High Ridge Brands Co. is finding success from Zest’s two-year-old partnership with Roush Fenway Racing and the No. 17 Sprint Cup Series team.

The company credits the sponsorship with driving a double-digit percent increase in sales for the iconic deodorant soap brand.

“We have seen brand growth of more than 20 percent since we acquired Zest after a history of double-digital sales declines,” said Jim Daniels, High Ridge Brands’ president and CEO.

High Ridge Brands acquired Zest from The Procter & Gamble Co. in 2011.

And the brand continues to maintain its upward momentum. Dollar sales for Zest grew 42.1 percent in the year-ended Oct. 6, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

Based on that success, High Ridge has renewed the RFR sponsorship for the 2014 season.  Zest will sponsor six races in 2014 after sponsoring seven races in 2013 and six in 2012.

The unit of private equity group Brynwood Partners aligned with Roush Fenway Racing to rejuvenate the Zest brand. Byrnwood specializes in purchasing and revitalizing personal care brands.

“We buy neglected brands, spend time understanding their brand equity and rebuild them by investing in trade and marketing,” said Daniels.

NASCAR provides an opportunity to re-engage Zest’s target demographic, said Daniels, noting that the brand targets families that live in the Southeast and Midwest U.S.

“We felt that NASCAR might be a way to rapidly reconnect an iconic brand with its previous customer base.”

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High Ridge also uses the sponsorship to gain media exposure. The company—which shifted a portion of Zest’s media budget to pay for the RFR partnership—generated roughly $15 million worth of exposure in the first year of the relationship, said Daniels.

“That was a huge value for us and helped accelerate the brand turnaround.”

Looking to maximize its investment, High Ridge promotes the sponsorship across other marketing platforms. That includes TV ads, free standing inserts and product packaging. The company also markets a bar of soap modeled after the No. 17 car.

“Rather than having a one-off program, we strive to integrate all our marketing programs together. The NASCAR affiliation helps make our marketing dollars more effective.”

The company also activates the sponsorship with the Zest Racing Facebook page. In addition to information on Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the site features behind-the-scenes content from the No. 17 team spotter.

Daniels credits the success of the sponsorship in part to Roush Fenway Racing’s willingness to help Zest activate the tie. The team earlier this year created a new department charged with developing turnkey activation platforms for partners.

“They give us advice on optimizing our marketing efforts,” said Daniels.

Case in point: RFR earlier this year helped promote the launch of the Zest High Intensity body wash. The team used its social media channels to promote a press release on April Fools’ Day that announced that the No.17 car would feature two paint schemes at an upcoming race.

The promotion generated exposure for the brand in front of nearly one million fans, said Kevin Thomas, Roush Fenway Racing’s vice president of strategic marketing.

Based on the success of the program, High Ridge may bring other brands into the RFR partnership. Brynwood—which created High Ridge Brands following the Zest acquisition—has since purchased Coast, V05 and the White Rain brands.

“We are evaluating opportunities to bring other brands into the NASCAR fold.”