Boosted by a steady stream of upstart brands and line extensions from existing players, sponsorship activity on behalf of energy drinks remains strong, if still concentrated among a small number of property types appealing primarily to young adult males.

Although the category has received negative publicity of late over the potential danger of some ingredients, sales show no sign of slowing down. Sales of energy drinks rose 240 percent from ’04 through the end of ’08, according to research firm Mintel GNPD. At the same time, the number of yearly product launches rose by more than 110 percent.

As in years past, energy drink marketers have maintained their near-myopic focus on motorsports, music and action sports properties as a platform to promote brand attributes and gain platforms for retail promotions.

One recent trend: Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar and other energy drink marketers have all rolled out energy shots, a product that has helped prop up sales and stave off competition from pure-play energy shot brands such as Living Essentials’ 5-hour Energy, itself a sponsor of Rusty Wallace Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Energy Drinks: Who Does What

AMP Energy
Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages
700 Anderson Hill Rd.
Purchase, NY 10577

Dave Mingey, vice president of marketing, energy drinks

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Mountain Dew line extension focuses on NASCAR and snowboarding, the latter of which the brand took over from SoBe Adrenaline Rush after PCNAB took that product off the market earlier this year. Activates sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.-driven Sprint Cup entry with TV spots, retail promotions, sampling programs, a Dale Jr.-themed limited edition flavor (Tradin’ Paint) and title of the October race at Talladega, one of the driver’s favorite tracks. AMP also leveraged with Get on the 88 promotion offering 105,000 fans the chance to have their name placed on the car or pit wall banner at the AMP Energy 500. Aligned this year with USARPS League and mtvU to create and title 20-stop Rock Paper Scissors ChAMPionships as a platform to reach college students. Promotes event on, an online community it uses to promote sponsored bands and recruit college students as brand ambassadors.

Decision-Making Structure: Mingey reviews and signs off on ties with other marketing executives, including Maurice Herrera, marketing director, AMP Energy, and Jeff Dubiel, vice president of sports marketing, PCNAB.

Current Sponsorships: Title: AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Talladega, Ala.; Rock Paper Scissors ChAMPionships. Co-title: Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup team. Cosponsor: Amgen Tour of California; Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships; Chip Ganassi Racing Izod IndyCar Series team; Talladega Superspeedway.

Additional Comments: Mingey recently joined PCNAB after serving as director of Olympic marketing at Johnson & Johnson. U.S. Open Snowboarding tie part of deal with Burton Snowboards that includes Burton AM Series, Burton Demo Tour and Burton World Tour. Has handful of action sports endorsement deals with athletes including BMXers Chad Kagy and Anthony Napolitan, and snowboarders Kevin Pearce, Keir Dillon and Hannah Teter. Did not renew title of NHL Winter Classic after last season.

Bawls Guarana
Hobarama, LLC
400 NW 26th St.
Miami, FL 33127

Marie Navarro, senior marketing manager

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Privately held company positions Bawls as caffeinated drink of choice among extreme sports athletes, students, professionals and military personnel. Focuses on BMX and gaming events, which it uses as a platform to sample product. Supports BMX racers through the Bawls BMX Award Program that recognizes amateur talent with an award and a year-long sponsorship. The company, which reportedly spends about 75 percent of its marketing budget on sponsorship, aligns with around 1,000 video game tournaments each year, most of which are in-kind partnerships. Renewed its year-old sponsorship of October’s 24 Hour Comics Day, a program of the Comics Professional Retail Organization that has comic book stores hosting artists who set aside 24 consecutive hours to create a 24-page comic book.

Decision-Making Structure: Navarro screens and signs off on sponsorships.

Current Sponsorships: 24 Hour Comics Day; ABA National BMX Series; National Bicycle League

Additional Comments: Has endorsement deals with several riders including Stephanie Barragan, Danny Caluag, David Herman and Dylan Perez. Bawls also focuses on product placement deals; recent movie tie-ins include The Hangover and Flying By, while TV show placements include The Real Housewives of New Jersey; Reno 911! and Surviving Suburbia. Dropped two-year sponsorship of IMG’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami after ’08.

Monster Energy
Monster Beverage Co.
550 Monica Circle, Suite 201
Corona, CA 92880

Vipe Desai, director of action sports, events and partnerships marketing

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Hansen Natural Corp. subsidiary sponsors motorsports and music to break through clutter, connect with hard-to-reach young adults, promote its “unleash the beast” brand positioning and M-claw logo, and sample product. Focuses on action sports and music. New deals in ’09 include IJSBA World Finals, Tech 3 Yamaha and USA Snowboard Assn. Also has continued to step up sponsorship outside U.S; for example, Monster Energy Australia and New Zealand this year signed multi-year title to Super X, the Australasian Supercross Championship, while Monster Canada took primary status of Yamaha Factory Racing’s ISOC and CSRA snocross team. Activates 10-year-old sponsorship of Vans Warped Tour by bottling water featuring Monster and Warped Tour branding and distributing it to musicians and tour staff.

Decision-Making Structure: Desai reviews and approves ties with other marketing staff, including Geoff Bremmer, brand manager. Mark Hall, Monster Beverage president, weighs in.

Current Sponsorships: Title: AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship; Dub Show Tour presented by Tag; Kevin Harvick Inc. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. Co-title: Kawasaki pro motorcycle teams; Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team. Presenting: Crue Fest 2 rock tour; Int’l Jet Sports Boating Assn.’s Quakysense World Finals, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Cosponsor: AirPower Over Hampton Roads Air Show; Fiesta Atlanta; Gateway Int’l Raceway; USA Snowboard Assn.; Vans Warped Tour presented by AT&T.

