Deal With Cable Net Fuel Includes Pre-Super Bowl Special on Fox

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%%LOS ANGELES -- After two successful tours, Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huckjam is about to get some serious TV exposure for its third outing this summer -- a major coup not only for the event, but also its sponsors. News Corp.'s Fuel, a cable channel devoted to action sports, has signed on as title sponsor to Mr. Hawk's summer skateboarding, BMX and motocross shows, giving the nascent Boom Boom Huckjam tour its first ongoing TV coverage, including a pre-Super Bowl special on its broadcast sibling, the Fox network. The tour, which has taken place on a smaller scale twice before, with a break in 2004, has had limited TV coverage in the past, with specials on MTV and ESPN. Sponsors have included Best Buy, Hershey, the Sci Fi Channel and Quiksilver, and more than 300,000 people turned out for the live events. The blast of TV coverage could boost attendance and bring in more sponsors.
A marketer magnet
McDonald's Corp. and video-game company Activision are sponsoring this year's tour, which features action sports stars in choreographed arena shows with a live music sound track. Mr. Hawk, one of skateboarding's best-known stars and a marketer magnet, will be among the performers. Mr. Hawk has ongoing relationships with both McDonald's and Activision, publisher of his skate-centric video games. Fuel, distributed to 12 million homes by companies like Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, plans to air a TV series late next year chronicling the tour. The network also will produce a half-hour preview show that will air on the regional Fox Sports Networks in markets where the tour will stop, and will air ongoing tour coverage in Fuel's regular series 54321 Weekly Update. Fuel also licensed Mr. Hawk's "Trick Tips," a series of instructional vignettes, for the channel, giving the shorts their first national TV exposure. %%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% "Having so much TV time will increase awareness and introduce these sports to people who might not have seen them before," Mr. Hawk said. "And it'll get the show in front of people who've never heard of it." Fuel, which targets 13- to 24-year-old males, will launch some significant local marketing efforts as the tour crosses the country, and will tag its print ads in action sports magazines with tour details. A spring sweepstakes is likely, supported by on-air spots, online and print advertising.
A boost for Fuel
The Fuel sponsorship comes at a time when the young cable channel is looking to expand its distribution and audience. "This tour speaks to what the channel's about on so many levels," said C.J. Olivares, Fuel's senior vice president and assistant general manager. "It will allow us to reach out and touch our audience in a way we couldn't do with any other property." Mr. Hawk's broad fan base, which includes families and appeals to multiple generations, is a plus for the channel, Mr. Olivares said. This year's tour will feature a pumped-up lineup of performers and tricks, Mr. Hawk said, including a $1 million ramp system.
McDonald's and the Super Bowl
McDonald's is advertising in the pre-Super Bowl airing of the Boom Boom Huckjam show, which is being shot Jan. 14 in Phoenix. The hour-long show will feature interviews with action sports stars such as Bucky Lasek and Carey Hart, as well as sports footage and previews of the summer tour. "We'll have a daylong presence on Fox on Super Bowl Sunday," said John Lewicky, director of sports alliances and sports marketing for McDonald's, noting the deal is a media play with signage and TV spots, including one during the football game's first half. "We're helping to sell tickets in Phoenix for the event." McDonald's will participate in Boom Boom Huckjam tour-related meet and greets and radio remotes, and brand the on-site sponsor area, called the BBHJ Street Corner Village. The marketer created a special Boom Boom Huckjam Happy Meal during a previous tour.
Big plans
Mr. Hawk has even bigger plans for future tours. Eventually, Mr. Hawk wants to take Boom Boom Huckjam internationally, creating a standing tour that can outlive his own skating life span. He's looking for global marketers to get involved. ~ ~ ~
Kate MacArthur contributed to this report.
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