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

Go with it: Charmin taking ‘skid marks’ message to Charlotte NASCAR races

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Charmin wants skid marks to be contained to the racetrack. Or at least that’s the idea behind its sponsorship of this month’s Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600.

Charmin has signed a deal with Charlotte Motor Speedway to sponsor the two NASCAR events, and as part of the deal the Procter & Gamble toilet paper brand plans to hang banners outside the speedway and signs along pit road that tout Charmin Ultra Strong. The billboard-sized exterior banners will feature the backside of white, men’s briefs with tire skid marks down them.

One of the banners will face the speedway’s fan zone outside Turn 1; the other will hang on the suite facade facing N.C. Highway 29, which runs outside the speedway. Charmin’s deal also includes 45 TV-visible signs along pit road during both races.

Charmin will be running a social media campaign with #TweetFromTheSeat, which is part of its ongoing Twitter efforts, and sampling its Ultra Strong product near the bathrooms at the fan zone. Its mascot, a red bear, will be roaming the campgrounds throughout the day of the all-star race.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t available.

The idea of promoting Charmin at a NASCAR race came from the brand’s creative agency, Publicis Kaplan Thaler. The agency has taken an irreverent approach in its promotion of Charmin and recently touted its relationship with the brand in Ad Age by saying, “We think about poop and toilet paper all day, every day. And we love it.”

The creative team was in the process of developing new creative around Charmin’s Ultra Strong line and wanted to raise awareness of the brand’s reputation as a plush but strong product capable of preventing skid marks for children in the early stages of potty training. They thought NASCAR, which has a history of having drivers create skid marks to celebrate victories, offered a natural tie and a large fan base that would allow it to amplify its marketing message.

GMR Marketing, which works with P&G, approached several racetracks with the promotional idea and ultimately settled on Charlotte Motor Speedway because it has two Sprint Cup events over back-to-back weekends (May 18 and May 26).

CMS liked the idea and wiped clean its most high-profile signage on pit road for the deal.

“It’s a creative use of their product with a natural tie-in to the sport. It’s fun,” said Dan Farrell, CMS’s senior vice president of corporate sales. “It’s important to have recall with creative, and I’m sure there will be a buzz and the recall will be second to none for this.”

While the Charmin sponsorship and promotion may toe the line of some people’s good taste, it is far less controversial than the deal CMS’s sister track, Texas Motor Speedway, recently cut with the NRA. Both tracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., and the NRA 500, which was held last month, garnered national media coverage because of the ongoing debate about gun control in the U.S.

In addition to selling a two-race sponsorship to Charmin, CMS sold a sponsorship to Sun Products’ Snuggle and All laundry detergents. The brands will provide a tented “laundry” lounge in the campground during the Sprint All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 race weekends. The lounge will host corn hole games, a happy hour and an appearance by driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Campers will be able to have laundry done for free at the lounge, as well.

The deal came through the Target Chip Ganassi Racing program, which includes the Snuggle and All brands. Target ran a promotion in the campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway last year that helped boost sales at nearby stores by 28 percent, Farrell said, and that prompted Snuggle and All to approach the speedway about doing something in the campgrounds this year.

“It’s about touching campers,” Farrell said.
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