With previous ties ranging from zoos to the Puppy Bowl, Mohawk Industries, Inc. is taking its sponsorship campaign in a new direction.

Looking to promote its SmartStrand stain-resistant carpet in a real-life setting, the flooring company has signed on as the official carpet of the Tough Mudder obstacle course series. The estimated mid-six-figure tie runs through 2015.

“Most of our competitors talk about performance from a laboratory perspective. They never put product in an extreme situation because it won’t hold up,” said David Duncan, Mohawk senior vice president of marketing and sales operations.

Mohawk will use Tough Mudder to promote SmartStrand Forever Clean, a new line extension. The company touts the product as “the first carpet to combine built-in stain protection with a nanotechnology spill shield.” Mohawk launched the SmartStrand line in 2005 in partnership with DuPont.

The carpet manufacturer was drawn to Tough Mudder due to the property’s positioning as a test of determination, camaraderie and teamwork.    

“Tough Mudder encourages people to test their strength and push themselves beyond the ordinary. As innovators, we live by this same philosophy and continually push ourselves to introduce technologies and products, like SmartStrand Forever Clean, that takes flooring to new levels of success the industry has never seen.”

Mohawk also was drawn to a key component of Tough Mudder events: mud. The company will activate the tie by placing a 100-foot-long piece of SmartStrand carpet at each event’s finish line. The company will then clean the carpet to demonstrate the product’s ability to withstand massive amounts of mud and abuse.

“Every participant will run across our carpet. There is a strong connection between an extreme event and an extreme product.”

Mohawk will post videos from the carpet clean-ups on its Facebook page and other digital channels.

Mohawk will activate at retail with point-of-sale material and local event kits. The company, which also owns the Aladdin, Karastan, Bigelow and other brands,  sells through 12,000 independent flooring retailers and home centers.

The in-store activation will provide valuable exposure for the adventure series, said Dan Weinberg, Tough Mudder’s vice president of global partnerships.

“It’s a massive opportunity. We’re a young, growing brand trying to increase brand awareness, and having a company the size of Mohawk marketing on our behalf in locations we could not reach is huge.”

The sponsorship took roughly four to five months to put together, he said.

Mohawk today announced the partnership at its annual convention for retail partners, an event the company is using to kick off the 2015 sales season.

SmartStrand Cleans Up With Experiential Marketing
Tough Mudder is the latest iteration of SmartStrand’s five-year-old event marketing campaign.

Mohawk focuses on events, PR and social media to promote the carpet line.   

“We’re a manufacturing company, and we have limited resources. We’re a big believer in PR and creating our own news.”

Mohawk kicked off the event marketing campaign in 2009 with the SmartStrand Challenge, a program in which it installed carpet in a rhino enclosure at the Birmingham Zoo for two weeks. The partnership was opportunistic: Mohawk’s Birmingham-based ad agency was working on the Birmingham Zoo relaunch.

The company—which ran a similar program in 2010 with the Dallas Zoo—posted content from the events on www.SmartStrandChallenge.com.

“We’re putting time, effort and investment into social media,” said Elise Demboski, Mohawk vice president of creative services, noting that the company also shares content with retail partners.

“We want to drive consumers to their stores by using exciting out-of-the-box events.”

While Mohawk used the SmartStrand Challenge to promote SmartStrand’s performance under duress, the company in 2011 created the License to Spill mobile marketing campaign to promote SmartStrand Silk—a new line extension—and the product’s stain resistant capabilities. Mohawk promotes the product by inviting consumers to make a mess on a piece of carpet.

The program—which is still on the road—is hosted by personalities from the Better Show TV show and is cosponsored by local retailers.

Mohawk in 2014 partnered with the Puppy Bowl to demonstrate SmartStrand’s ability to withstand pet accidents. Mohawk activated the TV show with the SmartStrand Unleashed Carpet Challenge, a cause-related marketing program in which the company donated $2 to the Petfinder Foundation for every like on the Mohawk Flooring Facebook page. 

Mohawk also hosted an experiential marketing program next to the NFL Experience at New York City’s Times Square in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Other flooring manufacturers include Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Interface, Inc. and Beaulieu of America Inc.