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CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY | ADVERTISING

Maximum Value : One Company Has Found a Way to Make Advertising Pay, and Some Sponsors Get a Bargain for Their Money

June 18, 1997|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

He sits there with a computer keyboard on his lap, watching as Greg Moore's Indy car zips around the Milwaukee track on television.

Bing, there's the STP sign, and bing, there's MCI, and bing, there's Kool on the car's wing, and bing, there's MCI again, and bing, there's Goodyear, and bing, there's Texaco on the side pod, and bing, there's Ford.

Eric Wright types STP, MCI, KOO, MCI, GOO, TEX, FOR.

Five seconds have passed.

And there's Texaco again, an in-car camera revealing the track in front of Michael Andretti's machine, Wright seeing its logo-festooned side pods in the picture for one, two, three . . . six seconds, and Wright types again.

Texaco has gotten six seconds of advertising time it didn't directly buy during an Indy car telecast, and Joyce Julius Cotman has another satisfied customer.

Her company, Joyce Julius and Associates, puts out "The Sponsors Report" and the "NTIV Analysis," which have become bibles of motor racing, in which dollars translate to horsepower and cars dressed up like billboards chase each other in what have become three-hour infomercials.

They measure the times you can clearly see a sign or a logo during a race and translate those exposures into dollar figures, based on the cost of a 30-second advertisement on the program and the rating of the telecast.

If an ad costs $60,000 for 30 seconds, Texaco got $12,000 from its in-car camera shot, by Joyce Julius' reckoning, and it mounts up.

Last year, NASCAR sponsors got $842,459,300 of comparable ad time in 31 races. The top sponsor, Winston, picked up $40,085,520 of that, which is time it couldn't buy because a tobacco company can't advertise on television.

And when drivers, whose ability to plug a sponsor is congenital, get going, the money rolls up.

When Dale Earnhardt says he had trouble passing the 88 car, nothing happens. But Dale Jarrett, driver of old No. 88, might say "the Ford Quality Care, Ford Credit Ford Thunderbird [inhale] was really rolling today." And back in the office of the brick building in Ann Arbor, Mich., Bob Prebola, the NASCAR editor of "The Sponsors Report"--Wright is the Indy car editor--gets tired fingers.

And it's not only cars. Think the NBA uses a Spalding ball because it bounces better? The league went to Joyce Julius and Associates to find out just how valuable it was to be the official ball of the NBA.

While Karl Malone stands at the free throw line and you're looking into his televised eyes as they sight the basket, somebody in the Joyce Julius office in Ann Arbor, Mich., is looking for "Spalding" on the basketball in his hands. If it shows, bing, there's a hit and ca-ching, Commissioner David Stern's cash register rings.

Last year, Joyce Julius did 35 hours of curling, looking for sponsor mentions. This year, it will do 18-20 hours of bull-riding, looking for sponsorship possibilities. It taped 45 shows--nine analysts doing them at home for extra money and bringing the tapes to work--last weekend and will do 1,500 this year.

The San Antonio Spurs called, looking for help in getting a new arena, and Joyce Julius started counting the televised mentions of San Antonio so the team could go back to the city fathers with evidence of just how valuable the NBA franchise was, and how it would be a shame if it was moved to Anaheim or someplace.

Buick wants help figuring out how much it's really getting for sponsoring four PGA Tour events. For $20,000, it knows where to go.

All of this came out of some pizza stores, and from Phil Rossette, who was sitting in his basement in Chicago with a TV and a stopwatch, wondering who would pay him to use them.

It was 1982, and Domino's had just opened its 500th store and had big ideas.

"They were going to do their first national TV buy," says Joyce Julius Cotman, whose husband, Bob, is part of the firm.

"Domino's had a very low awareness factor outside of a Domino's pizza delivery area, and Bob had started an advertising company and they went to him to buy the national exposure. The company came back with a proposal about this long."

She holds her fingers a couple of inches apart. Domino's was willing to spend $300,000 to go national, about the equivalent of 30 seconds of the Super Bowl telecast at the time.

Enter Doug Shierson, who was looking for help with his Indy car team.

For the $300,000, and an additional $100,000-$150,000 during the year, Bob Cotman bought sponsorship of an Indy car.

He also bought trouble.

"You can imagine 500 of the most angry franchisees in the world because this stupid person took an entire national advertising budget that was going to buy their first national TV advertising and bought a stupid race car," Joyce says.

Cotman hired Joyce Julius--they later married--to oversee the program and keep the store owners from killing him. Shierson put Howdy Holmes in the car and went racing.

They didn't win, but they were seen on television all over the country.

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