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Indy Racing League Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Racing League

Indy Racing League Media Conference

Brian Barnhart
Jeff Belskus
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Mike Kelly
November 5, 2009


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We welcome you, appreciate you taking the time to join us. Special welcome to those watching on IndyCar.com and those that dialed in for the national teleconference.
Please welcome to the stage, Jeff Belskus, Brian Barnhart and Mike Kelly.
JEFF BELSKUS: Welcome to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Today I'm pleased to be making one of the most significant announcements we've made in the history of the IndyCar Series. Since the unification of open-wheel racing less than two years ago, we have welcomed several strong new partners to the league. One of those partners is IZOD, one of the best-known, best-selling apparel brands in America. Since joining the league in July of 2008, IZOD has hit the ground running with unparalleled marketing and activation, both on track and off track.
Today we are taking our partnership to a new level. We are very proud to introduce them as our title sponsor. As of today, the premiere form of open-wheel racing in this country will be known as the IZOD IndyCar Series. IZOD and its parent company PVH, Phillips-Van Heusen, with their strong marketing skills, national retail partnerships and ability to bring fresh perspective to our sport, will prove powerful for everyone involved in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
I'd like to thank Mike Kelly and his entire IZOD team for making this partnership a reality. I'd also like to extend a special thank to Allen Sirkin, the president and chief operating officer of PVH, who is making this partnership announcement from New York today. Both he and Mike have become great friends and partners to us. They believe in this sport and they realize its potential.
Finally I'd also like to thank Terry Angstadt, Brian Barnhart, the entire team at the IndyCar Series for their efforts in making this partnership possible.
This is the start of a new day for us and teaming up with a strong brand like IZOD shows what a bright future we have. Thank you for joining us on this historic day.
Brian.
BRIAN BARNHART: Thanks, Jeff. Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome and a very special welcome to Mike and the entire IZOD team. Mike has become a true friend and a real believer in our sport.
I'd like to share a few thoughts about the direction and the future plans around our new relationship. It truly is a great match for both organizations. The IZOD IndyCar Series name will take effect immediately today and IZOD has committed itself to the IndyCar Series for six years plus options with this multi-million dollar relationship.
The key two attributes that IZOD really likes about the IndyCar brand attributes are speed, diversity and green, and in particular speed will play a key messaging point in all marketing communications, and IZOD will work very closely with the IndyCar Series to portray the IndyCar Series as the fastest race on earth.
The series' combination of young, dynamic drivers representing 14 countries, events in key domestic cities as well as several global markets, along with the great American racing heritage, make the IndyCar Series a perfect fit for the sport-spirited IZOD brand and lifestyle.
We're also very excited about IZOD's position as a non-endemic property, outside the motorsports realm. They're committed to working with us to grow our sport and position the series to the mainstream.
IZOD is committed to working with the league, the tracks, and all the race teams to utilize everyone's assets in a synergistic manner. Many of these initiatives will be outside of the traditional motorsports marketing initiatives, and they are intended to broaden the promotion of the sport out of the racetrack and into pop culture.
Some of the immediate benefits for the league include some enhanced national media initiatives with the IZOD IndyCar Series' two television partners, ABC and Versus, as well as non-traditional sports programming channels, a multi-million dollar, multi-year commitment to grow the IZOD IndyCar Series team enhancement and allocation matrix, the Team Fund, online initiatives and web initiatives as well, online promotions as well as access to over a hundred years of assets of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for use both at the track and off the track in and out of race markets, and rights to use one of the most dynamic marketing experiences in any sport, the IZOD IndyCar Series two-seater, with the ability to take two parade laps with the grid prior to the start of each race, including the Indianapolis 500. This will provide a one-of-a-kind experience for an IZOD-selected VIP or fan.
You can see, we're on a fast track and a fast journey and we're very excited about the future. Thank you.
Mike.
MIKE KELLY: Thanks, guys. Thank you very much. How cool is this. An amazing day for our brand. We couldn't be prouder. On behalf of IZOD, we couldn't be prouder to be here. We're thankful for everybody that put on the event. The car looks amazing, the stage amazing, everybody looks amazing. Thank you. The partnership has been amazing.
16 months ago some of you in the room will remember, almost to the day, we were at Watkins Glen on the 4th of July, I was on a stage that wasn't quite as cool as this, but we had a pool and a paddock, we threw a party because it was our first day being involved with the league and the sport.
We announced that day that we were the official apparel sponsor for the IndyCar Series at the time. We also introduced Ryan Hunter-Reay as a partnership that we began that day. Ryan went on to win that race. It was his first Indy race that he won on the 4th of July.
But on that day we saw nothing but growth and opportunity in the league. What goes on here is just absolutely amazing. We felt there were stories to be told. That day we kind of declared our commitment as the official apparel sponsor. 16 months later, we declare the same. We couldn't be more proud, more excited, and we see nothing but growth and opportunity here.
This is an amazing sport. The speed is unbelievable, the show that goes on. We believe with our partners we can take this out into pop culture and kind of put this on display in a bigger way.
On behalf of everybody at IZOD, PVH, Phillips-Van Heusen, everybody globally that works on this brand, those in the league that have helped us get this far, we say thank you very much, we couldn't be prouder.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike. We'll go ahead and take questions, allow some of the media here to ask some questions.

