INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 10, 2006 -- The IndyCar Series will race into the new season with efforts to grow the sport, broaden its fan base and make more noise than ever before by announcing today that it has forged a unique marketing alliance with rock legend Gene Simmons and entertainment industry veteran Richard Abramson, principals in the Hollywood-based Simmons Abramson Marketing company. The broad-based agreement will see Simmons Abramson Marketing actively engaged in the league's marketing, event, public relations, sponsorship, merchandising and branding efforts -- from its IndyCar Series to the venerable Indianapolis 500.
Today's announcement of the partnership is highlighted with the debut of the "I Am Indy" campaign that is anchored by a signature song, co-authored by Simmons and BAG. The effort marks the first official theme song for a modern professional sport. With its growling affirmations and foot-stomping, "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" sensibility, the "I Am Indy" song forges a resonant link between the drivers and the IndyCar Series fans.
"Indy cars are rockets on the ground. These drivers are modern knights in shining armor, risking their lives at close to 225 mph," Simmons said. "'I Am Indy' speaks to the independent spirit in all of us."
Besides the IndyCar Series' pure speeds and the drama of all-out competition, Simmons Abramson Marketing recognizes myriad other assets they will leverage in the coming months, including young stars Dan Wheldon (who in 2005 became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series titles in the same season in league history), Danica Patrick (the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500, finishing fourth, the highest placing by a female driver), Sam Hornish (a two-time series champion) as well as stalwarts like Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Buddy Rice.
It was the outside-the-box approach of both Simmons and Abramson that impressed IRL officials when they met at several racing events last year.
"The IndyCar Series is about thrilling racing, championship endeavors, diversity, talent and skill," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer for the Indy Racing League. "Simmons Abramson shares our excitement in the IndyCar Series and we look forward to working with Gene and Rich in communicating an attitude of daring, courage and the pursuit of the ultimate achievement in motorsports, victory at the Indianapolis 500. We are all about the focal point that brings all of us together in our mutual and individual pursuits of success -- Indy. And Indy carries over to each and every event on the schedule; on and off the track."
In the coming weeks, more details on the league's marketing campaign and the key components surrounding "I Am Indy" will be revealed.
IRL fans and others may be surprised that the league's marketing efforts will be linked with Gene Simmons, who is better known for his blood-spitting antics as "the demon of KISS." However, the entertainment business world has long recognized Simmons' business acumen as evidenced by his upcoming Jan. 17 keynote speech at Branded Entertainment Magazine's "Next Big Idea, West: The Future of Branded Entertainment."
"IndyCar Series races are far and away the most exciting events in the world, and this message will be driven boldly to every corner of the globe," Abramson said.
In conjunction with Simmons Abramson Marketing, the Indy Racing League has engaged the support of B|W|R, a Los Angeles-based public relations agency, to front-line position our drivers and teams as celebrities, athletes, compelling personalities whose stories will be richly and repeatedly told in television, radio, print and new media.
Simmons co-founded KISS 32 years ago. KISS has broken box office records around the world set by Elvis and The Beatles, has more gold records than any other American band (RIAA, 2003), and for three decades continues to be the juggernaut of licensing and merchandising, with over 2,500 licenses. Along with relationships with Holiday Inn, Nike, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola and Universal Hotels, KISS has KISS Visa cards, Canon KISS cameras (Japan), KISS comic's books and, among other projects, the upcoming KISS cartoon show from Warner Bros. Outside of KISS, Simmons discovered Van Halen, managed Liza Minnelli's recording career, produced New Line Pictures' Detroit Rock City, created the hit Nickelodeon cartoon "My Dad The Rock Star" (seen in 24 countries), created the Oxygen series smash "Mr. Romance" and has two TV series: VH1's "Gene Simmons' Rock School" and A&E's forthcoming "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels," among a dozen other TV projects such as "Trophy Wife" (New Line TV). Author of two New York Times best-sellers, KISS and Makeup (Crown Books) and Sex Money KISS (Simmons/Phoenix Books), he has published his own magazine, Gene Simmons Tongue (Sterling MacFadden) and is debuting a new magazine, Gene Simmons Game. He heads his own publishing imprint, Simmons Books (with Phoenix Books), has a DVD label, Simmons Audio Visual, and has a record label, Simmons Records. Simmons has co-starred in such movies as Runaway and Wanted Dead Or Alive, acted in television programs such as "Third Watch" and "Miami Vice," co-hosted NBC's "Extra," served as a guest judge on Fox's "American Idol" and been on NBC's "The Apprentice."
Abramson, in a nearly three-decade career, has distinguished himself as a savvy marketer, talent manager, film producer and innovative financier. In the 1980s he waged the marketing campaigns, on behalf of major studios such as Universal and Warner Bros., for many major film releases. His management of Paul Reubens energized the actor's portrayal of Pee-wee Herman, developing the character into a multimillion dollar merchandising powerhouse through such movies as Pee-wee's Big Adventure and Big Top Pee-wee (which he produced and executive produced, respectively), as well as his producing role on the 22-time Emmy-winning children's series "Pee-Wee's Playhouse." He also executive produced one of the most iconic "inside Hollywood" films, The Big Picture. In 1995 Abramson pioneered a new way to underwrite the costs of producing and distributing films through efficacy insurance policies. His creation of a broader, $125 million prints and advertising (P&A) facility, the first of its kind, inspired a wave of insurance-backed financings which eventually became an industry standard.
The IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway; the race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.