Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Let's See What Junior Can Do

AMP 88 Racecar

I'm really loving the fact that Dale Jr. will be driving the No. 88 car next year with Amp on his hood instead of Mountain Dew. When it was first rumored that "Little E" would shed Budweiser for Mountain Dew, I wasn't that excited. Why? Because Mountain Dew is already the fourth largest soda brand in the U.S., behind Coke, Pepsi and Diet Coke. If Earnhardt had Mountain Dew on his hood, we'd never know if he did anything for them. Like Budweiser, the brand was just too big before he arrived.

That's not the case for Amp, Pepsi's energy drink. Here's why. According to Bevnet, Amp was the sixth best selling energy drink in 2006, in terms of dollars.

In terms of total retail sales, Amp has about a 5 percent share, according to "Beverage Digest," but the bottom line is it has a long way to go. And that's the best part.

When big-time athletes sign deals they always talk about aligning with blue-chip brands. The problem with this is that blue-chip brands are market leaders. So we never really can observe on the outside if the athletes are doing anything. Do we know if Tiger really did anything for American Express ? No. But we would if he signed with Joe's Credit Cards. Do I truly know if Tony Stewart has done anything for Home Depot or Jeff Gordon for DuPont? Really hard to tell.

Here, Earnhardt Jr. has aligned himself with the bigger Pepsi brand, which makes the alliance acceptable, but the smaller nature of Amp will allow us to truly see the power of a NASCAR sponsorship. My goal is to track the market share of Amp and see what happens.

Questions?  Comments?