SBJ/May 14-20, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Dutch brand signs deals in triathlon, cycling

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Netherlands is best known for chocolate and beer, but Dutch company Aquadraat hopes to add high-performance sports water to the list.

The Amsterdam-based company has signed a global deal that includes the World Triathlon Corp., the New York City Triathlon, Colorado’s U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge and the USA Cycling Professional Championships in Greenville, S.C.

A source pegged the multiyear deal in the low seven figures overall. The Ironman and New York City Triathlon partnerships were negotiated by Wasserman Media Group.

Marcel Ter Stege, Aquadraat’s CEO, said the deal is the first major sports marketing play in the company’s nine-year history, and will showcase its newest product, Aquadraat Sport, which hits shelves in July.

“We have a good opportunity to build a good distribution network in the U.S.,” Ter Stege said. “The U.S. is the best market for us because people expect the best quality and they will invest in the best quality.”

Aquadraat’s activation centers on becoming the official water partner at the events. Aquadraat will distribute water and receive marketing rights at the World Triathlon Corp.’s 154 global races — including the entire Ironman and 70.3 triathlon series. It also will become title sponsor of the WTC’s newest event, the Aug. 11 USA Ironman Championships in New York City.

Erik Vervloet, chief marketing officer for the World Triathlon Corp., said selling the title sponsorship to its debut Ironman in New York City was a major objective. “I wanted to have a title for New York, but of course I didn’t want to get desperate,” he said. “So for a company that wants global positioning to take that space, I could sleep well at night.”

The WTC has never had a global water sponsor. A WTC representative said water traditionally was included in larger nutrition deals, such as the 2010-11 U.S. deal with Nestlé, which promoted its PowerBar, Ironman Perform sports drink and Power Gel products at U.S. races. Nestlé still owns the domestic sports drink category with Ironman Perform, but the WTC has sold the nutrition and gel categories to other partners.

Shawn Hunter, CEO of the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge, said segmentation shows maturation in the endurance sports market. Aquadraat will distribute water at Hunter’s seven-day professional race, as well as at four affiliated amateur-only cycling events.

“In the old days a Coke or a Pepsi would tie up everything liquid other than beer and wine,” Hunter said. “I think those days are gone now. ”

Fred Dreier is a writer based in New York.



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