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DATE News (chronologically)
01/27/07
nascar
NASCAR trying to save att/Cingular sponsorship  UPDATE #3 "We are still working closely with the folks at RCR," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's vice president of racing operations. "We are in the process of working with them. They understand the rules that we have in our partnership with Nextel. We are positive we will be able to come to an amicable relationship with those guys and look forward to 2007."

When NASCAR struck its deal with Nextel, team owners complained the telecommunications sponsorship ban was far too restrictive. O'Donnell said NASCAR is sensitive to owners' needs.

"At the end of the day, we need team sponsors," O'Donnell said. "The team realizes that and NASCAR realizes that."

Childress, a longtime friend of NASCAR's ruling France family and former car owner for the late Dale Earnhardt, isn't one to air his dirty laundry in public. But he doesn't want to be left scrambling to find a new sponsor on short notice, either.

"All that's being handled right now with NASCAR," Childress said. "I can't really comment on it. It's just (up to) NASCAR right now. Nextel's a great series sponsor, and we can work this thing out."

But they haven't told you no, right?

"All I can say is they're working it out now," Childress said.

Burton said his sponsor wants to stay put -- if allowed to.

"We have a sponsor that wants to be involved in the sport, and they want to try to find a way to do it," Burton said. "They're extremely committed to being part of it, and it's going to require some finesse." Sporting News

01/16/07 Jeff Burton said sponsor Cingular would like to stay in the sport and is looking at ways to remain a car sponsor while changing its name to AT&T. When Nextel signed the title sponsorship for NASCAR's premier series in June 2003, it grandfathered in Cingular and Alltel as team sponsors. It prohibited other telecommunication companies from becoming team sponsors and prohibited any moves by Cingular and Alltel to other teams or, in case of a merger or name change, to a new brand. With Cingular's merger with AT&T and the Cingular name being phased out, the sponsorship of the #31 Richard Childress Racing team and Burton is up in the air because AT&T cannot be branded on the car. Cingular is in its final year of its deal with RCR. "I can tell you that Cingular is extremely excited about their involvement with AT&T," Burton said Monday. "I can tell you that they're extremely excited about being involved in this sport. They love their sponsorship opportunity and they're going to do everything in their power to continue it. It's an interesting situation to be in, and time will tell exactly what happens. But from a marketing standpoint, it certainly is going to require some creativity and it's going to require some interesting strategies. But they're committed to doing what it takes to make it work, and I'm confident that they will." SceneDaily.com

01/13/07 AT&T Inc. will begin next week to extinguish the brand of cell phone operator Cingular to imprint its more-than-century-old name firmly across its services. AT&T (Charts), which took full control of No. 1 U.S. mobile carrier Cingular with its $86 billion purchase of BellSouth Corp. last month, will launch a campaign Monday to mark the change. In its first stage, Cingular will share its orange logo of a bouncing jack with the AT&T globe logo on everything from television ads to sales uniforms and monthly bills. AT&T's name and logo will eventually replace Cingular in a process expected to take several months, with the exact timing determined as more customer feedback comes in, Wendy Clark, vice president of advertising at AT&T, said. One new ad will portray a familiar Cingular image - grain harvesters mowing a field to represent "bars" showing maximum cell phone reception. But in a new take, the harvesters will change direction and mow the AT&T globe out of the stalks. The new AT&T was formed in the merger of SBC Communications and AT&T Corp. in late 2005. Adding to the mix, in late 2004 Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, eradicating that brand because of its poor reputation among customers. CNN

01/10/07 Cingular's sponsorship contract with Richard Childress Racing expires at the end of the 2007 season, but the Cingular name will expire before then, leaving the branding of the No. 31 car driven by Jeff Burton up in the air, according to a story in this week's NASCAR Scene.

With the Bell South-AT&T merger approved Dec. 29, AT&T has announced that it is phasing out the Cingular name and replacing it with AT&T. That's a problem for RCR's No. 31 team because it cannot change the name on the hood of the car. When Nextel became NASCAR's top series sponsor in 2004, the sponsorship agreement grandfathered in existing team-sponsor telecommunications relationships, but it does not permit any changes.

Sprint Nextel's Dean Kessel confirmed that remains the group's position Jan. 3. "Nothing has changed as far as that goes," said Kessel, who directs the Nextel Cup sponsorship. "As long as that car stays the way it is, there is not an issue to talk about. If they're considering a change, then there are things to talk about. Our agreement ... is it has got to remain the way it is now. Once it changes, that changes the game."

Cingular spokesman Clay Owen would not speculate about the future of the sponsorship. Scenedaily.com

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