Shaun White Gets Behind The Wheel For BFGoodrich

shaunwhiteShaun White, Olympic medalist, uber-decorated X Games athlete, and superhuman practitioner of all things skate or snowboard, may just take up auto racing next. White has signed a multi-year deal with BFGoodrich Tires, the first such program the company has ever done at this level. The effort is part of the tire company's new "Upgrade to BFGoodrich" campaign starting up this week at the ESPN Winter X Games 15 in Aspen, Colo.

The program, via The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., centers on a series of documentary-style Internet videos at BFGoodrichTires.com/ShaunWhite in which White gets trained in competitive driving by BFGoodrich specialists and professional drivers known as "TeamBFG."

The idea, says Jamey Fish, director of consumer experience for the Greeneville, S.C.-based company, is that White is learning how to upgrade his driving performance and that any driver can do the same just by switching out to BFGoodrich tires. "In terms of the target, it's really anyone who enjoys thrills -- and that would include auto enthusiasts and gearheads; the overall message is BFGoodrich is all about helping drivers upgrade."

The ads will run on ESPN coverage of the X Games of which BFGoodrich Tires is an official sponsor. The company also has a fixed signage and jumbotron spots at the event. Print ads will run in ESPN The Magazine, while digital ads will be on ESPN.com and ESPN3.com.

"We have worked with lots of [professional racers] in more formal ways, but this is the first multi-year program, and the first with a non-auto racing athlete," says Fish, who adds that the idea of putting White into a race-training series was something White came up with when the parties were hammering out sponsorship specifics.

"We brought this to White because we felt his personality and what he stands for is a great fit for our brand and what we do," Fish tells Marketing Daily. "It just popped for him because he loves cars, he has his own collection, but also is the first to admit he's not an expert. In the midst of those conversations we had with him, he said, 'I'd love to get some training.'"

Fish says that White will continue to train with TeamBFG through the spring and may compete as a driver in the summer X Games. "Is he going to get into the race? It's yet to be seen but it's possible, though right now it's not the plan."

The BFGoodrich homepage has been redesigned to feature White on the splash page, and Fish says White will also exploit social media to talk about the process, tweeting about his experiences and posting on Facebook.

The campaign focuses on two major consumer touchpoints, according to Fish. "When we did our homework on this, we learned that when it comes to the point where people need new cars, the first place they go is the Internet; people do two to six hours online studying before purchase. So we have invested a lot to improve the online experience."

He says the company is also launching a new Web site that has a new palette of tire-selection intended to simplify the process of researching and choosing tires. There is also a retail program. "All of this campaign with Shaun will come to life through point-of-purchase in stores."

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