Verizon promising to go faster, farther than previous IndyCar title sponsors

March 14, 2014
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IndyCar Series honchos on Friday made it official that Verizon Wireless will be the series’ new title sponsor. The series will now be known as the Verizon IndyCar Series.

IBJ first reported the news March 7.

IndyCar has been down this bumpy road before, but those close to this deal say Verizon is far different from the open-wheel series’ prior three title sponsors.

Pep Boys and Internet search engine Northern Light both had financial problems. Pep Boys also had a serious lack of commitment in the latter stages of its relationship with the series.

While Izod started off hot with all kinds of splashy ads and in-store promotions, the energy behind the deal faded after a management change within the company.

There will be no such problems with Verizon, said Zak Brown, founder of Zionsville-based Just Marketing International, which represents Verizon.

“Verizon is one of the best, biggest companies in the world, and they’re committed to IndyCar at every level of the company,” Brown said. “They’re already in the sport with Penske Racing, and they know what they’re getting into. They’re all in.”

Here’s a very important element of the deal that wasn’t highlighted in today's press release. There’s virtually no opt-out clause. Izod wiggled out of its deal after the IndyCar Series slipped below minimum thresholds, namely that the series held fewer races than promised.

The Verizon deal is for five years—with an option for a five-year extension. Verizon will pay the series $5 million in cash and another $5 million in marketing and promoting the series.

Important to note, that $5 million in marketing won’t just be used for preaching to the choir. In addition to running ads during IndyCar radio and television broadcasts and running promotions at the races, the wireless communications company also is promising to run promotions in its—and other—retail outlets.

The IndyCar Series has had precious few sponsors that have truly taken the open-wheel series to the masses the way NASCAR sponsors have done for that series. Izod started to, but fizzled after two years.

“Verizon is in this for the long haul,” Brown said. “You’re going to start seeing their activation and promotions by the season opener in St. Petersburg and it’s only going to grow from there.”

As important as the mass promotions is Verizon’s commitment to help the series improve its app, social media and other technological fan engagement and outreach efforts.

So why is a company with so much going for it interested in IndyCar, which has struggled with low TV ratings and stagnant live attendance?

“The IndyCar Series is a good platform for Verizon to showcase its technology,” Brown said. “IndyCar fans are a good consumer base for the company. They tend to be technologically engaged. With the size of Roger Penske’s company and other businesses engaged in IndyCar, the business-to-business element has also been very good for them. Overall, their involvement in the series has been very good for them.”

So when Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles approached Verizon officials about a title sponsorship deal last year, Brown said “they were ready to listen.”

Miles' involvement in the series was another factor in snagging Verizon as title sponsor. Miles became Hulman & Co. CEO 15 months ago, and Verizon officials are confident he can grow the IndyCar Series, said sources close to Verizon.

Verizon has been an official category sponsor of IndyCar the past four years and the primary sponsor of the No. 12 Team Penske car driven by Will Power. The relationship with the team owned by Roger Penske will expand for the 2014 season as Verizon also will be the primary sponsor of the No. 2 entry driven by 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya for at least eight races.