Q. Can you give us some of the details in terms of the length of the agreement, the amount of money, how it may be allocated.
MIKE KELLY: We're committed to six years plus. We assume everything will be going then. If so, we'll exercise an option. But we're committed to six years right now.
On the money, we don't disclose as a corporation the terms of our deal. Anybody who was around in '09, I guess all of you were, you saw as a brand we were committed even as the apparel sponsor in our activation, what we spent, while often recorded wrong, was certainly well into the millions. We activated aggressively in major markets and minor markets. We went into markets before a race, three weeks in advance, and we would blitz that market with advertising, with cinema, with additional spot TV, in addition to the media that we were buying, as one of the most aggressive buyers I believe on both ESPN, ABC and Versus.
This year as the title sponsor, in the years to come, we're committed to that and then some. We expect to be very aggressive in our spending.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Mike. More questions.

Q. Brian, you talked about how exciting this is, and it obviously is. But can you talk a little bit more about what a title sponsor that is really active is going to mean to this series.
BRIAN BARNHART: I think the best thing about it is going to be the activation aspect of it because they're going to spend a lot of money raising the awareness of the series and increasing the amount of eyeballs that are watching our sport. That's the first step in raising the value of participation in this series. It obviously has been a long time since we've had a title sponsor. To be honest with you, it's probably the first legitimate title sponsor we've ever had. So that adds to the excitement.
As I mentioned, with IZOD being a non-endemic property, it's great. I think a lot of people expected it to be something within the motorsports industry when it happened, whether it would be tire, fuel, oil or engine manufacturer related. The fact that it's somebody who is outside the motorsports realm I think adds to the excitement of it because their ability to take us into mainstream and into the pop culture, take us into people's living rooms that aren't necessarily race fans to begin with, I think that's the exciting aspect of it.
Because of the length of the term, it adds so much credibility. I just think it's going to be, as I said, a great match for both organizations.

Q. Mike, the economy is not very good right now. Can you explain why make the decision right now versus waiting a little while longer?
MIKE KELLY: Sure, I'm not an economist, I'm a marketer. But as a corporation, if you see what we're doing across all of our brands, we have not pulled back in our marketing spend even though the environment became difficult.
We have grown, our brands have grown, we've grown in market share, we believe in share of units, share of dollars, also share of voice and share of mind. While our competition has pulled back on their spend, we see it in the marketplace. We've been aggressive with the spend. We're fortunate to be able to do so as a healthy company. It's bearing fruit for us.

Q. Mike and Brian, the IZOD name obviously is an iconic brand. Beyond that, what are the biggest assets that you feel IZOD brings to the table that will enable them to push the IndyCar Series into places it's never been before?
MIKE KELLY: I was speaking to somebody backstage. I was saying, if we were a brand that for some reason we had distribution in vending machines, there's only so much we could do in exposing the league on packaging, et cetera. But we're not. Our brands are carried in department stores across the country, particularly Macy's, which is a chosen partner. They're excited about Indy, what we do across the country in activation.
This provides a platform that inherently has great real estate, amazing windows, amazing space to draw customers from all over the world. We're allowed to work with their teams to put the sport on display. In these window, with the assets that were mentioned earlier, the museum, the history, the rich archives, we were blown away when we first came to this track, to the 500, what was available in this great, rich heritage and history. We just felt there were stories that could be told.
Fortunately we have a safe national platform and environment in which that can happen. So it's exciting. I think that's one of the great things we can bring, that plus our inherent marketing skills across all channels of distribution for apparel, we bring a fashion point of view, which brings to it entertainment, pop culture, et cetera. We'll use all of our media-buying strength, all of our marketing strength, the distribution platform we have through Macy's as a chosen partner to bring visibility to the sport.
BRIAN BARNHART: I echo that. I think what they bring to us is a marketing expertise we've never had, the credibility, stability, the fact that we finally have a partner who can help us raise the value and awareness of participation in this series.

