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Volume 23 No. 17
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A most effective partnership? Don’t mention it

“We’re all really stoked.”

That’s not a review that most athletes would give when asked to assess the business metrics of a corporate partnership that he is forbidden to talk about on game day.

Prior to the beginning of the AMA 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season, Los Angeles-based CBD company Ignite signed a one-year sponsorship deal with rider Dean Wilson. But as Wilson was practicing on the track in the days leading up to the season-opening Anaheim 1 at Angel Stadium in early January, the company’s logos on Wilson’s bike and apparel triggered some concerns at Feld Entertainment, the circuit’s operator, and NBC, its broadcast partner.

Dean Wilson signed a one-year deal with Ignite, leading to an increase in the company’s brand awareness.
Photo: mx vice
Dean Wilson signed a one-year deal with Ignite, leading to an increase in the company’s brand awareness.
Photo: mx vice
Dean Wilson signed a one-year deal with Ignite, leading to an increase in the company’s brand awareness.
Photo: mx vice

A chemical in marijuana, CBD does not cause a high and is often sold as a dietary supplement or included in creams and other personal care products. CBD isn’t legal in a lot of states, Wilson said, so he was forced to put tape over the logo on race day.

The AMA quickly issued a set of guidelines that allows riders to sign such deals and activate on social media, but forbids any form of race-day exposure, including verbal mentions on TV.

But Wilson, who said he gets drug tested “all the time,” said that Ignite has told him that the partnership has directly led to an increase in the company’s brand awareness and in the sales of its products.

The number of people following Wilson’s social media channels grew 13% since the season began in January, according to SBJ analysis of Hookit data.

“But it’s not just about selling the product,” he said. “It’s about raising awareness of the benefits of CBD.”