Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League, Penske Racing
December 6, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's IZOD IndyCar Series conference call. We have three guests joining us today based on an announcement that was made earlier today by Team Penske.
We're joined by Mike Kelly, Vice President of Marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen; Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing; and Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 6 car for Team Penske.
Mike, there was an announcement earlier today. But we'll turn the floor over to you.
MIKE KELLY: Welcome, everybody. Thanks for giving us your time. We're extremely excited to announce a sponsorship agreement relationship between the IZOD brand and Team Penske. We couldn't be more excited to see these two great corporations come together and to the 2011 season which will be a sponsorship of all three drivers and all three cars with a special relationship with Ryan Briscoe, for several races for the season, including especially the Indy 500, I should say the Centennial running of the Indy 500, and the championship race for sure, and some other major markets together.
But it's really a coming together of two great corporations, best of class, we think, between our relative industries and the extended relationships that we bring to each other, us and the apparel and retail world, wholesale and retail world, the relationships we bring by association to Team Penske, and of course the great relationships that Roger and Tim have built in their corporation, and Bud, with Verizon and Shell and the other great sponsors that are part of the team.
So we're very excited about the announcement, the possibilities, and we believe this title sponsor, the association and the power, the power, the combined power, enhanced power between the two corporations, will do great things for the league and for the sport and the reach of the sport at large, especially in the Centennial year.
And that's the announcement we have today.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, it's the third sponsor announcement you've had in the last week. Talk about bringing another big sponsor to your team in this economy and obviously securing Ryan for 2011.
TIM CINDRIC: We couldn't be more excited to have the week that we've had with the Shell-Pennzoil announcement with Helio and continuing to build on Will's program with Verizon and then obviously the Meyer association and now the IZOD one.
I think 2011, we continue to build toward that and to have Ryan flying the colors for the IZOD brand and what that represents, not only in the marketplace, but also within the series. And everything that Mike and his group and Alan and these guys have brought to IndyCar racing in general, in conjunction with Randy's leadership, I think that going into the Centennial year and everything we have to offer in terms of our on track and Roger's legacy, I think we'll just continue to build.
But I think the one thing that I see a lot of synergies with these announcements in not only what happens on track but what happens off track, and I think that just continues to show the strength of what Roger's built on and off the track.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, talk a little bit about returning to Team Penske and representing the IZOD brand which we learned this year has a lot of passion for the sport.
RYAN BRISCOE: I'll tell you, it's an amazing feeling to be representing IZOD in 2011. Just a great feeling to be coming back with Team Penske. IZOD's an amazing brand. They have such passion for the series and are really taking the IndyCar Series to a new level.
And it really is a great feeling to be a part of that. I want to help with that momentum. I'm really fired up for next year. I feel really good going into a new phase and with a whole lot of drive and determination. I'm really fired up to have a good year. And especially flying the IZOD colors, at the Indy 500, the Centennial race, I feel like it's my time and I just can't wait for the new year to come around.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, can you talk a little bit about how this whole relationship with Team Penske transpired?
MIKE KELLY: There's a couple of things. It's funny, when it's right, it's right. You see it through a lot of lenses.
In the off season, I should say off season racing and football season for us and for other brands in the corporation, we find ourselves building a close relationship with Verizon right over the state line and in New Jersey, and we knew that Verizon was obviously a major sponsor with Roger and the team. And then we were reaching out for the drivers within the league and the Penske drivers to be part of commercial advertising that we're developing right now, production that we're putting together.
And we find ourselves just kind of sharing more time together and realizing that the Centennial is so important to the 500, that we wanted a presence. I guess we felt it was really important to have a presence in that race, such a great moment of history. To not be part of that and not be part of the season at the end of the season, of the Centennial year, it would just be a missed opportunity for the brand.
So I think there's a combination of seeing all those relationships. There's good people together. And, again, just being involved with these kind of best-of-class corporations. We said this is where there should be and seems could be some really good marketing-to-marketing opportunities, and leveraging out with a motor sport group like Penske, their performance, their abilities, and then communications company like Verizon that has the kind of global reach that we're obtaining as we move into Europe and into China, other areas, and then folks like their other sponsors like Shell and others that also have kind of a global presence of distribution.
