Hulman Motorsports CEO Mark Miles and Verizon Wireless vice president of marketing Brian Angiolet participated in an INDYCAR Conference Call to discuss the announcement.
Verizon IndyCar Series conference call with Mark Miles and Brian Angiolet: Earlier today, INDYCAR announced a multi-year entitlement agreement with Verizon that will see North America's premier open-wheel racing championship named the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Q. Mark, a big day for IndyCar as Verizon was announced a short time ago as entitlement partner for the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Brian, as my partner on the phone now, Brian, I just want to say publicly how pleased we are with today and getting us to this place. It's not lost on us that Verizon has been a partner of IndyCar as our official wireless partner for the last four years, so we know that you know us, and we know that you know the sport. You've already made great contributions primarily through the sponsorship of the Penske car, the Verizon car, but you've had the opportunity to really get under the hood, so to speak, and to understand the potential of this sport and what makes us tick, and that gives us great confidence about this partnership going forward.
You know, as we've done some work in the last several months as has probably been done in the past, I think about what is fundamentally INDYCAR; speed and the daring of the drivers and the skill of the drivers are, we think, a huge part of what we offer the public. But at the same time, going back to our earliest roots, innovation is part of our brand and part of what we stand for. The more we've thought about it, innovation has a role on the track, and we expect to be more innovative, again, over time.
But innovation also has a lot to do with how we go to the market and how we captivate the fans and present the sport in all its depth and excitement to fans, and I cannot imagine a more perfect partner to be true to those roots and to take us to the next level of leadership in sports for the way we use innovation to put the sport forward.
So we are just thrilled with this announcement, cannot wait to begin to activate, as the sponsor folks say, and to take this to a new level.
Q. How do you measure the importance of being able to go from one season with a sponsor to getting a series sponsor the very next season?
MARK MILES: We like to think we're aggressive in growing Indy car racing, and so time is of the essence. That's not a financial answer. Financially the series, the company is in very solid shape and we're very much in an investment mode this year. But we are just eager to get on with taking this sport to another level, and what Verizon brings is a long list of attributes.
I've come to already not think of them so much as a wireless company as a technology company, and it's the Verizon IndyCar Series, but they're our technology partner. We've had a chance to have a lot of conversations about the potential for the development of technology, and it just knocks your socks off and gives me a lot of excitement about the way we can reach fans, provide more value for the teams and the drivers.
We're so eager to get on with it. I haven't thought of it in the past as whether we skipped a beat or might have from one year to the next, but I can tell you that I expect impact this year, and for all the journalists that cover us and for fans who watch us and fans who don't know they're going to watch us but will, there will be a discernible difference this year.
Q. Brian, as Mark mentioned, Verizon has been a partner of INDYCAR for the last four years, and now you take the big step up as the entitlement sponsor. How excited is Verizon about today's announcement?
BRIAN ANGIOLET: Obviously we're thrilled. I think to Mark's point, we've had a great relationship just as a partner, and then even with the Penske team. When you look at this, it just became the right time for Verizon to step up into this position.
Internally, we have been evolving our brand and our position in the marketplace from a mobile‑ and wireless‑centric company into more of this technology company, and when you think about the role that technology plays in INDYCAR, it just seemed like a great match.
And now with this agreement, and when you look at the roadmap that we have both in the agreement and from a product standpoint, I think we feel that we now have a platform really here to demonstrate what all of our technology can bring to the fan base, inside and outside the venue. So it's a perfect match at a perfect time.
Q. Brian, Verizon, as I recall, their last national TV commercial actually featured a driver, Will Power. Can you break down the money that's going to be invested on an annual basis, how much would be for television and commercials and newspaper and magazine advertising and just the marketing of INDYCAR?
BRIAN ANGIOLET: It's not our policy to comment on kind of the level of investment around these things, but what I can tell you is the choices that we make to feature drivers in some of the commercial assets that you're speaking of, we're not necessarily beholden to those just by whatever our commitment is. Those spots and commercials for us are about putting our brand in the right context where we can tee up certain things.
My point in saying all that is we'll invest in those at whatever level we feel appropriate, either to drive brand, or as we start thinking about product or fan experiences as the years come, it wouldn't be beholden to simply anything that's in an agreement. I think it's a good partnership for us to use in multiple ways beyond just a specific in‑program type of activation or marketing asset.
What They're Saying: INDYCAR-Verizon Entitlement Partnership:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles: "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 has long been recognized as a technological proving ground and an association with Verizon positions the racetrack with the global leader in technological innovation and communication. As we work to enhance the fan experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading up to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, we are excited about the new avenues in information delivery and access that Verizon will be able to help us explore for our fans."
Chevrolet U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports Jim Campbell: "It's great to have Verizon as the series sponsor of IndyCar for the 2014 season. Verizon's brand strength, innovative technologies and customer focus, combined with the excitement of IndyCar action will complement and enhance the overall experience for the series, teams and fans."
Honda Performance Development President Art St. Cyr: "This is exciting news. Verizon has a long and distinguished record in motorsports, and will add to the worldwide appeal of IndyCar racing, particularly in the marketing and promotion of the fastest, most versatile racing series in the world. Congratulations to Mark Miles, Jay Frye and the entire INDYCAR staff. We appreciate the effort and dedication that helped make today's announcement possible. Along with all fans of IndyCar racing, we are looking forward to a long and successful association with Verizon and many thrilling seasons of competition in the future."
Team Penske owner Roger Penske: "Verizon Wireless has been a terrific partner for Team Penske and as a global leader in technology and communications the company is a perfect fit as a title sponsor for the Verizon IndyCar Series. We have seen how much Verizon cares about advancing technology in racing and how it can help bring the sport closer to the fans. Verizon has tremendous passion for IndyCar racing and their vision, dedication and commitment will be a great benefit to the Verizon IndyCar Series and its future."
Chip Ganassi Racing Teams owner Chip Ganassi: "This is big news for the series. With Verizon's global reach they should be able to do a lot to help us all grow this tremendous sport throughout the world. They have always been an innovative company and ultimately I think their brand pairs well with the series. I am very pleased with the announcement."
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal: "It's tremendous news for INDYCAR to have a company of the stature of Verizon join the series at this level, and on an even broader basis than it had been with Penske Racing. I believe that this is just what INDYCAR has needed to go forward. I'm sure the teams and all the participants will do all in their power to ensure that Verizon achieves their goals through this partnership."
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner/driver Ed Carpenter: "We couldn't ask for better a partner. Verizon has been an aggressive sponsor in the IndyCar Series for several years. The Verizon brand is one of the most well-known and established in North America. The new partnership is a great match for the high-tech world of Indy car racing.
Three-time and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon: "It's obviously a huge announcement for our sport and the series. Verizon has been a very visible partner of the series the past several years. I'm really looking forward to seeing them activate their partnership and growing the sport we all love."