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Volume 23 No. 23
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Fabric care brands set to get dirty with MLB

Major League Baseball last week signed Church & Dwight, which markets Arm & Hammer and OxiClean fabric care products, to a three-year sponsorship deal. C&D also signed separate team sponsorships with the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds. The latter two teams are of note because they are hosting the next two MLB All-Star Games. C&D Chairman and CEO Jim Craigie spoke to staff writer Terry Lefton in the MLB offices about the rationale behind the deals.

Sponsorship marketing is unusual for your company. What was the catalyst for the MLB deal?

Jim Craigie’s Church & Dwight markets Arm & Hammer and OxiClean.

CRAIGIE: We started thinking about sports three years ago. I was involved in sports from my time [as CEO] with Spalding and Top-Flite. We tied in with [naming rights] for the Trenton Thunder and they won the championship. So we were looking to take it to the next level and were looking for a sport that covered most of the year, talked to the whole family and was something people play most of their life — you can’t do that with football. … Our biggest brands are Arm & Hammer and OxiClean. They are all about fabric care. It was easy to imagine commercials with kids sliding into second base, dirtying up their uniforms and getting them clean with Arm & Hammer or OxiClean. … We have rights in oral care, pet care and laundry, but you’ll see us focus mostly on fabric care.

Is this about getting retailers excited or tapping into consumer passions?

CRAIGIE: A bit of both. We want to delight consumers when they know the two great brands are tied together, and the retailers love it because baseball is an iconic American institution that should get traffic into their store. Our Arm & Hammer brand has been growing at double-digit rates, but we were looking for the next thing to grow the brand. The time of year, the fact that women attend more MLB games than all other sports combined, and that women are major buyers of our brands, I think makes this a winning combination.

Which shared brand equities will make this work?

CRAIGIE: Baseball is about the family going out, having fun, and clothes getting dirty. As far as fabric care, I could show you so many letters we’ve received where consumers say my kid came home from the baseball game with stains you couldn’t believe and your product was the answer.

Sales are an obvious metric, but which other criteria will you look at when you are evaluating this deal?

CRAIGIE: We’ll look at whether consumers believe what we did is a natural fit and something that reinforces the equities of cleaning and stain fighting. We do tracking studies all the time and we’ll be looking at whether consumers think it is appropriate. I think it’s a no-brainer. This isn’t a niche sport. We have all-American brands used in every household and this [MLB] is an all-American property.