Izod and Macy’s are set to rev up a major merchandising and marketing program centered on Izod’s sponsorship of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The initiative includes a line of specially designed Izod apparel that will hit 139 Macy’s stores at the end of March and a multimillion-dollar integrated marketing program tied to the beginning of the racing season in April that includes national broadcast commercials, print advertising, cinema spots, outdoor and special events.

This story first appeared in the March 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“This program will bring excitement to the entire Izod space,” said Malcolm Robinson, group president of sportswear at Izod parent Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. “This is about associating the brand with a growing cultural phenomenon. Not only are we introducing great racing-themed product, we’re expecting to get lift on the entire business because of it.”

Izod signed on as the apparel sponsor of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Logan Gomez, last summer, and has been dressing all league personnel and officials for the past year. This season marks the first time consumers will be offered the Indy Racing apparel, which uses graphics and insignia from the sport’s storied past — particularly those of the Speedway, home of the Indy 500, which is celebrating its centennial this year.

The initial collection includes graphic T-shirts ($36), polos ($65), zippered track jackets ($130) and hats ($30).

To support the rollout, Izod will air 30-second commercials on the six IndyCar Series events broadcast nationally on ABC, as well as cable and local spot commercials for other races. Print ads will run in Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine in April, as well as in The New York Times.

Prior to each of the 15 IndyCar Series races between April and October, Izod and Macy’s will ramp up cinema and local television advertising in that market, highlighting special events at select stores in the area. Each event will be tailored to a Macy’s store and may include driver appearances, a fan zone with vintage racing cars and driver outfits, or a “pit stop challenge” where customers can change the wheels on an Indy car. The kickoff in-store events will be held April 1 in Saint Petersburg, Fla., leading up to the season’s first race there on April 5.

“We think the racing product is terrific, but what really impressed us about this program was the robust marketing campaign that can really drive traffic at a local level,” said Marc Mastronardi, group vice president and divisional merchandise manager for men’s sportswear at Macy’s. “Many of the races are in secondary markets, so it’s a great way to bring a lot of energy to stores that aren’t just in New York or San Francisco or Miami.”

Macy’s is the exclusive U.S. retail partner with Izod in this initiative, save for Bon-Ton stores in Des Moines and Milwaukee, due to a lack of Macy’s locations in those markets. In Canada, Izod is working with Hudson’s Bay in connection with races in Toronto and Edmonton.

“Leveraging the appeal of Indy Racing felt right for the Izod brand because it’s fast, active and outdoors,” said Michael Kelly, executive vice president of marketing at PVH. “Connecting with consumers — especially 25- to 35-year-old males — through sports is central to our strategy, and IndyCar racing is colorful, sexy and exciting.”