Old Navy, where have you been?

After largely sitting on the sidelines over the past decade, the value-priced apparel retailer is testing the sponsorship waters. 

The Gap, Inc. unit will present two Pretty Muddy events to support a June media blitz for the Active by Old Navy line.  The retailer will kick off the partnership with the Dallas event on June 1st followed by the Sacramento event on June 29th.

Sales agency New Bridge Sports Ventures approached the retailer after learning about the new marketing campaign, said Peter Kullman, New Bridge partner and co-founder, who reps the women’s-only 5K mud run and obstacle course events.

“They were re-launching a line of active wear, and we thought it would be a good fit.”

Needless to say, the sponsorship caught the interest of Old Navy.

“We weren’t necessarily looking for this kind of opportunity, but the timing was perfect,” said Kate Dickman, Old Navy’s senior director of brand marketing.

Pretty Muddy draws Old Navy’s target audience of 25-to-35-year-old women and supports the retailer’s fun and casual positioning, she said.

“Pretty Muddy is about fitness and maximizing your potential, but not in a way that is overly threatening or too physically active.”

The retailer will activate the events with on- and off-site consumer engagement programs to support the national media campaign.

On-site, Old Navy will distribute coupons and sponsor changing rooms, around which it will provide participants a shirt, flip flops and a bag for muddy clothes.

The retailer also will sponsor a post-race fashion show featuring event participants wearing the activewear line.

“It’s a neat way to showcase our products and be relevant to our target audience,” said Dickman.

Old Navy will provide apparel for Pretty Muddy staff and volunteers, said Kevin Scharnek, Pretty Muddy founder.

Old Navy also is leveraging Pretty’s Muddy’s partnership with Susan G. Komen Dallas County with a cause-related marketing program, around which it is donating $5 to the nonprofit for the first 2,000 race participants.

The two organizations also are distributing 250 free race registrations to breast cancer survivors.

The retailer will amplify its message by posting event content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, added Dickman, who also manages the retailer’s digital consumer engagement initiatives.

“This is an opportunity to capture content of consumers enjoying themselves.”

Old Navy may expand the partnership to Pretty Muddy’s other six events, said Dickman, who will determine success based on the execution of the activation platform and the number of coupon redemptions.