Last week, VP Racing Fuels, a marketer of performance fuels, lubricants, and additives, and its agency Pacific Swell Brands promoted a deal with Mattel calling for the VP Racing IP to be featured on Hot Wheels cars. The first product to highlight the brand will be the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, which races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, of which VP Racing Fuels is the official fuel sponsor.
VP Racing Fuels is one of a number of chemical brands meant to maximize a car’s performance and appearance that are involved in licensing, with many of them having well-established programs. Some examples:
- Motor oil brand Pennzoil is represented by Beanstalk and is one of its longest-tenured clients, coming to the agency with its acquisition of Nancy Bailey & Associates years ago. Pennzoil, which is owned by Shell, has been featured on products including apparel, home décor, stationery, and items geared toward racing fans, as well as automotive brand extensions from licensees including Custom Accessories, American Distribution Company, and Navajo. Beanstalk also represents Pennzoil’s sibling company within Shell, the motor oil brand Quaker State.
- Turtle Wax, a maker of detailing and other car care products, has been represented by Global Icons since 2018. The brand’s licensees around the world focus mostly on the automotive sector and include JT Beaven (brushes, cloths, sponges), Argento SC (air fresheners, windshield wipers, repair kits, pet products), Huabiao Industrial (seat covers, floor mats, cushions, wiper blades), and Select (electronic and powered cleaners). It also holds a license with Resources International to sell Turtle Wax-branded cleaner and disinfectant using Byotrol24 technology. On the collectibles side, the company has worked with Greenlight.
- STP, a brand of fuel and oil additives, motor oil, and functional fluids that has a high profile as a racing sponsor, is owned by Energizer Holdings and licensed by IMG. Some of its licensees within the automotive industry have included Recochem for antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid, Marathon for petroleum additives, Kost USA for coolants, and Martin Lubricants for fuel treatments. Beyond the automotive space, IMG has worked with companies such as Buckle-Down (belts), Open Road Brands (home decor), H3 Sportswear (apparel), and Replicarz (collectibles) to offer STP-branded products.
- Armor All, which like STP is owned by Energizer Holdings and licensed by IMG, is known for its waxes, polishes, and protectants. Some of its licensees have included LifeWorks Technologies (tools, storage, first aid kits, wheel covers, cushions), Blue Rhino (grill covers), Cleva North America (floor runners), Rechochem (fluids), and Xtreme (power accessories, gadgets, dash cams, audio devices, tire gauges).
- In addition to its new deal with Mattel, VP Racing Fuels has agreements with M2 Machines for die-cast vehicles, Johnny Rockstar Clothing for apparel, headwear, gifts, and novelty products, Advanced Graphics for standees, and T-Line Design for apparel, all announced in February 2020. On the brand-extension side, VP works with Mr. Brands for automotive accessories, windshield wipers, and auto care accessories. Pacific Swell has been representing the brand since 2019.
Other brands that have been involved in licensing over the years have ranged from Valvoline to Castrol.
While it is certainly possible for properties such as the brands listed here to enter into short-term collaborations for fashion and the like, as many corporate brands do, IP owners in this sector tend to favor long-term licensing deals. This is true in automotive-related brand extension and in novelties, lifestyle items, and collectibles, both for their core brands and for co-branded efforts tied to their racing sponsorships.