Aug 24, 2012
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Soldiers on the podium with AMA Pro National Guard Superbike competitors (from left) Blake Young, Josh Hayes and Josh Herrin at Road America in June. Photo by Brian J. Nelson, courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
By Michael Gougis
The National Guard paid a $2.25 million sponsorship fee for its association with the #54 Suzuki GSX-R1000 ridden by Roger Lee Hayden in the National Guard Superbike class during the 2011 AMA Pro Racing season, according to documents obtained by Roadracing World.
In exchange for that investment, the Guard got nearly 15 times its investment in media exposure, with a return on investment valued at $32,789,897.96, according to the National Guard's 2011 AMA Pro ROI (Return On Investment) Report.
A copy of that report was provided to Roadracing World in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act request. The 29-page document briefly details the tax dollars spent by the Guard in AMA Pro Racing-related activities. For the Jordan team, the second page of the report has a single line-item that reads, "#54 Sponsorship Fee: $2,225,000." The report has no further details about how that money was spent.
However, the report goes into much greater detail about the claimed exposure those expenditures generated:
- The Michael Jordan Motorsports team generated 213,627,072 print and web impressions during the 2011 season, with 88,460,184 additional impressions of the National Guard.
- The team and the Guard generated more than 1.5 billion (that's billion with a "B") Twitter impressions.
- MJM rider Ben Bostrom's one-off MotoGP ride at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca generated another 110 million impressions of the National Guard logo worldwide.
The report highlighted the dollar value of the Jordan Motorsports exposure in several ways. At-track exposure was valued at $6,139,810. Broadcast exposure was valued at $17,908,720, with SPEED TV interviews with Roger Lee Hayden alone valued at $182,270. Print and web exposure was valued at $11,402,233, with Internet articles about Hayden alone worth $1,533,705.
The report indicated that the Guard spent an additional $140,000 on motorcycle safety events with Jordan and Jason Pridmore's STAR School and received a value of $931,500.
Title sponsorship of the AMA Pro National Guard Superbike class in 2011 cost the Guard another $220,000, and generated $3,117,166 in television, AMA Pro Racing website, blog, Internet article and print article exposure, the report states.
Sponsorship for the AMA Pro STAR School National Guard 600cc Team with rider James Rispoli cost the Guard an additional $99,450 (page three of the report) or $99,500 (page nine of the report) and generated media impressions worth $463,876 in 2011, the report stated.
The report includes a testimonial from Staff Sgt. Edgar I. Sanchez, who participated in the Guard's safety program associated with the STAR school:
"I consider myself to be a good rider, but there was a wealth of knowledge at this course. I now see that I have a lot to learn," Sanchez said, according to the report. "It is 100 times better than the Army mandatory MSF course, which is a basic course that I learned nothing from. This course was not about speed and how fast you can go, but rather about becoming more comfortable in knowing what the limitations of you and your bike are. I will recommend this course to any soldier/civilian."
The six videos produced for the Guard by the On The Throttle TV generated more than 700,000 page views, the report states, but the cost of those videos was not broken out.
The report not only quantifies the claimed dollar value of the sponsorship, but also details strategic business partnerships that are associated with sponsoring Michael Jordan Motorsports. Sponsoring MJM creates a direct association with other brands linked with Jordan's activities, such as Hanes, Upper Deck, Oakley and Gatorade and Jordan himself (one of the most well-known sports and public figures in the world).
Three months ago, Rick Breitenfeldt, Chief, Public Information Branch, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs, (which handles media relations for the National Guard), told Roadracing World that National Guard received about $29 million worth of exposure from its involvement in AMA Pro road racing, but declined to state how much National Guard spent to get that exposure even though Guard spending in NASCAR has been widely reported in the general media. Breintenfeldt stated that the only way Roadracing World could get that information was to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Roadracing World took Breitenfeldt's suggestion and filed a FOIA request, and was told that it would take until October to receive the information, long after the issue would be settled in congress. The report actually arrived last week; the Congressional debate ended a month ago, when a spending bill amendment to ban military sponsorships of motorsport events and teams was defeated.
Notably, the FOIA report arrived with a cover letter from Jennifer Nikolaisen, Chief, Office of Information and Privacy, Chief FOIA/Privacy Officer, National Guard Bureau, stating that "the AMA Pro Racing program was designed as a branding and outreach platform from which the National Guard has the opportunity to tell our story and inform the public about who we are and what we do. Because of the intention of the program, leads and enlistments are not tracked in any formal statistics."
That statement seems directed at congressional critics who have complained that National Guard's motorsport sponsorships have not been cost-effective in generating recruitment leads or actual enlistments.