Additional Comments: Signed three-year Yamaha MotoGP team deal this year after longtime partner Kawasaki pulled out of the sport. Activated Crue Fest sponsorship through a promotion with local radio stations dangling the opportunity for a local band to play on the Monster Energy stage at each stop; the most popular of those bands received a one-year sponsorship from Monster Energy. Has endorsement deals with more than 50 action sports athletes, including NASCAR driver Robbie Gordon, BMXer Dave Mirra and snowboarder Danny Kass, as well as partnerships with 25 music acts including Atreyu, Chevelle and the Supersuckers. Uses events to gain content and recruit consumers for online community.

Red Bull
Red Bull North America, Inc.
1740 Stewart St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Patrice Radden, director of corporate communications

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Like its Austrian parent Red Bull GmbH, Red Bull North America focuses on owning properties–including its MLS and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams–rather than sponsoring events owned by third parties. Prefers proprietary events to support positioning as category creator, leader and innovator, and to promote Red Bull brand experience. Typically activates through online promotions and traditional media. Owned properties include: Art of Can exhibition; BC One breakdance competition; Beat Riders Urban Dance Experience; Big Tune music producer competition; Flugtag; Illume photo exhibition; MLS Red Bull New York and Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.; Red Bull Air Force air stunt team; Red Bull Air Race; Red Bull Drift Team; Red Bull Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team; Soapbox Race; X-Fighters FMX tour.

Decision-Making Structure: Event teams at corporate office and regional offices create and activate events and sponsorships.

Current Sponsorships: Title: Indianapolis GP, MotoGP race. Cosponsor: Bethpage Federal Credit Union New York Air Show; Camp Woodward sports camps; NBA Golden State Warriors; NHL Carolina Hurricanes; Nokia Theatre Times Square; Pittsburgh Triathlon & Adventure Race; Rose Bowl Stadium; Scottsdale Culinary Festival; Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine; Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Additional Comments: Has endorsement deals with NFL star Reggie Bush, skier Lindsey Vonn, snowboarder Travis Rice and other athletes. Sponsors Urbana, Ill.’s Pygmalion Music Festival on behalf of Red Bull Music Academy. Globally, has signed more traditional sponsorships this year than in past. For example, inked three-year partnership with Live Nation that includes sponsorship of six annual music events in the U.K.: Download; T in the Park; Wireless; Hard Rock Calling; Global Gathering; and Escape into the Park.

Rockstar Energy Drink
Rockstar, Inc.
101 Convention Center Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Michael Kelso, marketing director

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Privately held Rockstar focuses on music, motorsports, mixed martial arts and other high-energy property types to generate buzz, sample product and highlight its “party like a rock star” positioning. Typically looks for title or presenting status to gain maximum exposure. Frequently activates with on-site branded lounge featuring models, autograph signing sessions and sampling. Often tries to cross-promote ties; for example, conducted a BMX demo at Bumbershoot arts festival. In September signed deal with Prudential Center, home to NHL New Jersey Devils; sponsorship includes sampling rights during game days, pouring rights at concessions and bars, and advertising and promotional opportunities.

Decision-Making Structure: Kelso reviews and signs off on deals with other marketing staff.

Current Sponsorships: Title: Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Challenge Cup, Lake Elsinore, Calif.; Taste of Chaos international music tour; Mayhem Festival U.S. music tour; US Open of Supercross, Las Vegas; WWA Wakeboard Championships. Presenting: Alternative Press Tour music tour. Cosponsor: Bumbershoot, Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival; FBR Open, Scottsdale, Ariz. PGA Tour stop; Prudential Center; Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

Additional Comments: Has endorsement deals with more than 100 athletes ranging from motocross and drift racing to BMX and mixed martial arts. Activates music tour sponsorships by posting concert footage on its Web site. Also sponsors to promote international expansion: this year became an associate sponsor of Ireland’s Excel Rally Championship.

Editor’s Notes

Vemma Nutrition Co.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based multi-level marketer sponsors NBA Phoenix Suns as platform to gain visibility, boost credibility and recruit sales representatives for its Verve! energy drink. Deal also includes title of Verve Energy Lounge in US Airways Center. Sales representatives also sponsor on their own, such as Verve’s six-month sponsorship of the Professional Longboard Assn. The company bills Verve as the “insanely healthy energy drink.” Contact: BK Boreyko, CEO, Tel: 800/577-0777.

Wave Energy Drink
This month announced an extension of its partnership with Tommy Baldwin Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team through the ’10 season. Mooresville, N.C.-based Wave, which entered NASCAR this year, will serve as primary sponsor for 14 races and be a cosponsor for the remainder. Contact: Jason Wolter, vice president of marketing, Tel: 800/636-2626.

Xyience, Inc.
Las Vegas-based energy drink, supplement and apparel marketer signed a multiyear contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship in ’06 as a platform to promote the launch of Xenergy drinks. Xyience activates by touting the partnership on product packaging, hosting in-store autograph signing sessions with UFC fighters it has endorsement deals with, and through a cross-promotion with cosponsor Harley Davidson, Inc. in Circle K and Kum & Go convenience stores. Broadened partnership in October by aligning with the new free-to-play online UFC Poker Room, around which it offers a prize package. Contact: Csaba Reider, CEO, Tel: 800/994-3623.