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Volume 21 No. 1
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Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Old Spice drop NASCAR

Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Old Spice became the latest brands to drop their official sponsorship of NASCAR ahead of the 2013 season, but Gillette plans to stay in the sport as an associate sponsor of the Target Chip Ganassi team.

The decision brings an end to Gillette’s 10-year run as the sport’s official shaving product. The brand signed its last deal with NASCAR four years ago and negotiated official sponsorships for fellow Procter & Gamble brands Head & Shoulders and Old Spice as part of the agreement.

Gillette’s efforts centered on its “Young Guns.”
Sources valued the deal in the low seven figures annually.

Gillette, Old Spice and Head & Shoulders join Office Depot, DirecTV, Featherlite Coaches and USG Corp. in ending their NASCAR official sponsorships ahead of the season. NASCAR last year renewed deals with Goodyear, MillerCoors, COPD, Featherlite Trailers, Chevrolet and Ford for this season.

Unlike Office Depot, which ended both its NASCAR sponsorship and its sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 car, Gillette plans to stay in NASCAR as an associate sponsor through the Target Chip Ganassi program on the No. 42 car.

“It’s not because [NASCAR] wasn’t working for us,” said Greg Via, Gillette’s global director of sports marketing. “We just had to make some really hard choices. [The Target Chip Ganassi relationship] is a way for us to get product moved through a retailer. That’s huge for us. It’s a way for us to stay in the sport, and we know the sport will continue to work for us.”

Gillette, which was acquired by P&G for $57 billion in 2009, has concentrated many of its sports marketing efforts on the NFL and the Olympics in recent years. P&G signed a deal with the NFL in 2009 and added a worldwide Olympic sponsorship in 2010. It also has a personal care agreement with MLB that Gillette and Head & Shoulders promote.

Those sponsorship commitments made it difficult for Gillette to extend its official NASCAR deal. The company made a big push into the sport in 2003 when it signed six drivers — Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman — and dubbed them the Gillette Young Guns.

It stuck with that program for eight years before cutting the number of drivers to two, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, and adding Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in 2011. The brand no longer endorses Hamlin or Busch. It will have a relationship with driver Juan Pablo Montoya through the Target Chip Ganassi Racing program.

“NASCAR works for brands that activate it well,” Via said. “We were not as good a partner as we could have been.”