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Volume 21 No. 27
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Tough Mudder adds Anheuser-Busch and Chipotle to 2015 sponsor lineup

Obstacle racing series Tough Mudder has added a lineup of mainstream brands to its list of corporate partners for 2015, highlighted by beer giant Anheuser-Busch and restaurant chain Chipotle.

In addition to A-B and Chipotle, Tough Mudder has signed new deals with supplement brand Cellucor, flooring company Mohawk Industries and global beverage distributor Britvic/Pepsi. The series has renewed existing deals with beef jerky brand Oberto and energy drink Muscle Monster.

Tough Mudder officials would not comment on financial details of the partnerships. Previous deals of this size have been valued in the low- to mid-six-figure range.

“These new [deals] speak to how we as a company have grown up and become more sophisticated,” said Will Dean, Tough Mudder’s founder and CEO. “We’re clearly about the active, healthy lifestyle, as well as not taking yourself too seriously.”

Dan Weinberg, Tough Mudder’s vice president of global partnerships, said the flurry of new signings and renewals represents the largest sponsorship haul in the company’s five-year history, from both a financial and activation standpoint.

Anheuser-Busch will brand the finish-line beer gardens at all 32 events in the U.S. and Canada, and promote its Shock Top line of wheat beer at the events. Chipotle will promote Tough Mudder at its restaurants with a sweepstakes that awards a trip for two to Australia. It also will build a taco bar at the finish line. Muscle Monster will hold a retail sweepstakes, which is still being finalized. Oberto will promote Tough Mudder with a national television spot featuring ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith.

The other brands will showcase their products and marketing material at Tough Mudder events.

“We felt aligned with the Tough Mudder brand, from both a fun and irreverence standpoint,” said Scott Robinson, manager of national events for Chipotle. “We’ve tracked Tough Mudder’s exponential growth over the last years and felt it was a good fit.”

The flurry of new deals piggybacks the company’s announcement that it has revamped its obstacles for 2015. Each Tough Mudder event is made up of 20 obstacles along a 10- to 12-mile course. The obstacles serve as branding space for partners.

New obstacle Crybaby simulates the sensation of tear gas; the Ring of Fire obstacle has participants slide down a fire pole, past a burst of flames, into a water pit; the King of Swingers has participants jump from an elevated platform onto a trapeze bar.

Dean said sponsor integration is key to the new obstacles. While details are still being finalized, the new obstacle activation will include photography, product integration and branding space.

“The partners add value to the obstacles,” Dean said. “It gives us a unique place in the industry.”

Fred Dreier is a writer in Colorado.