California Chrome, the horse who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, now has a new shoe sponsor.
No, not horseshoes, like you might think. Chrome has a new endorsement deal with Skechers
, the sneaker company best known for their "Shape-up" shoes, which have been falsely claiming to shape up posteriors everywhere.
Shoe brand Skechers will be featured on everything from the apparel of the horse's handlers to the horse's blanket, or fly sheet, to the barn leading up to the Belmont Stakes on June 7. The deal also requires team members to wear Skechers branding in the winner's circle should the horse win and allows Skechers to use California Chrome in marketing materials for a month after the race. Terms were not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal said it's the largest deal in horse racing since UPS paid IAEH Stables to advertise on Triple Crown hopeful Big Brown in 2008.
Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg has basically admitted that his brand has all but given up on the young demographic, and is trying to target older consumers. It makes sense, since their primary endorsement deals are with Joe Montana (57 years old), Pete Rose (73) and Joe Namath (73).
"We're a marketing company that just happens to be in the footwear business. We're spending a couple bucks to the roll the dice and if this horse wins it all, we'll be part of it. Nike is religion for a lot of kids, so it's a tough market to break through. We're going after an older audience."
California Chrome is significantly younger, but horse racing certainly has an audience that is much older than (real) sports like basketball, football or baseball.
This is a pretty peculiar deal, but Skechers is just hopping on the latest gambling bandwagon. They're betting on Chrome to take home the Triple Crown, and that they'll be rewarded in the process.
We'll see if it works out for them.