From a non-endemic sponsor perspective, few brands have been involved in sports marketing as long as The Procter & Gamble Co.’s Tide.

The country’s largest laundry detergent brand kicked off its sponsorship push in 1987 with a partnership with Hendrick Motorsports and driver Darrell Waltrip in the former NASCAR Winston Cup Series, a marketing platform it has continued on its own and with various retail partners over the years. 

And Tide continues to expand its sponsorship portfolio. Case in point: P&G this year added Tide to its three-year-old partnership with the NFL, a tie that includes Head & Shoulders, Vicks and other brands.

Not content with rights to the league and the collective use of team logos afforded through the NFL deal, Tide expanded the partnership with individual deals with the league’s 32 teams. Tide is the second sponsor behind PepsiCo’s Gatorade to have deals with both the league and every team.

Other laundry brands also are increasing their use of sponsorship. Sun Products Corp. next year will kick off a multiyear tie with Little League Baseball and Softball on behalf of its All and Snuggle fabric care brands.

With the exception of the relatively new packet and bar segment, dollar sales in the laundry detergent category remain flat. Dollar sales of liquid laundry detergent in supermarket, drug store, mass merchant and gas and grocery store outlets—excluding Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.—rose .32 percent in the year-ended Oct. 7, according to SymphonyIRIGroup, a market research firm.

Sales in the packet and bar segment rose 330 percent, with Tide leading the charge with a 62.2 percent increase in sales.

Below, IEG SR highlights the three primary hot buttons in the laundry detergent category:

Promote products in relevant environment. Tide, All and other detergents use sponsorship to promote products in a relevant, credible environment. That includes sports teams and other partnerships where clean uniforms are a must.

For its part, Sun Products partnered with Little League Baseball to promote All and Snuggle to mothers of the roughly 2.5 million children who play baseball and softball.

“For Little Leaguers there is nothing that beats the excitement of sliding safely into home base, but for mom that means needing to have laundry care products that lift out those tough stains and keep kids looking good for the next game,” said Ed Vlacich, Sun Products’ executive vice president of national brands, in a statement.

Tide activates the NFL with TV ads that showcase the use of its product by Ed Wagner, equipment manager with the NFL New York Giants. The ads play up the importance of using the right detergent to clean clothes between games.

Tout brand attributes. As befitting the laundry detergent category, P&G is activating the NFL with the “Show Us Your Colors” campaign, a marketing platform that promotes Tide brand attributes through the passion for local teams.

Tide kicked off the campaign at the Sept.9 game held between the NFL Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, around which it distributed Tide branded T-shirts on each seat in Lambeau Field. Fans wore the shirts for the “Tide Green and Gold Out” between the National Anthem and kickoff.

Roughly 70,000 fans participated in the promotion, said Sarah Pasquinucci, communications manager for Procter & Gamble North America fabric care and home care. “It was an amazing display of color.”

P&G also is supporting “Show Us Your Colors” with a series of documentary-style videos on Tide.com and NFL.com that tells the story behind the colors of each NFL team and how the colors became what they are today.

In a different twist, Sun Products this summer year inked a partnership with U.S. gold medal wrestler and NBC Television analyst Rulon Gardner on behalf of Wisk Deep Clean, a line extension with patented micro-cleaners that attack body oils and sweat.

Rulon served as Wisk’s official “Sweat Ambassador” during the 2012 London Olympics.

Gain platforms for retail promotions. Sun Products plans to activate Little League Baseball with national programs to engage both retailers and consumers. Those include the following:

  • In-store marketing collateral (hangtags, signage, packaging, etc.)
  • Direct communication with Little League families (direct mail, online, etc.)
  • On-site activation at the Little League World Series in Williamsport
  • Consumer promotions
  • National newspaper couponing

The All brand also plans to tout Little League in TV, print and online advertising, said Kathryn Corbally, Sun Products’ director of corporate affairs.

Tide is promoting the NFL and team logos on product packaging. The products tout Tide’s status as the “Proud Keeper of Your Team’s Colors” and “Clean the NFL Trusts.” The products also include an offer for collectable gear for each local team.

The Top Ten Players In The Liquid Laundry Detergent Category
Company Dollar Sales Year-over-Year Dollar Sales Growth Dollar Share
Tide $1.8 billion (1.23%) 30.94%
Gain $665 million 1.67% 11.52%
All $328 million (10.93%) 5.69%
Purex $277 million 3.45% 4.81%
Arm & Hammer $270 million (0.77%) 4.68%
Tide Plus Febreze $216 million 13.04% 3.75%
Xtra $184 million (1.37%) 3.20%
Arm & Hammer Plus Oxi Clean $178 million 25.36% 3.10%
Private label $178 million (8.36%) 3.10%
All Oxi-Active $147.2 million 42.82% 2.55%
Source: Total U.S. sales in supermarkets, drugstores, gasoline/convenience stores and mass merchant (excluding Walmart) outlets in the 52 weeks ending Oct. 7, 2012, per SymphonyIRIGroup.