SBJ/May 6-12, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Indy 500 winner Castroneves waltzes over to Elevation Group

Indy 500 and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Helio Castroneves has hired The Elevation Group to represent him for marketing opportunities.

The Brazilian open-wheel champion has known Elevation founder Denny Young for more than a decade and approached him late last year about handling his marketing business. He is the first driver that Young has represented since 2003.
The business partners first got to know each other in the early 2000s when Young represented Castroneves’ former teammate at Penske Racing, Gil de Ferran.

Castroneves
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
“When he was with my teammate 10 years ago, he was able to get some endorsements,” said Castroneves, who has been without an agency since 2008 when he left Andre Agassi’s longtime agent, Perry Rogers. “If you know my teammate, Gil de Ferran, if he got something for that guy, which is a hard sell, hopefully it will be an easy thing to get done [with me].”

Young already has landed one personal-service agreement for Castroneves. Royal Caribbean International signed him to promote its new ship, Quantum of the Seas. Castroneves is featured in a digital video and 30-second TV spot alongside Emmy Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth and former “Seinfeld” star Estelle Harris.

The goal is to land Castroneves four more “anchor partners,” Young said. As a driver with Penske Racing, Castroneves also has relationships with Chevrolet, Verizon, Hitachi, Izod, Shell and other brands.

“I am focused on relationships that step beyond the racetrack,” Young said. “That sounds like something someone would say in my position, but because Helio’s celebrity steps way outside the racing world and he is a regular in People magazine and other places, he becomes a different guy to take to market.”

Castroneves ranks in the middle of the pack in awareness among 2,900 celebrities tracked in the Davie Brown Index, a database that determines a celebrity’s ability to influence consumers. He ranks around the same level in awareness as NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch and IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti.

His profile has risen since 2007 when he won the fifth season of “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC. He was partnered with Julianne Hough, who went on to become the star of the recent remake of the movie “Footloose.” On the track, Castroneves said he is aiming to become the fourth driver in history to win four Indy 500 races.

If he’s able to do that, Young says that his appeal as an endorser will increase even further.

“It’s my opinion that over the last 15 years this [IndyCar] champion has been one of the most under-marketed sports champions in the world, and he’s accomplished so much in racing and outside racing,” Young said. “With the proper support and backing, the sky’s the limit for him.”

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