So it just felt right. And in the last few weeks, I guess month or so, it just seemed like the right thing to do.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Looks we do have quite a bit of media on today's call. We'll open up for questions for any of our guests.
Q. Congratulations, everybody. Mike, question for you. What kind of differences or additions might we see this year in terms of how IZOD activates their partnership not only with the league but obviously with Team Penske as well, a little more or a little less of the race, of the party theme, or something new altogether?
MIKE KELLY: A variation of the thing, we continue to reach out to pop culture. You'll see more of the same, but you're going to see more. As we have in the last two or three years, we built our program each year. This year we will be doing more. There's no question. We are investing more around Centennial.
I think you're going to hear -- I won't give it all away today, but you'll hear about special programming that's happening over that month and that week that I think will give us a lot of global reach of message. Some of the other sponsors are really stepping up in terms of their activation.
And then I think we're creating a better catalyst. I think the petri dish of communication and planning, it's just so much better this year, with some of the other major sponsors. Honda. HP. Mattel, Verizon other bigger players in the sport. The lines are open. We're having great communications.
So I think you'll see more of the same. I think better creative, involving some other areas like music with folks like Weezer and others that we're just shooting actually tomorrow. I'm in the desert. We're getting ready -- cars are coming into the desert. We've got F-15s, I guess, or 18s doing fly-bys. We've got Weezer being part of the cool stuff that's coming.
Q. Mike, without IZOD's help, obviously Ryan Hunter-Reay couldn't have been on track for the whole season last year. Long Beach has been with you guys a few years. Will you still have a relationship with him at all, and is it just a matter of not so much he didn't -- he certainly performed well last year, but just a chance to get with Penske?
MIKE KELLY: There's no question. I think you know our relationship with Ryan Hunter-Reay is real. We think the best of him. He's clearly one of the best, if not the best, American driver on the track today. And it was exciting to be part of what he was in helping him secure a place with Andretti and show his stuff. There's no question he's a contender out on the track.
There was really a bigger business opportunity with Roger's team in the marketing-to-marketing. I think the greater extension to the sport in getting our message out with the broader relationships, as I say, that Roger brings.
And we certainly wish the best for Ryan. It's hard when you're on the track, you want to see your guy win, there's no question. But we know how important he is and the Andretti team to the whole of the sport when we have our title hat on.
Q. Can we assume this is a -- this is for Cindric -- multi-year contract for Ryan?
TIM CINDRIC: Sorry?
Q. Multi-year contract for Briscoe?
TIM CINDRIC: You're always asking contract questions. We love to see Ryan drive for the foreseeable future. You always ask me the same contract question and I always give you the same answer.
Q. I was hoping for a different answer this time.
TIM CINDRIC: You know the number to call.
Q. You've had a couple of chances -- I know this doesn't involve a driver that's on the teleconference today. You've had a couple of opportunities to talk about your NASCAR driver who used to win the Indy 500. It's seemed kind of a little bit out there whether or not he has an invitation to run the Indy 500, do you think he'll run the Indy 500?
TIM CINDRIC: He's always had an open invitation to run the Indy 500 with us. Nothing's changed. I think what's changed is the fact we haven't been able to secure a full-time Cup ride for him. And that makes things a bit more obvious. But he's always had an open invitation with us to run Indy.
Q. Question for Tim Cindric. Tim, you have three or four pretty diverse sponsors here. How do you explain the way you guys have gone out and kind of like sold your program now since the, not divorce, but having split with your previous big-time sponsor? Has it been a real chore for you guys? Has it opened up even more avenues for you guys? Kind of explain the whole process of getting into three, four really diverse sponsors now?
TIM CINDRIC: We've had to sharpen our pencils and put our salesmen hats on. I think as we look at -- when we put all of our programs together down here in North Carolina, one thing we knew we had to focus on was our overall marketing approach. And it's obviously evolved in the relationships. And we've had to look at things more from an overall perspective rather than just a racing perspective. Because I think the days of just having a billboard running around a racetrack, those days are over. And I think everybody's seen that with the economy and that type of thing.
We've had to approach things from a leverage point of view and not only on the racetrack in terms of our competitiveness and what we have to offer them at the racetracks or at the venues. But we've also had to look at where we think there's a win-win situation in the business world. And that win-win might not always be within the Penske corporation, but it might be how we service the various partnerships for B-to-B relationships.
