Hydroxycut wins big with Indy 500 sponsorship 

What big race wins can mean for brand sponsors like Hydroxycut. Photo: Indycar

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2013 —  Hydroxycut is the new Indy 500® champion. The best-selling weight loss supplement brand in America, took top honors last month at the 2013 Indy 500® in Indianapolis, IN. Driver Tony Kanaan, a fan favorite, crossed the finish line under a yellow flag for his first Indy 500win.  

Hydroxycut reached a deal this March to be primary sponsor for nine races. In addition to the Indy 500 - by far the most visible race in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The major sponsorship deal with KV-SH Racing was a leap of faith. Kanaan, a successful veteran in the series, had not won in his first eleven tries.

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The dramatic race set a new record with over 14 leaders and 68 lead changes. The crowd of 200,000-plus fans wildly cheered Kanaan’s victory. Winning the high-profile race pays major and lasting dividends for a sponsor. 

Hydroxycut is a freshman IndyCar sponsor and has a two-year deal to sponsor the KV-SH Racing team; this was the first Indy 500 event for Hydroxycut. “To win the Indy 500® with fantastic partners like Tony Kanaan and KV-SH Racing is an awesome victory for the Hydroxycut™ brand,” said Iovate Health Sciences CMO Vito Sanzone, “Our brand image is about succeeding and winning - so Sunday’s performance fits right in!” Hydroxycut is the #1 selling weight loss supplement brand in America, offering a wide variety of products that help people reach their weight loss goals when combined with diet and exercise. “The Hydroxycut brand has been around for 17 years for a reason. It’s a brand you can trust and it really works,” added Sanzone. 

It can be argued that IndyCar averaged about 5.7 million viewers during its televised run, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ESPN Communications. 

Kevin Thomas, Vice President of Strategic Marketing for Roush Fenway Racing, explains why performance is key to sponsors. Thomas says, “Sports marketing platforms deliver benefits to brands that become so much greater when the performance is there. Roush Fenway is the winningest team in NASCAR® – and that is a fundamental piece of the value proposition we deliver for our partners. Of course success brings increased media attention and greater fan excitement and consumer attention – but it also creates a better story to tell for the brands involved. We just finished a promotion with one of our partners where the focus was driving traffic to a website connected directly to driver’s performance in a race, and because that connected directly to the passion points for the audience, the company saw a 600% lift in traffic for the month. We have a relationship now with a partner who had been in the sport for years without ever visiting victory lane, and right out of the gate we were able to win a race with them. The very next day their view on the relationship and what the program could deliver for them took on a whole new meaning, because they were seeing opportunities they had never seen before.”

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The success of Hydroxycut is rare and astounding, winning the Indy 500 in their first participation as a sponsor. Millions of impressions and the ability to enhance their brand story are the results of sponsoring a winning driver. It is what every sponsor dreams of when they get involved with a race team. 

Tim Moore, CEO of Crush IQ, explains sponsorship from the opposite perspective. Moore says, “Working closely with NASCAR® teams over the past few years, we have seen some teams continue to struggle on the track and this has led to even fewer sponsors feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ about investing in them. When the team is not winning, and the driver is grumpy (or not very friendly), it’s pretty easy to draw a line to lost dollars unless the ROI is simply exposure. In the C-level of sponsors, as much as they love the sport, they love a clear return more. Any internal ‘struggle’ as to what to do (sponsor or not) is an easy choice, they don’t.

When it’s right, though, the juice is worth the squeeze. “On the other hand, the situation is much more compelling and valuable when you have a team that is highly competitive, is winning, and has well-spoken and likable drivers who understand that their sponsors (whether for the whole season, or just a few specific races at tracks in regions where their brand is strong or looking to get a greater stronghold) are paying the bills, and the drivers focus on supporting those brands with pride. This has been our experience in working closely with Roush Fenway Racing.”

Success allows for new promotional opportunities, especially in emerging media. “Most recently, Roush Fenway Racing has lapped the other race teams by efforts to engage with their fans online, not just with tweets, but more rich experiences like live video hangouts and visiting with fans. This isn’t just the drivers, but all the way to the top with team owner Jack Roush. This ground breaking effort led to Roush Fenway Racing winning the Social Media Icon Award for 2013 by PR News for ‘the best use of Google+’.” 

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There is calculated risk in being a sponsor. There are 32 sponsors that don’t win the Indy 500® every year, more than don’t even qualify. Like Ricky Bobby said, “If you’re not first, you’re last.”  

Hydroxycut is the big winner of the Indy 500®. They won their first sponsored Indy 500 race, an iconic race with millions of viewers. More importantly, they can capitalize on that success and include it in their marketing, branding and promotions. 

 Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and record holder for Most Strikeouts in Tee-Ball. 


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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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