IZOD makes it rain

Posted by Iannucci | 11/04/2009 | , | 11 comments »
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Our long, national nightmare is over. For the first time since 2002 the IndyCar Series will finally - finally - have a title sponsor. The intrepid Curt Cavin broke the news, it's now the "IZOD IndyCar Series" to about the tune of $10 meeeellion per year in an agreement spanning five years.

While we don't know how much of that total amount is going directly to the league, how much involves ad buys, how much goes to help an unnamed driver race for an unnamed team (consult your local rumor mill for your own answers) of that single most over-aired commercial in racing history, we do know that on the surface it appears that commercial was a correct: everything IS gonna be alright, heh heh.

The most obvious side effect of this deal is that there is a lot more money floating around the league, which should serve to attract a bit more competition. And having a title sponsor should make it more convincing for others to join the sponsorship bandwagon. That's the the theory at least, but I'm not entirely sold.

Beggars can't be choosers, but that doesn't mean a starving man wants a handful of cotton-polyester blend to eat. I have nothing against IZOD and I sincerrely hope they can make more than ONE commercial, but let's be honest - the majority of auto racing fans probably don't own any IZOD stuff. They don't shop at Macy's for $60 shirts, and just because IZOD is the title sponsor it doesn't mean they will. It's not so much that it's a bad sponsor like "Bill's House of Crack", it's just, well, maybe it's me but I'm a little uncomfortable with the direction this goes.

Over the past few years we've seen lots of fashion designers sponsor various racers. Companies like Rock & Republic, William Rast, etc., likely because of the speed and glamor of racing. That makes sense for IZOD or all these $100 jeans makers as sponsors, but there's a subtle message here: The IRL is happily coupling their product with over-priced stuff people don't need. Some might argue is a factual message at this point, but the folks at 16th and Georgetown probably aren't actually considering the slogan "IndyCar - we're an overpriced product you don't need." I'm not saying this is the only message here with this announcement, just that this was my first thought. Maybe it's just me.

I'm still glad there's a title sponsor of some sort, because goodness knows there wasn't a huge line of folks waiting to drop wads of cash on this series. It's fantastic for the series to have that finally checked off the to-do list, but the fact remains that until they lower the cost of operation and improve the actual racing they're going to continue to struggle to find sponsors not named "IZOD".

11 comments

  1. The SpeedGeek // November 04, 2009 7:19 AM  

    Jeff, hold up. Are you trying to tell us that Bill's House of Crack was in the running as a title sponsor? If that's the case, then this is definitely bad news for all of us. BHoC provides a fantastic product at a fair price, and I think they'd have been able to make huge marketing strides with a new League slogan. Out with "I Am Indy", in with "Indy Rocks!"

  2. pressdog // November 04, 2009 7:53 AM  

    I think the idea is to attract new fans, so appealing to the $100 jeans crowd makes sense in that regard. I do chortle that they are going with the speed angle when, thanks to the road courses, the average race speed in 2010 will be lower than ever. $10 meeyun (and that's just raw speculation at this point. It could easily be $1 million and I doubt IndyCar will disclose) is $10 meeyun. The good news is IZOD must have been happy enough with the return on their investment last year to take it up several notches this year. Whatever leads to more field-wide competition on the track I am for a trillion percent.

  3. btzucker // November 04, 2009 8:04 AM  

    I think your argument that racing fans don't own IZOD stuff or shop at Macy's is really unfounded. In my opinion, IZOD is nothing like Rock & Republic or William Rast. I'd never even heard of those brands before they sponsored cars. IZOD is a widely known and purchased brand and to put it in the context of car brands, I would put IZOD at the Buick level where those others you mentioned would be Cadillac or Mercedes. In fact, I think that IndyCar racing actually attracts fans that are more sophisticated than N***** fans. While those fans may only buy Wranglers, I think IndyCar fans are a somewhat more broad audience. I would never spend the money it costs to buy Rock & Republic Jeans but I certainly own 3 or 4 IZOD polo type shirts. But, hey, that's just me. What do I know. In any event, I think that its awesome to have a title sponsor!

