Unilever teams with JR Motorsports to boost NASCAR involvement
Consumer Products Giant Aligns with Racing's Most Popular and Respected Drivers for Multi-Brand Sponsorship Program.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (October 10, 2008) – Unilever, a multi-national company that owns more than 400 of the world's most recognized food and home care brands, will be a primary sponsor for JR Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolets in 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2009. The partnership was announced by Dale Earnhardt Jr. today at a news conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The 10-race sponsorship package will be divided amongst four popular Unilever brands – Hellmann's® mayonnaise, Ragu® pasta sauce, Klondike® ice cream, and Lipton® tea. Three different drivers will compete in select races in the Unilever-branded No. 5 car – two-time series champion Earnhardt Jr., all-time wins leader Mark Martin, and current Raybestos Rookie-Of-The-Year contender Landon Cassill. Martin and Earnhardt Jr. alone combine for 70 NASCAR Nationwide Series victories.
"Unilever is thrilled to associate our brands with two of racing's most popular and respected drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin, and with one of the sport's top rising talents, Landon Cassill," said Marc Shaw, Director of Integrated Marketing for Unilever. "By partnering with Dale Jr. and JR Motorsports, we are expanding an already successful history with NASCAR – especially with a driver whose popularity transcends motor racing with wide appeal and recognition. We are extremely pleased that Dale, Mark and Landon will represent our brands in the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series."
The select races that will feature Unilever brands on the No. 5 Chevrolet are still being finalized. However, it is confirmed that Earnhardt Jr. will kick off the partnership by piloting the No. 5 Hellmann's Chevy in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 14. Five of Earnhardt Jr.'s 22 Nationwide Series victories have come at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
"I am really excited to partner with Unilever and continue what we've been able to accomplish with JR Motorsports," said Earnhardt Jr., who co-owns the No. 5 team with Rick Hendrick. "In a short amount of time, we've gone from an upstart, single-car team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series to having two highly competitive teams that won races in 2008. When we merged our Nationwide Series operations with Hendrick Motorsports last year, it really elevated our program to the next level. Having Unilever come on board will help us continue that momentum."
The 2009 campaign will mark the second consecutive year that Earnhardt Jr., Martin and Cassill share driving duties in the No. 5 Chevrolet. Martin, whose 48 Nationwide Series victories are the most of any driver, kick-started JR Motorsports' breakout season with a win in the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 1. It was the first of two wins achieved by the No. 5 team this year, and the first of four that JR Motorsports has celebrated among its two full-time teams thus far in 2008.
Like Martin, Cassill has played a contributing role in the team's success this year. The 19-year-old driver from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, scored a career-best finish of sixth at Gateway International Raceway on July 19, and he won the pole for the June 28 race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Cassill currently holds a one-point lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.
"We know that NASCAR fans crave real food that tastes great and is made from simple, ingredients; we're all about real food for real fans," said James Fish, Senior Brand Manager for Hellmann's and Best Foods. "One of the main platforms for our involvement in NASCAR has been to search for and reward 'real' fans and we plan to continue and even expand our campaign with Dale Jr., a NASCAR driver who is real in every sense of the word."
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Unilever's mission is to add vitality to life. We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Each day, around the world, consumers make 160 million decisions to purchase Unilever products. In the United States, the portfolio includes major brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry's, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal care products, Hellmann's, Klondike, Knorr, Lipton, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Suave, Sunsilk and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies. Dedicated to serving consumers and the communities where we live, work and play, Unilever employs more than 14,000 people in both the United States and Puerto Rico – generating nearly $11 billion in sales in 2007. For more information, visit www.unileverusa.com .
About JR Motorsports
Established in 1999, JR Motorsports is the management company and racing operation for professional stock car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. JRM competes in multiple racing divisions, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in which it fields two full-time teams. Earnhardt Jr.'s organization is based out of a 60,000-square foot facility in Mooresville, N.C., and includes the JR Nation retail store and Dale Jr. Fan Experience. For more information on JR Motorsports, visit www.dalejr.com .
Mike Davis – Director of Communications / JR Motorsports
Megan Whiteside – Media Representative / No. 5 Team
Jennifer Reilly - Unilever Account Director / Weber Shandwick
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