SBJ/20090105/This Week's News

Trio getting Gatorade into action sports

While energy drinks and soda brands have long been attached to action sports, Gatorade has stepped up to become the first isotonic beverage sponsor of action sports athletes and properties. The brand has begun a push into action sports by signing three athletes, including 14-year-old skateboarding phenom Chaz Ortiz.

The brand signed a multiyear deal with Ortiz that sources valued in the low to mid-six figures annually. He will be the cornerstone of Gatorade’s action sports campaign and will be featured alongside its marquee athletes, including Derek Jeter, Dwyane Wade and Peyton Manning.

The brand also signed smaller deals with snowboarder Ellery Hollingsworth, a 17-year-old from Darien, Conn., and BMX star Nigel Sylvester, an 18-year-old from Queens, N.Y. The athletes will be featured in Gatorade’s action sports campaigns, which are being planned. Terms of those deals were not available.

Fourteen-year-old skateboarder Ortiz will get airtime
alongside bluechip Gatorade endorsers such as
Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning.
(Above) Chaz Ortiz, (inset top) Nigel Sylvester,
(inset bottom) Ellery Hollingsworth
Gatorade’s action roster
Athlete Age Sport Agency Agent
Chaz Ortiz 14 Skateboarding Wasserman Media Group Circe Wallace
Ellery Hollingsworth 17 Snowboarding Mosaic Sports Management Susan Izzo
Nigel Sylvester 18 BMX Wasserman Media Group Brad Lusky
Source: SportsBusiness Journal

Ortiz, Hollingsworth and Sylvester are the first skateboard, snowboard and BMX signings in Gatorade’s history. They will be the cornerstones of a broader expansion by the brand into action sports that is expected to include deals with properties, as well.

Previously, Gatorade’s involvement in action sports was limited to motocross, where it was a partner of Ricky Carmichael, James “Bubba” Stewart and Travis Pastrana earlier this decade.

Gatorade’s entrance into skateboarding, snowboarding and BMX makes it the first isotonic beverage in a sports landscape dominated by energy drinks and soda brands. It will join fellow PepsiCo brand Mountain Dew in a battle for attention alongside Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar energy drinks.

Jeff Urban, Gatorade’s senior vice president of sports marketing, said the brand is developing its action sports strategy and expects to have it completed over the next five weeks.

“We’re not ready to talk about the depth and breadth of what we’re doing, but we’re going to be invested in the sport and a bit more visible across a number of platforms,” Urban said. “As a leader, we want action sports athletes to see themselves in our brand. It’s an important part of our expansion.”

Ortiz, who is from the Chicago area, will play a major role in whatever the brand does, Urban said. The skateboarder saw his stock rise after he won the 2008 Dew Cup last October by beating Paul Rodriguez and three-time champ Ryan Sheckler in the skateboard park competition. He’ll be featured in campaigns tailored for action sports enthusiasts and in marketing materials alongside Gatorade’s larger family of athletes.

The deal is the skateboarder’s first non-endemic partnership. Ortiz also has deals with DC Shoes for footwear and Zoo York for apparel and skateboards. His agent, Circe Wallace of Wasserman Media Group, said she doesn’t anticipate adding other sponsors to his portfolio because of his age.

“Gatorade has been very strategic and aligned themselves with some great talent in the past,” Wallace said. “It’s an honor for Chaz to be selected by them to be [one of the] first athletes they promote in the space.”

Gatorade’s Kenny Mitchell will manage the brand’s action sports portfolio. He is working with Fuse Marketing of Vermont, which also works with Mountain Dew.

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