And we've had to make sure that it's not just talk, but we've had to be sure that we can show results and show numbers. And I think that's what we've been able to do with Shell and with Verizon and IZOD. And the list continues. I think Bud Denker and Jonathan Gibson on our marketing teams have really done a great job putting those together. But independent of them, we've had to put people within their groups that then service those accounts.
And when we're able to do that across IndyCar, Nationwide, Cup, and at one point in time sports cars, we have some pretty diverse associations that we feel like separate us from who our competitors are there, because we can play one brand in the NASCAR world one weekend and then look at where their marketplace or where they want to be within the IndyCar world. And I think you'll continue to see that grow with us.
Q. Ryan, explain the -- I don't know -- the satisfaction or the relief you get when a deal comes together, so to speak. Because you almost all operate on one or two or three-year kind of continuing basis, what have you done for me lately. But what did this mean for you over the winter and Christmas, et cetera? You've got a deal for -- I forgot how many years Tim said it was four but maybe you can enlighten us.
RYAN BRISCOE: It's huge. And just to be associated with Team Penske is an amazing feeling. I mean, ever since I came to the team back in 2007, you really feel like you've reached the pinnacle. They're the best. And no driver would want to be anywhere else.
And to be able to keep this relationship going, for me it's so important. Getting these announcements coming out, having so much momentum with the team and the sponsors coming on board it's really keeping everyone fired up on the team. Especially myself. But all the engineers, all the mechanics, everyone's really excited about next year.
We just missed out on the championship this year, but we don't want to let another one slip by. And I just can't wait. I'm just so excited for many reasons. And the first to be back with Team Penske with this opportunity and then now to be carrying the IZOD brand, it's just huge.
Q. The IZOD sponsorship for the full season for each -- will it be on all three cars?
MIKE KELLY: It's several races. It's primary on Ryan, the No. 6 car, for several races. And it's for the full season as an associate on all three cars.
Q. Can you announce which races you'll be at?
MIKE KELLY: As we said, it's the 500 for sure and the championship race. And then we're looking at major markets right now and not really ready to say yet but we're looking at the major market races.
Q. How many races would that be, then, over the course of the year?
MIKE KELLY: It's two with more to come.
Q. Tim, obviously Team Penske has a tremendous track record of success, great numbers over many years. But there's also the power of the Penske corporation and the global reach that the company has in many, many different industries. Can you comment on how much that aspect of things has played a role in these sponsorship deals you've been able to put together?
TIM CINDRIC: Without a doubt it's played a huge part. You like to think it's all because of your racing success. But the marketing groups, they have to be able to deliver return on investment. And right now it becomes more and more difficult to look at programs like racing or sponsorships in general of any kind and say how does that actually affect my brand.
And with the Penske world, we're able to actually return numbers that show sales that show new business, that show added value in addition to what the IndyCar programs or the NASCAR programs or what have you bring to the overall, whether it be -- everybody uses it differently. Some guys use it to sell -- obviously to sell their products. And others use it for internal motivation, awareness, that type of thing. We zero in on what the overall end game is and try to figure out how to deliver that.
So without a doubt it's always been something that Roger's built his businesses based on his reputation in racing. When you look at his businesses, they're all relative to the transportation industry. And with those, obviously there's a lot of added synergies in that, and I think our guys continue to hone the art of putting sponsors together with each other to do business. And that's a big part of it as well, independent of the Penske world.
Q. Could you also comment on Roger's involvement himself in either closing the deal or opening the doors to make these things happen?
TIM CINDRIC: He's always been the one that's always the visionary. He's the guy you want to bring in the ninth inning for sure. He's a great closer. And sometimes he thinks outside of the box beyond maybe where our head's at and has a different idea and a different reach for how to get there. But he's certainly the guy that knows all the pieces that go into the puzzle. But he also realizes that no partnership lasts very long without it being a win-win across the board.
You look at our associations with Phillip Morris over the years and Exxon Mobil and Hugo Boss, all these programs there's always an end to something. But when you look at our average years, our average sponsor is 15 years. That's really unheard of in terms of the motor sport industry.
