With an eye toward his future, Jeff Gordon is leaving IMG to chart a new course with Just Marketing International, a motorsports marketing agency in Indianapolis that has not been in the driver representation business before.
Gordon had spent more than ten years with IMG, and during most of that time he was the only NASCAR driver in the agency's talent stable. But as Gordon, 38, approaches the twilight of his driving career, he's looking for a deeper selection of business opportunities within motorsports that extend beyond endorsements.
“I think Jeff is past the point of looking for the traditional deal that gets you a patch on his sleeve,” said John Bickford, Gordon's stepfather, chief business adviser and general manager of Jeff Gordon Inc. “What we're looking for is more integrated business opportunities that will position Jeff post-racing.”
Those opportunities could involve racetrack design, team ownership or other business ventures inside motorsports, Bickford said. Gordon is currently working with a developer in Canada to build a Gordon-signature track that he designed.
“To think about going into a project with the marketing support of JMI behind you, it became crystal clear that this was the direction to go,” Bickford said.
Among the endorsement deals that IMG struck on behalf of Gordon were Tag Heuer watches, Foster Grant sunglasses and Halston Z-14 cologne, the type of lifestyle plays that were good fits when Gordon was at the peak of his driving career. He was represented at the agency by Alan Zucker.
Gordon's #24 sponsors at Hendrick Motorsports include long-time partner DuPont, National Guard, Pepsi and Chevrolet. Those sponsorship arrangements are separate from the personal endorsement deals signed by IMG, which did not sell team sponsorships for Hendrick.
“Jeff was a celebrity client for over ten years, and we had a great relationship,” IMG spokesman Jim Gallagher said. “It was a parting on good terms.”
IMG loses Gordon after a year of growth in its motorsports division. It added a sales and marketing relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing and representation of Danica Patrick as she moved into NASCAR.