SBJ/December 4 - 10, 2006/This Weeks News

Honeycomb cereal gets a little attitude

Post’s Honeycomb cereal has become the latest brand to jump into the action sports world, signing a one-year deal with a team of five pro snowboarders called The Collection.

The partnership makes the cereal the team’s top sponsor with a deal sources estimated at $300,000. The total spend with activation pushes it into the low seven figures.

Honeycomb gets the rights to the team’s marks, images and appearances by individual members — Ross Powers, Kelly Clark, Andy Finch, Luke Mitrani and Mason Aguirre — and a wrap on the team’s recreational vehicle, which appears at all major snowboard competitions.

The riders are some of the best in the sport. Powers and Clark won bronze and gold medals, respectively, at the 2002 Olympic Games, while Aguirre and Finch both competed in the 2006 Olympics. Mitrani became the youngest athlete to join the U.S. Snowboard team in 2002 at age 12.

They will all be featured on more than 10 million cereal boxes nationwide and on Post’s Web site, postopia.com. The site will include Web logs, video bios and photos of each of the team members.

Post also will roll out a 30-second commercial on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and offer a sweepstakes with private snowboard lessons from the team as a grand prize.

“Honeycomb is a brand that’s all about living big and taking advantage of all life has to offer and pursuing your dreams,” said Laurie Guzzinati, a spokeswoman for Kraft, which owns Post cereals. “The accomplishments of The Collection and their attitude is very close to what the brand personifies.”

The partnership offers The Collection more national exposure than its previous arrangement with Snickers, which did not leverage the team in retail or on TV. Instead, it limited its promotion of the team to branded tents at events, a wrap of the RV and a DVD of the team distributed in Transworld Snowboarding.

“When you can create a separate platform for these athletes to get into the mainstream beyond the Olympics, it’s a huge benefit,” said Octagon’s Peter Carlisle, who represents the athletes.

The deal also highlights the sustained strength of snowboarding, which garnered significant attention during the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

“Snowboarding is hot and everyone wants a piece of it,” said Issa Sawabini, a partner at Fuse, a youth marketing company.

The Collection formed in 2004 when Powers, Finch, Clark and fellow Olympian Gretchen Bleiler united to avoid the sponsorship limitations of the national team, which doesn’t allow companies competing with its sponsors to endorse athletes. They later invited Mitrani and Aguirre to join the team.

Bleiler has since left to rejoin the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

The team is negotiating with Nickelodeon regarding sponsorship for this season, according to John Arrix, whose marketing agency Arrix Sports represents the team. He said The Collection will add one to three additional sponsors for the 2006-07 season.

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