Q. Do you think that Michael Andretti feels like you're picking on him, Meyer one week and IZOD the next?
TIM CINDRIC: That could be the perception, but that's certainly not the intent from our end.
Q. When we talked to Mike about this, Ralph Hansen used to say when you walk into a boardroom with Paul Newman, it makes the sale a lot easier. Have you been involved in these negotiations lately when RP walks in and just to embellish to add to what Gordon's question was about what he brings when he comes into the room as far as just his presence and his ideas?
TIM CINDRIC: He's obviously respected in the industry of racing but also in what I call the real world. And he's certainly somebody that for me he and I try not to be the same place too often aside from the racetrack. Because he has a day job and I'm supposed to get it to a certain I guess place on the field and there's a time to utilize his time and a time to let the rest of us play. And I think really our marketing group has continued to execute to find out where the potentials are, and then we try and figure out how we can actually put together a relationship. So no doubt he's the best closer in the business, no matter whether you're in racing or sitting in the boardroom.
Q. This is for Mike Kelly. I don't know if this question's already been asked or not. But as far as getting involved with a team that has a stature of Team Penske, it is the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, and I know a lot of what you try to reach out is a connection to the past along as with sports future. And how it comes to that one race you can't do it any better than with Roger Penske?
MIKE KELLY: I'm not sure if that's a question but, yeah, of course, there's no question. Listen, let me make it clear. Three years ago when we got involved in the sport the farthest thing -- we've always said we're here learning, learning, learning. We like to learn. We've learned a few things the last few years but one of the things we've learned is that Roger wins.
And we also know that that's not easy. You just don't show up to win. To beat the competition, I don't you the perform the competition and develop the kind of long-term record that not just as Tim said, not just on the track but off the track, that shows all kinds of levels of character, of commitment, of what it takes to build a big corporation. We see the same thing ourselves it is hard to outperform the competition, just deliver, deliver, whether it be to Wall Street or to your consumers and your partners.
So, yeah, I mean, three years ago in our wildest dreams we wouldn't have seen ourselves in this kind of announcement or relationship and to be more involved and deeper involved in the sport and to be able to capitalize on this opportunity. Because that's really what it is. They weren't looking for these kinds of relationships a few years ago.
And we didn't know the better two. So I mean it's really an opportunity in time. I think the history is real to be part of that. And myself, personally, and for the corporation, to be able to look back and 20 years with our kids, whatever, and see ourselves involved with a brand like Penskes, and be part of the museum and seen in a photo someplace, that's real.
And the concrete -- we've seen the results for the brand and for our partners in the retail side, Macy's and the others that we bring to it, the benefits have been real. So having the opportunity to take it further is just beyond our wildest dreams.
Q. And also you know when you're getting involved with Team Penske, there's a pretty good opportunity that your car's going to end up in victory lane. And just how important is that for IZOD as a brand to have the IZOD car get into victory lane?
MIKE KELLY: I think you've all seen. We're working hard. We're working hard as a brand and as a corporation to keep our end of the bargain. And honestly try to model what we think it means to be a title sponsor. There's a responsibility I always say to try to help to create a petri dish and model the kinds of things that will be attractive, because what's really required to build the sport is greater sponsor involvement. There's no question. Getting sponsor funds to flow no the teams, to flow to the drivers, that put it out there, put out so much out on the line, they deserve sponsorship dollars, there's no question to fund the sport.
So to pay off all that work, all that hard work with a win, let alone at someplace like Centennial or the 500 or to be involved with Ryan at the end of the season, to see that, are you kidding? I mean, that would be just -- that would be just over the top.
Q. Ryan, your first big win for Team Penske came back at Milwaukee, any predictions from you on your first win in the 2011 series carrying IZOD colors?
RYAN BRISCOE: I mean, if we can kick off with the Indy 500, you know, you can't beat that. But, yeah, I mean, I'm not big on making predictions, but I certainly feel confident going into 2011 and the work hasn't stopped since Homestead.
And it's been nonstop and looking towards next year, and especially the Indy 500. And as usual, you know, for Team Penske, that race is a huge focus. But I'm really motivated right now and just 100 percent looking towards the start of 2011 and especially the Indy 500.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|