Next season, the company will promote its new battery technology at races via a category-exclusive deal with International Speedway Corp., which owns most Nascar race venues.
The Baltimore-based DeWalt is launching a line of lithium-ion "Nano Technology" power tools, and repainted the No. 17 DeWalt Tools Ford Fusion driven by Matt Kenseth.
The company also tours its Rolling Thunder road show to Nascar races, where it shows off its products and lets contractors try them out.
Jon Howland, director of marketing, says the company has been involved with Nascar since 1996, and later signed Kenseth. "As the [Nascar] brand started growing, we increased participation from series sponsorship to tool-category exclusivity International Speedway Corporation," he says. The deal is ongoing. "We will continue to evaluate that as the contract comes up, but we see tremendous value in the program. For us to be able to put tools in users' hands is critical."
He says that Nascar makes sense--it is the majority of DeWalt's marketing spend--because it is popular among contractors. "We get some 50,000 participants at races, and more than half are professional contractors," he says.
The other sport in which DeWalt is involved as a sponsor, per Howland, is grassroots soccer. "It is the most popular sport in the world, and Hispanic contractors participate in tournaments with local leagues."
Pete Morris, vice president/product marketing for cordless tools, says DeWalt's other grassroots strategy involves sending teams to residential and commercial job sites because "the guys buying, who are making decisions, aren't people who necessarily believe everything they read," so it's important, he says, that they get to try them out where they work.
Though the housing market has suffered from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Howland says business hasn't been hurt because professional power tools sales are also fueled by commercial construction, which could be everything from airports to roads. "It's a very robust business. From a construction standpoint, we have a nice balance between commercial, residential and remodeling."
Next year, the company will do a major revamp of its Nascar product marketing, including a redesign of Rolling Thunder, and of its mobile-marketing program that involves carting race cars to events and job sites.