SBJ/20090323/This Week's News

Gatorade’s name on amateur tour

Gatorade’s reinvention of its brand is taking it to new heights, as the company increases its presence in action sports by becoming the first title sponsor of Alli Sports’ amateur series, the Free Flow Tour.

The series, which has discovered current professionals like BMX rider Mike Spinner and skateboarder Chaz Ortiz, will become known as the Gatorade Free Flow Tour as part of a two-year deal that sources valued in the low seven figures. In addition to the title sponsorship, Gatorade receives activation rights at 50 summer competitions and 10 winter competitions, and it becomes the brand behind three half-hour shows about the Free Flow Tour on Fuel TV and will back a series of video shorts from the tour that will be featured on Fuel.tv and allisports.com.

Alli Sports’ Gatorade Free Flow Tour
has produced action sports pros.

The partnership completes Gatorade’s push into action sports, which began in December when it signed three athletes: skateboarder Ortiz, snowboarder Ellery Hollingsworth and BMX rider Nigel Sylvester. Jeff Urban, Gatorade’s senior vice president of sports marketing, said the company opted to sign a deal with a grassroots property like the Free Flow Tour because it provided entree to skate parks and the opportunity to develop authenticity with action sports athletes.

“We belong in this space, but if you go in shouting first and proving yourself later, you’ll find yourself on the sideline,” Urban said. “We wanted to go in with the right messaging and prove that we’re part of the discipline.”

The sponsorship adds another blue-chip company to the sponsorship roster at Alli Sports, the company behind the Dew Tour, Maloof Money Cup and King of Wake. It also marks the transition of the Free Flow Tour from a grassroots marketing vehicle into a revenue-generating event and enables the tour to launch its first winter series of amateur competitions.

“This is something we wanted to grow but needed the resources to do so,” said Alli Sports President Wade Martin.

Since its inception in 2006, the Free Flow Tour has tried to find top skaters and BMX riders by visiting skateparks nationwide. Local skateparks and skateshops combined to host the events, which are open to competitors 18 and younger. The winner of the series of competitions earns the chance to compete against professionals on the Dew Tour. So far, it has discovered Spinner, who finished second overall in BMX park in the Dew Tour in 2008, and Ortiz, who won the 2008 Dew Cup in skate park.

Video footage of this summer’s tour will be captured by Vice, the company behind VBS.tv. The footage will be packaged into 16 short-form videos and branded by Gatorade before being made available on Fuel.tv and allisports.com. Those vignettes will air on Fuel TV’s “Daily Habit.” There also will be three half-hour shows about the tour on Fuel TV that will be repeated 30 times during the year.

The brand has spent the last three months reinventing itself behind a new “G” logo and marketing campaign, and the move into action sports is designed to broaden the reach of its new branding.

“We’re trying to give all athletes a chance to see themselves in the brand, and this goes to reinforce that,” Urban said of the Free Flow Tour sponsorship. “Athletes aren’t all stick-and-ball athletes, and this is a further expression of that.”

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