  4. Iannucci // November 04, 2009 8:09 AM  

    btzucker,

    Not to make generalities, but are you telling me THIS GUY has a wardrobe full of IZOD?

    http://www.mynameisirl.com/2008/08/have-you-seen-this-guy.html

  5. Allen Wedge // November 04, 2009 9:57 AM  

    obviously the money is good, but I have to say I like IZOD, mostly because they are an already activating sponsor so you know they will be an activating title sponsor.


    That aside, think of this more as a move toward feeling of worth like Formula One, fashion has that effect, making something feel bigger than it is (like $4000 dresses made of $1 of fabric) I'm not saying IndyCar is $1 of fabric, but think of all IndyCar drivers showing up in clothing ads and commercials; think of what can be at the track, especially road courses and the feel of that. PPG was certainly nothing that could be activated, and neither was Northern Light, this has a good level of activation and quality behind it. I like it.

  6. Will-isitmayyet.com // November 04, 2009 10:15 AM  

    A few points...

    While your example (or my favorite, O'Neal: http://www.isitmayyet.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/oneal.jpg) may not have a wide variety of IZOD clothing, I do. I know quite a few others who do as well. Honestly, IZOD isn't too terribly ridiculous in terms of polo shirts. A little more expensive than Old Navy? Perhaps...probably still cheaper than The 'Naner Republic.

    They also have the best shorts on the planet.

    I guess my point is that IZOD isn't really as hoity-toity as you proclaim. You'll see plenty of polo shirts around the speedway in May.

    That said, I had never heard of William Rast prior to their sponsorship, but your estimation of $100 jeans is about half as much as they really are.

    The last part of a generation that views a racecar as a racecar and not as a chevy cavalier is reaching that age where they coming into money but aren't all parents. They should be shooting for people like me.

  7. J // November 04, 2009 10:23 AM  

    On a related note, I was doing some Christmas shopping (yeah, I know...) at Target yesterday, and was invariably in the die-cast car aisle - for my son, of course! My eyes lit up when I saw the Hot Wheels IndyCars, and I almost got him a couple, until I saw the price. Shouldn't these be a buck, maybe two at tops? Leave the overpriced die-cast to the stupid collectors - I want an IndyCar for my son to play with on the carpet or in the sandbox.

  8. btzucker // November 04, 2009 10:32 AM  

    Nice picture Jeff. I doubt he's draping himself in Izod, but he may need a nice shirt for Sundays. Maybe now he gets an Izod. It seems Will and I are in agreement though he may have said it better.

  9. pressdog // November 04, 2009 11:04 AM  

    I certainly hope Izod can interest its customers in IndyCar. They're the holy grail demo that would do the series tons of good. Holister, Abercrombie, if we/they can somehow make IndyCar hip with the kids, BAM. Terry Angstadt gets a statue outside IMS, and deservedly so.

  10. BP // November 04, 2009 11:11 AM  

    IZOD as a whole isn't a bad partner to be signing up; if IndyCar an gain access to the entire Van Heusen line to promote the series, even better.

    Now, I'm right in IZOD's demographic wheelhouse (I think), but the shirts they ran out last year were a notch above horrific in terms of design. If they can fix that, and come up with some more cash for 3-4 commercials, I won't complain.

  11. tripleleagueracing // November 04, 2009 2:00 PM  

    Izod probably isn't the best sponsor for Indycar, but if they market well, it's good. They need good activation, though. 10 Million will be good, though. And, Izod might do a lot for Indycar, if it does it will be a good thing. I'm worried about Indycar a lot, but, NASCAR is so ripe to be taken on, it's not even funny. If things go really well, Indycar could get back up to decent ratings and popularity.