we should all follow the caution that Disciple always explains to everyone about digging for the actual facts of anything to do with financial numbers and IMS/Indycar. That would also count for the teams. Until we all see the contracts of the actual dollar figures behind these sponsorships how do we know how much is actually being spent. It only costs a couple hundred dollars to do large logos for a car's sidepods out of vinyl. Some of these deals may not be for all that much, but can lend an appearance of big sponsorship. So, when Disciple and Indyman call out Chief and others for saying over $800 million has been lost by the series by asking him for proof of those figures, it would only be fair that you ask for proof of these sponsorships. Let's take IZOD for a good example. They are always touted as being the major series sponsor. They sure do not act like it. That makes me wonder how much they actually spend. For the series to appear major doesn't it look better to flash that name around even if there is no there there? Fair is fair. So, follow Disciple advice. Don't fall for all these announcements based on logos on a car. Until the figures are announced, we just don't know how much bang is there in those bucks. And if you don't see the contracts or the amounts are not announced, they could just be for sake of appearances, or internet fodder.
      • Ask and Ye Shall Receive
        IZOD pays IndyCar about $6 million per year and spends another $5 million per year in marketing and promotion. The IZOD - IndyCar deal was worth around $60 million when it was signed in 2009. IZOD also has options for extensions that could push the deal through 2020, although due to executive level changes in that organization the thought is the deal could end at the conclusion of the contract in 2015. Source: Sports Business Journal. With regard to team sponsorships, the way it generally works is when primary sponsorship is not is too low to support a team, the team either folds or combines resources with another. Given the length of some of the legacy sponsors; e.g., Target, ABC Supply, Andretti's hoard, Verizon, etc., it is safe to determine sponsorship is adequate to support several full season teams. Now that I have patiently answered your quaint challenge, when will one of your group explain the revenues versus expenses in the $800 million taunt of which you are so gullible? Thanks in advance.
      • Thank You...
        Disciple, I would thank you for not lumping me in on that 800 million dollar claim. Please show me where I ever said they have lost that kind of money. My only point is until dollar figures are announced, be wary of what is behind these sponsorships. I do know a little bit about how sponsorships can be funny things money figure wise. A few years back there was some consternation that Andretti-Green Racing was low balling sponsorships to fill their cars and it was cutting the bottom out of the value of the sponsorships. Also, I never challenged you to anything. But, as usual, you do have to follow any others comments that don't meet your approval with your own spin. I think the other readers are fully capable of making their own decisions on all these articles without the guidance of your heavy hand. Let me speak for myself, I don't need to prove a dang thing to you. You'd think this was your blog or something.
      • 25/8
        When will the obsession lead to TV ratings above a Ron Popeil infomercial?
      • Attention to Detail
        Well, factually, every single IndyCar broadcast gets better ratings than any infomercial. A better question for the obsessed might be, in your esteemed opinions, what might constitute 'good' ratings. Also, a non-ADD focus on the actual topic might be a mature thing as well.
      • It is interesting that brett would mention infomercial since that was the only way the competing open wheel series that Chief and his buddies loved had their races aired.
      • Sponsorship of the Century
        OK, well maybe not. But the Century 21 deal for SFHR is significant. One of the more important deals in recent times. If it is worth, indeed, a half a mil, that is very impressive, especially given some of the deals that currently exist and have been done with teams in recent years. I don't know anything about the Andretti team devaluing or "low-balling" sponsorship deals, but I do know some of the deals have been quite small in comparsion to this Century 21 sponsorship, and that is in regard to primary sponsors. There was one purported to be be around just $50,000 awhile back. Also, some deals are more or less "hospitality"-oriented but a quick glance at the car woud suggest a big primary deal. And I have a friend who works for a company that turned down both WoO and then-IRL deals a few years ago because they didn't think the relatively small exposure justified the expense, even though the marketing officials there were said to be impressed with both series' team reps and liked the idea. It came down to a conservative, belt-tightening "no." Well, that happens all the time but it spoke to the low-ratings the IRL/IndyCar gets and the lack of mainstream exposure for WoO. And I believe that particular deal was well south of this SFHR sponsorship. I may be wrong, but I think it was in the low-hundreds for IndyCar. I have no idea what the WoO team was seeking. IndyCar has got to to whatever it takes to make this Century 21 deal go beyond Indy. Century 21 couldn't possibly ask for a better team owner in terms of sponsor-relations and they have a driver who, if he starts winning or finishing well, is a natural for representing the sponsor and series. Newgarden is the Hunter-Reay that never was in that regard.