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  • Fantastic in every way
    This is a fantastic deal for IndyCar across the board. A sponsor with a wireless platform that reaches into millions and millions of homes across the globe and a long-term commitment to the sport. What a perfect way to start the 2014 season!
  • Congratulations
    I don't know how they did it but that $5M in cash and the $5M in marketing should elevate this IRL series to the stratosphere!!! Sky's the limit! Good job Mark Miles, and thanks Anthony for the great reporting. We now know why iZod left...bwahahhahaha!
    • Verizon IndyCar Series - Nice Ring To It
      Great job to all involved. IndyCar now has a blue chip title sponsor and should find out what effective marketing looks like now. The brand has officially been elevated. Not bad for a series condemned as near death over the past decade and a half by the naysayers. It appears they will have to wait another five or ten years now.
    • Chump Change
      Any sort of money (especially with so many sponsors who have bailed on the ICS in the past year) is good, but this isn't that big of a deal. 5 million bucks per year to series? Yippee! That's only 1/2 as much as Nationwide pays NASCAR in their AAA racing series. Pretty much tells you the level most see the Indy Car Series is at...its minor league.
    • laughable
      “The IndyCar Series is a good platform for Verizon to showcase its technology,” Brown said. “IndyCar fans are a good consumer base for the company." ______________________ Really? They tend to be white guys from Indiana and generally >50 YO. That's a small base. ------- As for money, rumor has it that the league is coming up short 4million per year from the isod deal. That's some good business they done got going there at hulmancar headquarters. :lol: -------------------Like I said before, this aint gonna amount to jack. Just like isod didn't amount to jack.
    • Like Moths To A Flame
      The only consistent part of this sort of comment section is that it draws a handful of the most willfully ignorant children in the entire world. Only such Einsteins can foolishly attempt to spin 10-12 million of cash and marketing annually in partnership with one of the most admired blue chip companies in the world into something negative. Amazing. It is a very nice transition from IZOD (laughing because some of the mental giants can't even spell it), who fulfilled the terms of their deal and left the original executives who penned it very pleased. And part of the effort for Verizon is expanding the demographic reach. Anyone attempting to position this as somehow bad should exit the relative isolation of mom's basement and attempt to be minimally functional in society. In any event, I am sure IndyCar and Verizon appreciate all forms of obsessed fandom, even that of children.
    • good for Indy
      The partnership with Verizon, the new aerokits being developed by Honda and Chevy for 2015, the revamped "Month of May" with the addition of a road race at IMS, the technical improvements to the Speedway, along with more exposure on television, all add up to a continued revitalization of Indycar and the 500. These are all signs of stability and future success for the series and IMS and is ultimately good for the city of Indianapolis. I'm sure it's disappointing to those embittered and vocal few who predict Indycar's demise on a weekly basis.
    • My socks are still on
      Nothing but a B2B "sponsorship". No real cash involved and more of a technology partner than anything. The mouth breathers at 16th and Jonestown will find a way to get Verizon to leave the contract early, just like Izod. This will do nothing to help the lowest TV ratings in motor sports and the lowest numbers,declining attendance and interest in the former greatest spectacle in racing.
    • Of course IZOD was happy
      They withdrew because the hapless IRL series couldn't maintain their end of the bargain. In fact, starting with the second year of the 'Race to the Show" they started stopping fulfilling the contract. So yes, IZOD, was happy they had outclauses so they could dump the hapless IRL series. Quit trying to mislead people Dipscicle, the real adult you are.
    • LOL
      Wrong again, kid. Fact 1: IZOD fulfilled all their financial obligations as dictated by the contract. Their marketing shift to sports like golf had no impact on their IndyCar spend during the contract period. Fact 2: The ONLY reason the deal ended was the result of a C-level change at PVH. Mike Kelly, EVP of Marketing at PVH is still there, and can vouch for IZOD satisfaction. As a racing fan I sincerely thank them for their involvement and wish them well with more tame marketing choices. Most important, I am very happy Verizon stepped up their involvement, something they have been doing every year for the past four. Obviously they see a lot more than Internet trolls do, and for that I am both excited, optimistic and can't wait to appear at St. Pete to kick off the new season.
    • Its not called the IRL anymore
      Hey Chief, I hope I am not the one to break this to you but...... its not called the Indy Racing League anymore and hasn't been for some time now. Do you call it that because it- "IndyCar" is still owned by the Hulman family and that is your way of showing everyone you are all old school and have been following the series since 1997? What you are really doing is showing your ignorance by referring to the IndyCar series as the IRL. Time to, get with the times.
    • The Big Chief
      It's 1988, CART (Indycar) is the biggest racing series in the world or at least on the verge of it, and Chief is still a miserable curmudgeon. Indycar's real victory, in my eyes, is keeping him miserable for this long hahaha! Kudos to the series because even someone who can't stand it follows it just as close as those who love it. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
    • IRL, LLC
      It's the Indy Racing League, LLC doing business as 'Indy Car'. Wanna bet me? Here's a tip...John Barnes lawsuit against the IRL was just filed a few days ago with the IRL listed this way. Geez, I congratulated the IRL and Verizon and merely pointed out what Anthony wrote above in the article about IZOD. Now I'm a miserable curmudgeon. LOL deflect away from facts again, tsk tsk. I don't dispute IZOD changed sports because of management changes. I only shine light on the failure of the IRL to maintain it's part of the contract which caused IZOD to back off and eventually opt-out. Those are facts that can not be disputed. It's just business (as usual) for the 16th and Jonestown clan.
    • Quit the Negativity
      I am beyond sick and tired of people not having a single positive thing to say about the series. It's the people like you who are hurting Indycar
    • Quit the h/g clan