Q. Brian, with this two-seater leading every race, will you have a regularly assigned driver, maybe one that's been driving here on a regular basis?
BRIAN BARNHART: Absolutely. We always have a regular licensed IndyCar driver drive the IZOD IndyCar Series two-seater. We think that's going to be a tremendous opportunity to put the two-seater on the grid with the starting field and to be able to put an IZOD VIP or a fan through a sweepstakes winner, that type of deal, to put it on the grid with the rest of the cars and have that passenger get in with a Davey Hamilton type of person who has driven it a lot. You put them in the car, on the grid, they say, Gentlemen, start your engines, they fire that up at the same time, it pulls away with the pace cars. That's going to be a very unique experience and a great marketing opportunity. We're kind of excited about that one.

Q. Mike, are you going to utilize drivers to be your front people so your fans and your customers get to know who the drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series are?
MIKE KELLY: Absolutely. Not just these two fellas, but we like 'em. It will be all the drivers. We've coined a couple phrases back at the office where we really love the notion of speed and what happens here with the brand. We don't think everybody, especially next generation males and females, know this is the fastest auto sport on the planet. But we talk about the stars in the cars, and we think there's stories, there's great talent in these athletes that aren't necessarily being told when they're in the suits, in the helmets, don't always get the opportunity to be seen for what they are.
We're going to take every opportunity possible. Ryan and Graham Rahal are heading out with me this weekend. We're going to play a couple golf tournaments. Alice Cooper has a public tournament. Mark Wahlberg. We're going to take an opportunity to put them on the red carpet, get them out, get them exposed. That's just a beginning. Certainly all the drivers, as long as there's opportunity and availability, we're looking to market the cars and the stars.

Q. Ryan, talk a little bit about, you came in with IZOD, now you're seeing them grow and become the title sponsor, talk about how that makes you personally feel, what you're hoping to get out of this for 2010?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, that's a pretty broad question, but it's been amazing. Since the first day I met Mike, I remember it was Indy 2008, we sat down and talked for a few minutes. He was just shooting all these ideas out. I was like, Who is this guy? He's nuts, shooting all these crazy ideas, he's going somewhere with this. Boy, next thing I know, we were announcing the deal at Watkins Glen. Like Mike said, we won that weekend, our first weekend together. Hopefully that's an omen.
I know this is going somewhere great. Looking at it from a drivers' perspective, all the drivers in the series, this is what we've been waiting for. This is it. I mean, I feel like this is a really fresh start for the IndyCar Series. PVH, IZOD, they're more of a marketing company than anything else. To have that accompanied with the IndyCar Series, to be partnered with the IndyCar Series, is absolutely amazing.
I mean, the sky is the limit right now. It sounds cliché. But this is a great start.

Q. Ryan, Robin last night said you're in negotiations with Andretti Green. Where does that stand? Do you feel confident you'll be in one of their cars next season?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, there's some good things going on for the future, but I can't really discuss it right now. I don't know where it's going at the moment. But there's some good things coming, that's for sure. Unfortunately, now's not the time. I can't discuss it.

Q. Mike, last year you had a lot of commercials, you did magazine ads. Is the goal to branch out to NBC, CBS, ESPN, have different commercials on different networks to have more people be aware of IndyCar racing?
MIKE KELLY: It is. It's not just broadcast. I believe today we just put up a huge billboard in Times Square announcing our deal. With the networks, the primary networks that we're contracted with through the series, ABC, ESPN, also Versus, we're working hard to extend ourselves across all of ABC, ESPN's platforms, with Versus, we're in agreement to extend the messaging across the Comcast school of networks, The Golf Channel, E, Style, G4, so we can reach younger, get our fashion message, et cetera.
Again, if you watched us last year, when I was in Dallas, I was watching I think it was Game 5 NBA, we were there. I was watching Wimbledon, we were there. That's our style, is to take what we can in terms of what we have in message and product and leverage that across as many platforms as possible using the power of our media buy, et cetera, as the whole corporation, all that we buy.
So, yes, we intend to do as much as we can.
THE MODERATOR: At this point we'll keep the rest of the questions for one-on-one. Thank you.

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