Q&A: Tim Fuhriman
Right Guard, the official deodorant of the NBA, is broadening its alliance with the league with two new proucts, marketing with all-star Chris Paul and product placement on NBC's celebrity edition of The Apprentice.
By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor, NYSportsJournalism.com
(Posted Feb. 12, 2009)
Since signing a multi-year deal last June to become the official deodorant of the NBA, Right Guard has been as aggressive a partner as the league could want. The NBA logo began appearing that month on 50 million packs of Right Guard Xtreme and Right Guard Sports deodorant. And multi-media, anchored by TV from Energy BBDO, Chicago, starring guard Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, was prominent during the finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. This season, the brand (a division of Dial), launched a "Never Get Caught Off Guard" sweeps, which included a grand prize of a trip to the 2009 All-Star Game, being played in Right Guard's Phoenix backyard. Beginning today (Feb. 12), fans in Phoenix can join in with the first NBA All-Star Block Party present by Right Guard, a four-day event that includes games, entertainment and refreshment, most being offered by other NBA partners such as EA, Toyota and Anheuser-Busch. Tim Fuhriman, director of marketing for Right Guard, spoke with NYSportsJournalism.com about working with the NBA.
NYSportsJournalism.com: Right Guard might be the NBA's marketing partner rookie of the year with all of the activations thus far.
Tim Fuhriman: Some partnerships work better than others. And when they are a match made in heaven, so to speak, the creative process just flows much easier. It has been that way with the NBA. We are a performance-oriented, sports-oriented brand. The NBA is obviously a performance- oriented, sports-oriented brand. So the segue was just perfect. We met in the middle very easily.
NYSJ: What is the NBA tie-in with the new Right Guard products?
Fuhriman: That would be NBA Fast Break Xtreme Dry and NBA Fast Break Xtreme Dry Power Gel, both with fast-acting odor fighters. The package design prominently features an NBA basketball and the "official deodorant of the NBA" line. We have the deal with Chris Paul. who will appear in TV, online and other activations. Creative is still being developed by Energy BBDO, Chicago. We are sponsoring the NBA's first block party, which is running in conjunction with the All-Star Game in Phoenix. We won't have product samples yet but we will hand out coupons and other communications directing people online and into stores. A bunch of other things that are coming together. Our broadcast [marketing for Fast Break], online, POP, promotions and other communication is coming together as we speak. It will be very seamless for us.
"We need to be relevant to a broader, younger, more sports-minded guy. And that's where the NBA puts us."
NYSJ: Will this time to the release of the product?
Fuhriman: The product will hit shelves in March and we plan to have advertising on-air with Chris Paul to support the launch. He will be in Phoenix for the All-Star Game, so we will sit down and block out some time with him to film the ads. We might try to get him in Los Angeles for as much time as we can and get the spots done there. He's great to work with, and a great spokesman for the league. And a great player. So we could not have asked for a better spokesman for our products.
NYSJ: What other activation is coming for the new SKUs?
Fuhriman: We will be part of NBC's upcoming The Celebrity Apprentice show [which premieres March 1 with such stars as former NBAer Dennis Rodman and former NFLer Herschel Walker] where we will incorporate our NBA Fast Break products. We filmed [a segment] at the NBA Store in New York with Donald Trump. There will be print [including] Sports Illustrated where two teams on an episode [in April] of Celebrity Apprentice will compete to create a marketing campaign. The winner gets a four-page spread in SI. So we have a lot of these things layering on top of each other that we feel will all build to get the communication right and get the message out there. At the end of the day we are going to find a way to combine our NBA partnership, Chris Paul, online, broadcast, our in-store and all other communications to get the word out there.
NYSJ: What is Right Guard's status with extreme sports, such as the [Alli] Dew Action Tour, where the company was title sponsor at the RIght Guard Open event?
Fuhriman: We've stepped back a bit from that stuff and decided to build on our relationship with the NBA, which has a bit more broader reach and is more aligned with what we are trying to say and who we are trying to target at a more macro level. Which is to say a more performance-oriented, broader sports-minded individual. This is nothing against the Dew Tour and other events of that nature. But we found it to be a little bit more niche as opposed to a little bit more broad reaching. So we are going with where we can get the most bang for our bucks.
NYSJ: So the NBA demographics are a better fit with where Right Guard wants to be and plans to go?
Fuhriman: Yes. it's one of those deals where you have to expand your reach when you are working with a target consumer as broad as the one that we are trying to appeal to. Our research indicates that when you are young you wish you were 21, and when you are older you wish you were 21. The point is that we need to be relevant to a broader, younger, more sports-minded guy. And that's where the NBA puts us.
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