      Because a couple people posting their opinions on an obscure "sport", on an obscure interweb blog, have ZERO effect on the popularity of their .1rl clown car league. It's the h/g clan who have and continue to run AOWR into the ground. Oh, and d and the rest of the koolaid drinkers too.
    • Moi?
      Whoa fella, IMS is hurting IndyCar, not me. If I had that much power I'd dump the TV contract, the DW12, 6cylnder engines and ethanol, the May road course event and reinstate the real 500 qualifying rules. And fire Brian Barnhart. POOF! See, I have no control...they do what ever they want to. How does that opinion hurt the sport?
    • Turbo
      Turbo is out on Netflix. When a Snail can compete you know it's fun racing! Seriously, watch the movie. Great excitement and entertainment...just like IndyCar!
    • Too little, too late...
      Burl here, back from an enjoyable 10 days in Tahiti. Sure as I return to a racing league that is virtually non-existent with the general public. Neither there, nor here, nor anywhere, is this sport on radar screens. This sport has disappeared alike a Malaysia Airlines 777, gone, poof, without a trace. Not even the addition of Verizon as a Sort-Of-Title Sponsor made news. Anywhere. Well, anywhere but where a hardcore IndyCar racign fan would look. So Verizon at least will get some ROI, hopefully, from the 250,000 or so of those in the USA. Beyond that, this sport has ZERO interest with the resy of the mroe than 300 million Americans. And Negantive Zero interest outside the States, except perhaps down in Brazil and maybe Colombia for a minute thirty-two. Guys like Disciple, Zoomie, and the rest of the Whackforum crowd are consumed with the remnants of this once-proud sport so they suffer from the delusion that the rest of the nation and in regions of the World, this Indy Car sport is a big 'ol deal. Newsflash: Most people, randomly polled, have never heard of it. They may know the phrase "Indy 500", but most cannot tell you when it is and many think it is a NASCAR race. A British tourist I met in Tahiti said he knew the Indy 500 was "still going" but couldn't name a single, not a single driver beside Dario and the dead Wheldon. Justin Wilson? Never heard of him. Kurt Busch. Nah. Who won Indy last year? I dunno. And he is a Jaguar dealership owner! Back on USA terra firma, in L.A. yesterday, asked a guy working at the hotel near LAX when the Long Beach Grand Prix is. "I don't know. Isn't that a Formula One race or something with celebrities." Bwwwwaaahhaaaaa!!!! Meanwhile, back the at H-G Ranch, the number of tickets still available for the 2014 Indianapolis 500 is astounding and nearly the same as before I left. All indicators are to an Indianapolis 500 Mile Race with maybe 25,000 to 30,000 empties. They'll need a miracle. The Greatest Specacle in Racing. Bbbbwwwwwwaahhaaaaaa!!! Hey Disciple, check out how many seats you can get along Pit Road! Bbbwwwwwaaahaaa!!!! My prediction: The 2014 Indy 500 is the lowest TV-rated in history with a shokcing decline in attendance. Plenty of glistening aluminum to shine in the Indiana sun.
    • The Missing Verizon
      Literally I saw dozens of Verizon commercials last nite during college basketball on TRU, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNOcho, BUT not one mention of IRL, IndyCar or the late Indy 500! I'm also hearing the re-branding of the IRL website is not progressing well with the change to Verizon. Also, not one mention of any of this on Verizon's websites. More missed advertising opportunities missed by the hapless at 16th and Jonestown. This Verizon sponsorship paying off already! WOOOt! Bwahahaha...what's happening?
    • The Old Men Will Save The Day
      Verizon probably signed on because they are excited about JV, Robby Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and maybe even Buddy Lazier in the race. The lineup reflects the age of the fan base. So why not? Why did they not think to contact Morgan Shepherd and James Hylton? I
    • Buddy RIce
      How come all the exCart guys can get a ride yet guys like Buddy Rice, Greg Ray, Conor Daly and Sage Karam are at the clubhouse door begging to get in? I thought the IRL was supposed to fix all this? IRL is still here, those guys are not. Boogles the mind. Maybe the influx of HUGE ca$h from Verizions will put a coiled snake back in the 500.
    • It was IMS
      I just heard from Robin's mailbag at RACER that the Villeneuve signing for the 500 was orchestrated by IMS' own Mark Miles!!! Mark can't get IRL bred drivers in a car, but he can get ex CARTers. IMS is so focused on creating a spectacle to cover up the junk the race has turned into. Also heard a Bradenton, Florida promotion featuring IndyCars on the streets for the promotion of the St. Pete season opener went flat last night as IndyCar teams backed out at last minute. Bwahahahahaha! This is how the IRL treats their fans....great work Mark Miles!!!
    • 100 million
      minus 95. Oh. Carl Haas could sell a sticker on one of his tubs for that much. The IRL - Worth less than last year.
    • No Conor
      Without the Daly boy in the race, I don't see how Hoosiers can give two spits. A home-grown Indiana boy with a well-known Dad who raced there, cannot get a ride, but an old 40-something has-been who hated the 500 in the first place can. Go figure. It goes to show you how poor IMS manangement is, choosing someone who was unpopular with race fans at Indy over a young talent the few fans the sport has left are interested in seeing develop. Nice move, Walker and Miles. Nice move.
    • It's the CART fans who had money
      Burl, inside the mindset of the Humpty Dumpty rebuilding revisionists at 16th and Jonestown priority #1 is to get CART fans back while acting like nothing happened. Young whippersnappers like Conor and Sage along with homegrown IRL Indy lites champeens etc were duped all along. There is no road to Indy...except for exCART drivers who sponsors apparently like. BWahahhahahaha! Must be tough digging a hole for yourself and then realize you can't get out! Kepp digging IRLer's, keep digging!
    • Hay Burl
      how long do you think it will take for the few remaining IRL fans to become disappointed by the outcome of this news. The league of disappointment. Every hope dashed. Always. What do you expect from a league that was designed to destroy the sport. The only thing it has been successful in doing.
    • shortest season since 1996
      i read in the canadian globe today how this season is the shortest since the three race 1996 season, and second shortest since 1957, ending before labor day. verizon has to promote less too, apparently. will this thing even register in the minds of the public?
    • Verizon IRL Series Scores 0.6 on ABC
      That's right IRL fans...a measly 0.6 on national television for the season opener. NASCAR's Martinsville scored a 3.8...0.4 HIGHER than the 2013 Indy 500 (3.4). Things are looking promising...BWAHAHHAHAA! $105M for nothing and still not ADA compliant!!!

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