      • 25/8
        I forgot to mention the Miller partnership with IMS* goes back to 1977 which is before the formation of the twice fired _TG's failed IRL* and the deal includes the Brickyard race and not just the former greatest spectacle in racing. Still trying to survive off the NASCAR teat. 8 whole days in May? LOL
      • Quality Sponsorships=GOOD Things
        So hang on a sec...the Miller partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway goes back to 1977? 36 years. Must be working. Heck, that even predates the mutiny. It also predates NASCAR at IMS by 17 years. So your quaint li'l 'teat' comment is more a sign of immaturity than reality. Speaking of lack of maturity what's with all the cute asterisks? Are you clumsily attempting some sort of point or do you merely have uncoordinated typing skills? I guess I started a trend with that word 'twice.' As an actual racing fan, I'm looking to be at IMS every day it's open, including my 49th 500.
      • 25/8
        Miller sold a hell of a lot more beer from 1979 to 1995 than they have since 1996. They had twenty some days every year during that period to sell adult beverages. Now they have 8. That's progress. Real race fans attend other events, place fans have 8 days in May at the little brick road to no where. And Poison.
      • 25/8
        Hydroxycut? Polo Water? You must be proud. LOL
      • Opening Weekend: Obsession Intact
        Well it is certainly no 'Jimmy' or full sponsorship by a primary color as it used to be during the halcyon days of the favo(u)red series of your gaggle...but it does pay the bills. Oh, and in addition to a long term re-up by Miller/Coors, Verizon just signed on for another two years. It appears the predicted demise will have to wait. You know, if I had the mental agility of a four year old I might try the tactics of the obsessed and make fun of your favorite series. Problem is, it no longer exists. Twice. So there is no point. Be thankful you have a series to chide, because it could be worse. LOL.
      • 25/8
        How'a that road to Indy looking? Lights starting 9 whole cars at St. Pete. that's right start and you get a top 10. Down from 16 last year. And Scar Mazda is starting 12, down from 22 last year. Isn't Mumbles Jr. running Lights? I guess the ICS* will just continue to get it's oval track heroes directly from USAC.
      • Meanwhile, Off To Another Topic...
        Salient facts to address the scattershot meandering of children: IndyCar-in business. Indy Lights-in business. Star Mazda-in business. cart-deceased. champcar-deceased. Enjoy the racing this weekend. I am certain you will be watching.
      • 25/8
        Atlantics deceased. IRL* deceased. Indy 500* ratings and prestige deceased all on the watch of your hero the twice fired (by his Mother) Anton George. I will enjoy Supercross tonight and F-1 DVR'ed in the morning, thanks for your concern.
      • Adult Behavior Tutorial
        When will your avoidance of this supposed plague extend to cessation of inane and obviously obsessive commentary about it?
      • 25/8
        Adult behavior? Like on your quaint little blog? LOL. It is possible that medication may combat your OCD like obsession with CART/CCWS, see your primary care physician.
      • Thanks for The Blog Plug
        Some individuals, particularly those not blessed with even minimal reading comprehension skills, tend to read what suits their own tunneled prejudices instead of understanding salient points. They also tend to veer off course. Who would have believed at this point the actual topic of this thread was Sarah Fisher's new Indy 500 sponsor?
      • 25/8
        Back on topic, I bet Century 21 is real excited about that .36 from St. Pete. I'll wait for the breakouts to see if key metrics in targeted demographics are up. Anyone have them?
      • Numbers Are Up
        Yes. On or about Thursday. And actual professionals engaged in the commerce of television ad sales will target demographic groups, generate proposals to reach them, then buy advertising based on the demographic targets priced using algorithms a bit more complex than snide remarks about 12+ overnight estimates from simplistic thinking yet obsessed internet dwellers. Any chance I can steer you back around toward answering a question I posed in my 'Adult Behavior' post above, or are you going to pinball off to some other obtuse topic?
      • 25/8
        A rather boring Cup race (save for the last lap) at Fontana pulls a 4.5 and 338k tune in for the ICS* heroes? LOL. I hope the Hydroxycut execs had their socks firmly secured. Oh, and when you are named moderator you can start asking the questions, K, Sparky?
      • Dose of Reality
        Helpful hints for the myopically addled: NASCAR was on a national OTA network. IndyCar was on a cable network, where it's ratings rose. It might also surprise your kind to learn that IndyCar ratings for its original airing were better than all airings of the same F-1 race combined. Professionals engaged in the actual commerce of television ad sales tend to think and act differently than obsessed kids on the internet living and breathing 12+ overnights on the internet, most of whom tend to be objects of ridicule based on their ignorance of reality.
