On the heels of signing Cafes do Brasil and Sunoco Inc. to sponsorship deals, Indy Racing League officials say they plan to make their biggest sponsor announcement of 2010 within two weeks.
“It will be a category-exclusive deal with mega activation,” said Terry Angstadt, president of IRL’s commercial division. “It will rival the [promotion] done by our series title sponsor, Izod. So it’s very exciting.”
Angstadt said he couldn’t say what category the new sponsor will fill because “that would give away who it is.” He expects the as-yet-announced sponsor to be at full speed with the open-wheel race series for the 2011 season.
Rivaling the marketing muscle of Izod would be impressive, sports marketers said.
“Izod has been extremely active in taking the IndyCar brand to the mainstream public,” said Zak Brown, president of Just Marketing International, a Zionsville-based motorsports marketing consultancy. “They’ve put millions of dollars into marketing IndyCar, which is just what the series needs.”
Izod has been active with billboards, television and print advertising as well as point-of-sale promotions at retail stores across the country and at IRL races since being named the open-wheel series title sponsor in 2009.
“I’ve not heard anything about an impending deal myself, but if it's on par with Izod, that’s certainly good news, especially in this economic environment,” Brown said.
Cafes do Brasil, a Brazilian coffee maker, signed on recently as the title sponsor of the series’ Oct. 2 season-ending race in Miami.
Financial terms of the Cafes do Brasil deal were not released, but sources close to the league said it is a one-year agreement worth about $500,000. Angstadt is hopeful the relationship will expand next year.
“This is the last year for the race in Miami, so obviously they won’t be involved there, but we think they’ll be involved in other ways,” Angstadt said. “They’ve been very aggressive in marketing and activating their sponsorship in Miami.”
As part of the deal, the IRL has named its season-ending race the Cafes do Brasil 300. The Brazilian company will also get signage and a race-day hospitality package, which includes 2,500 grandstand tickets. The sponsorship is one of the first significant partnerships signed by Cafes do Brasil as it looks to raise its profile in the U.S., company officials said.
The deal is an is an outgrowth of the series’ deal with Apex-Brasil, an agency funded by the Brazilian government that represents 72 business sectors, including Brazil’s ethanol producers and coffee manufacturers.
As U.S. corporations continue to hold the line on marketing budgets, the IRL may continue to look outside the country for sponsors. NASCAR has fewer such options, Angstadt said.
“It’s a huge advantage we have over our friends to the south,” Angstadt said. “While we’re based here in the U.S. and our crown jewel race is in Indianapolis, with our international reach and our international base of drivers, that’s a good competitive advantage we have.”
Earlier this season, Sunoco signed a multi-year partnership to be the official fuel retailer and convenience store of the IRL, and its feeder series, Firestone Indy Lights.
Through its ethanol manufacturing facility in Fulton, N.Y., Sunoco will supply 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol to the series beginning in 2011 in partnership with UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association.