While a number of apparel companies have entered the sponsorship waters over the past few years, few have embraced the medium as much as VF Corp.’s Wrangler brand.

With a portfolio that ranges from rodeos to country music and professional sports, the iconic western lifestyle brand has long used sponsorship and celebrity endorsements to build consideration and generate excitement at the point of sale.

Wrangler’s portfolio includes sponsorships with the Professional Bull Riders and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. and endorsement deals with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brett Favre and rodeo champion Trevor Brazile.

IEG SR spoke with Craig Errington, VF Jeanswear’s vice president of marketing communications, about Wrangler’s sponsorship and endorsement programs, how the brand activates the ties, and other topics.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation:

IEG SR: Sponsorship has long played an important role in Wrangler’s marketing mix. Tell me about that.  

Errington: Sponsorships and endorsements are a key part of our marketing mix. Over the years we have found that the Wrangler brand becomes more relevant when we tie into key passion points.

IEG SR: Speaking of which, tell me about your endorsement deals.

Errington: In the rodeo space we have a partnership with Trevor Brazile, a nine-time all-around world champion. We use dozens of other pro rodeo cowboys as well, but Trevor is by far the one who we leverage the most.

In country music we have a long relationship with George Strait. That relationship has actually morphed into a role where George has his own product line, the George Strait Collection by Wrangler. We also have a partnership with Jason Aldean. We use Jason to promote the Wrangler Retro western line, which is targeted at a younger, more contemporary western consumer.

In sports we have a couple of high-profile relationships: Dale Earnhardt Jr., the nine-time most popular driver in NASCAR, and Brett Favre, the former quarterback with the Green Bay Packers.

We use those guys in different ways to reach different groups, but what is consistent is that they each represent a key passion point for our consumer, whether it’s NASCAR, rodeo or country music. 

All of the celebrities wore Wrangler before we had a formal endorsement deal. That’s the magic. The relationships are genuine, authentic and believable.

IEG SR: How does Wrangler activate PBR and other events?

Errington: We tie in retailers around every event. We leverage the PBR, country music tours and other properties with local promotions that include ticket giveaways, point-of-sale displays and incremental co-op advertising.

IEG SR: Can you share a recent example?

Errington: George Strait just completed his winter and spring tour, and we leveraged the partnership with multiple retailers in each market. The retailers ran an in-store promotion that offered a George Strait poster and the chance to win two tickets.  We also support promotions like that with local radio stations.

IEG SR: Do you activate at events?

Errington: We focus on retail activation, which is where the action has to happen. All of our sponsorships and endorsements have to lead to sales, and we spend a lot of time making sure the relationships are leveraged as much as we can at retail.

IEG SR: Has Wrangler’s approach to sponsorship changed at all over the years?

Errington: Sponsorships and endorsements are more important than ever to the Wrangler brand. We have found them to be a great way to differentiate our brand in the marketplace. The right relationships help us achieve greater brand awareness and consideration, which ultimately leads to greater brand loyalty.

That all ties back to the Wrangler brand showing consumers that we understand their interests and support their passions.