      • 25/8
        The lackluster race at Fontana had better ratings than last years Indy 500*, as do most Cup races. Why have so many tuned out the 500* and ICS* races? No major network is interested in the ICS* that why they are buried on the former Outdoor Life Network. When shall we expect an upturn in sponsorship based on the stellar breakouts? Why does the ICS* CEO and 3 time 500* champ say ratings need to grow? LOL Tiny.
      • Bears Repeating
        Apologies in advance for industry-specific jargon about to be used, and I understand that for an average kindergarten-level mind taunting over 12+ overnights may seem important. But kid, you need to march into some national ad agency or cable network and pick their brains about what is really important. Take an average campaign and pay attention to not only the numbers, but the mix. Consider the IMPs, GRP, VPVH, primary and secondary demo targets, and CPM. Apply required and standard algorithms to find the sweet spot. Figure the right number of equivalized :30s and a corresponding rate. You will need to completely ignore 12+ overnights as every agency and broadcaster does and focus in on the actual numbers used in such commerce. I continue to find it hilarious that the children remain so focused on IndyCar 12+ overnights only, then spout off as if IndyCar is alone at that level of 12+ overnights. When you make this visit be sure to examine the overwhelming majority of programming offerings on cable. You would be surprised at the number of recognizable programming that would desire the 12+ overnights IndyCar has. Obviously you have a lot to learn, but frankly you seem both unwilling and incapable. Your loss. The reality is the obsessed panic of the stalkers is unwarranted and displays a colossal lack of knowledge on the topic.
      • 25/8
        Here are some facts, the Kentucky Derby, Daytona 500, Masters, Superbowl, Final Four and other major sporting events have NOT suffered 75% decline in TV ratings in the last 17 years. The Superbowl is not on Lifetime. I don't tune in to BET to see the Derby. The only major sporting event who has declined that much over the same period is the Indy 500* and it is not even close. You can spout off all the key metrics and breakouts you want and NO one other than your brother and a few zealots at Trackforum believe it because the actual sponsors don't lie. Hydroxycut, Midas, and a non existent title sponsor, Izod. Not exactly blue chip. LOL
      • Woe R Us LOL
        But alive and kickin' nonetheless, along with obviously obsessed fans like you. And here's a news flash: The 500 hasn't ever been a ratings blockbuster relative to cherry picked straw men, particularly for more than a generation. The ratings it does get, however, are considered by industry professionals to be what is typically referred to as 'strong.' Thanks for continuing to watch and pay attention.
      • 25/8
        It's a shame that geriatric place fans stuck in 1959 continue to bury their collective heads in the sands and laps up whatever leftovers the dysfunctional Hulman George family gives them. The rest of us feel it is a travesty that the former greatest spectacle in racing has a lower rating than the spring Cup race at Bristol. Strong ratings? That explains the mass exodus of sponsors, manufacturers, and fans. LOL.
      • 25/8
        From the Toronto Sun, ICS* sure doesn't pay it drivers anything for having such "strong ratings", I guess they also didn't carry over to Canada, LOL. It was a great day for Canadian motorsports fans when Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe won the IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Even better that, the event was broadcast live on Sportsnet across the country. But — and there is always a but when it comes to IndyCar — open wheel racing on this continent has an image problem. It suffers from the same disease as the Canadian Football League when it goes head-to-head with the National Football League. The NFL is seen as big-league, the CFL as minor-league. It is exactly what IndyCar faces when it goes up against NASCAR. On Sunday, Sportsnet’s premiere telecast of IndyCar racing with an excellent on-air cast featuring Rob Faulds, Bill Adams and 2003 Champ Car World Series champion Paul Tracy, drew 90,000 viewers. While that might seem a reasonable number, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 drew 350,000 viewers on TSN the same afternoon. A day earlier, the NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 300 had 156,000 viewers, almost twice as many as watched the IndyCar event. Even the Formula 1 race that was shown live in the wee hours of Sunday morning outdrew IndyCar with 94,000 viewers. A huge part of that stems from the fact most fans view success in professional sports by the amount of money the athletes earn. There is a reason why an NFL player can earn several million dollars a season while his CFL counterpart — even the highest-paid — is in the lower six figures. On Sunday, Hinchcliffe’s efforts at St. Petersburg earned him $35,000 (U.S.) while Kyle Busch collected $334,233 for his win at Fontana. Even last-place finisher Mike Bliss got a cheque for $59,810. Heck, the same Busch earned $74,525 one day earlier, winning in NASCAR’s second division. There is nothing wrong with the racing in IndyCar — Sunday’s race was spectacular. But if it wants to be considered big league and attract big-league audiences, IndyCar is going to have to open up the vault and start acting like a big league.

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