The Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation has announced a multi-year agreement for its IZOD brand to become title sponsor of the Indy Racing League-sanctioned IndyCar Series.
The newly renamed IZOD IndyCar Series will mark the League's first title sponsorship since 2001 and, as well as introducing a new logo and key partnership details, the announcement promised additional sponsorship activation, promotional plans and marketing initiatives would be revealed in the months leading to the start of the 2010 campaign.
"The combination of young, dynamic drivers representing over 14 countries, events in key domestic and global markets and its strong American racing heritage make the IndyCar Series a perfect fit for the sport-spirited IZOD brand lifestyle," Phillips-Van Heusen president and COO Allen Sirkin explained, "Our involvement with the IRL began shortly after the unification of US open-wheel racing and, despite the recession, we have seen growth and sense the potential for even greater opportunity as the sport is re-energised on the American sports landscape, as well as abroad.
"We're excited at the opportunity to become the title sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series and look forward to taking our partnership with the fastest form of motorsport in the world, along with its cars and stars, to a new level of marketing and activation both on and off the track."
Key elements of the agreement are expected to include brand-building efforts to broaden the promotion of the sport both off the track and beyond its traditional audience, including increased and enhanced national media initiatives with the IRL's television partners ESPN on ABC
; multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment to participate in the series' Team Enhancement/Allocation Matrix fund - which provides a guaranteed financial foundation for all teams committed to running the entire schedule - and shared internet initiatives and online promotions.
The partnership will also benefit from access to drivers and 100 years' worth of motorsports assets and graphics from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, including current and vintage cars, for both on- and off-track events, in and out of race markets, and the rights to use one parade laps in the IZOD IndyCar Series two-seater at the start of the Indianapolis 500 and other selected races as a one-of-a-kind experience for VIPs or sweepstakes winners.
Under the new arrangement, IZOD will also retain its designation as the official apparel partner of the Indy Racing League, which began in 2008.
"Our relationship with the IZOD brand has been on the fast track since the day we began our partnership in 2008, and we are thrilled they have taken a bigger and more vital role in our sport," IRL commercial president Terry Angstadt admitted, "Their strong marketing skills, national retail partnerships and ability to bring fresh eyes to the sport have already proven powerful in our short time together. We're confident that we have found a partner with a strong brand, a bright future and a vision for growing the IZOD IndyCar Series that will benefit fans, drivers, teams, owners and tracks."
The move by Phillips-Van Heusen follows a series of recent similar decisions to shift IZOD's marketing mix towards sports and sponsorship activation. In 2008, the brand was awarded the naming rights for the home stadium of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, renaming it the IZOD Centre and raising it to the fourth-ranked venue of its kind in North America. Phillips-Van Heusen also recently announced its own sponsorship of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame fan vote, a first of its kind for any professional sport.
The company's relationship with the Indy Racing League began in July 2008, when it announced an agreement for IZOD to become the official apparel sponsor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. Prior to the 2009 season, the brand introduced a vintage clothing line commemorating the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Centennial Era, launched initially at select Macy's stores nationwide and supported by a national advertising campaign that included an IZOD/IRL themed commercial shown during all nationally-televised race broadcasts, as well as other television and cinema slots, print advertisements and high-profile billboards in New York City and Toronto.
All advertisements featured IZOD-sponsored Ryan Hunter-Reay, and there has been some speculation that the brand could return to back the 2008 rookie of the year, possibly taking him back to Rahal Letterman Racing, where RH-R and IZOD shared Watkins Glen success days before a billboard was unveiled in Times Square.