May 16, 2008 in Business

UPS climbs aboard Big Brown bandwagon

Stevenson Jacobs Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Exercise rider Michelle Nevin jogs Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Thursday. Big Brown is favored to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – A horse by any other name simply wouldn’t have worked for UPS.

Capitalizing on the buzz around thoroughbred racing’s biggest event, UPS has inked a sponsorship deal with Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, who was named in honor of the shipping giant known for its distinctive brown trucks and uniforms.

The marketing coup has already won big media exposure and brand recognition for the original Big Brown – a rare opportunity the company candidly concedes galloped straight into its lap.

“Prior to all of this happening, we had no intention of placing sponsorship with a thoroughbred horse group,” said UPS spokesman Norman Black. “We were very opportunistic, make no bones about it,” added Black, who called sponsoring the conveniently named colt and Triple Crown prospect “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Thoroughbred teams have received corporate sponsorship since 2003, but Big Brown is the first derby winner with a tailor-made corporate nickname.

“It’s a marketing person’s dream,” said Kelly Wietsma, president of Equisponse, a horse racing marketing agency that negotiated the deal on behalf of Big Brown’s majority owner, IEAH Stables, and jockey Kent Desormeaux.

The partnership has already paid off for UPS, also known as United Parcel Service. UPS logos on Desormeaux’s pants garnered 56 seconds of on-screen time during the May 3 derby, said Eric Wright, of Joyce Julius Associates, a corporate sponsorship research firm. UPS’s brand was also mentioned on television and in hundreds of news articles, netting an estimated $1.4 million worth of total media exposure, Wright said.

The sponsorship deal, struck shortly after the Derby, makes UPS the exclusive sponsor of the Big Brown team for Saturday’s Preakness and the June 7 Belmont Stakes – the second and third leg in the Triple Crown, which no horse has won in 30 years. Big Brown is the favorite to win on Saturday.

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