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Robert Griffin III Signs Endorsement Deal…For Motor Oil?

Monday, 9 Apr 2012 | 9:33 AM ET

In the days before the NFL Draft, top draftees typically sign one-off endorsement deals with companies like Subway and Sprint . It’s a quick deal that lasts for the draft period where brands get attention by latching themselves on to the hottest new names in professional football.

But with each year, the effectiveness of these deals decline because it’s the same brands over and over again.

Until now.

Castrol, which signed on as the official motor oil of the NFL last season, is pairing up with former Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, using him to promote its Castrol Edge product. RGIII, who is expected to be taken second in the draft by the Washington Redskins, will be featured in banner ads for the premium synthetic oil brand, along with a game that allows consumers to see how fast they can get him to run. RGIII will promote the partnership through Twitter, which he joined last week. His handle, @RGIII, already has almost 90,000 followers.

Robert Griffin III Castrol Endorsement
Source: Castrol
Robert Griffin III Castrol Endorsement

If you are wondering why a motor oil is sponsoring the NFL, and now a top draft pick, that’s a good question. The answer? To break out of the clutter. While Castrol has been involved with traditional motorsports for years, it’s harder to stand above the crowd, said Carolyn Eckert, Castrol’s sponsorship promotions and creative services director.

“The fact that this partnership is unexpected is one of the reasons it has worked so well,” Eckert said. “Our first year with the NFL exceeded our expectations. It has really brought our ‘Strength To Perform’ motto to life.”

Eckert said it’s an important time in the life cycle of the brand. As the economy has forced people to keep their cars longer, she says they’re looking to make a small investment (premium oil costs about $2 more per quart than standard oil) to make their car run better over a longer period of time.

“The challenge in our business is that it’s hard to get people to sample our product,” Eckert said. “Seeing the NFL shield helps us get there.”

Castrol, which is BP’s leading lubricants brand, battles with Mobil 1 in the premium oil space. While consumer promotions, including one that allowed eight people to take part in this year’s combine in Indianapolis, have been successful, Eckert said promotions with retailers to move product have yielded even more robust sales. Castrol offers sales incentives like NFL merchandise and tickets to its top performers.

This is third endorsement deal for RGIII, having signed a lucrative shoe and apparel deal with adidas and is the cover athlete for EA’s NCAA Football ’13.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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