Sony sponsors professional race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., a self-proclaimed gadget-geek and online racing gamer, has signed a personal endorsement deal with Sony. Earnhardt will serve as a spokesperson for Sony's games, high-definition televisions, cameras and Blu-Ray players and movies.
Thayer Lavielle, the Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development at Earnhardt's JR Motorsports, sees the new promotional deals, including an agreement with shoe manufacturer Adidas, as a sign of Earnhardt reaching new audiences. "I don't think we're trying to reposition him; I think we're evolving with him. He has grown a lot as a person since his rookie season, and as he matures, we have to grow his brand with companies that are authentic to who he is. ... There's so much opportunity with the news. But we also have to take a hard look at it. We don't want to oversaturate. It's not about who can throw the most money at us. Dale has to be behind it in a way that this is a product that I really love."
"His love for our products was a big benefit. I know he was really excited to get his hands on a lot of our games," said Stuart Redsun, Sony's Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing.
The future of Earnhardt's other sponsors, most notably Budweiser, is in question. Marketing agency Millsports executive Mike Bartelli discussed Earnhardt's marketing direction. "Dale Jr. is moving out of their laser-target demo. While he still speaks to guys in their mid-20s, he's moving away from that. A lot of people would say it's a given that Budweiser would never sacrifice all the equity they've built up in him, but they're going to have to at some point. If they're true to the brand, they can't affiliate with Dale Jr. forever."
Source: USA Today