At the end of January, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was awarded an endorsement deal with Skittles. According to a press release Thursday morning, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch will be joining him. For two Sprint Cup races this year, Busch’s number 18 Toyota Camry will bring Skittles back to NASCAR nation. Busch will debut the candy-themed paint scheme at the Phoenix race on March 2, and then will bring it back for a second race in Bristol, TN on March 16.
Marshawn Lynch and Seattle brought end-zone celebrations to a whole new level with the NFL faithful beginning to throw the candies onto the field after touchdowns. This began when the media got wind of the story that the Seahawks star used to receive skittles from his mother as a reward for good behavior. The inducement appears to be working, as evidenced by the 12 touchdowns he has put up on the board this season. Kyle Busch is hoping that joining with skittles this year will help him to see the winner’s circle in Phoenix and Bristol.
Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch’s team, has had a long-time relationship with Mars , Inc. Mars is the parent company of Wrigley, who makes the Skittles brand. Skittles joins an assortment of candy treats that will be gracing the Gibbs cars this year. Also to be featured are a Doublemint gum car, an M&M car, and a Snickers car. Like the Seattle Seahawks star, Kyle Busch claims an affinity for the rainbow-colored candies from childhood. Busch, however, has not reached the same level of affinity for the brand that Marshawn Lynch has achieved. The story of his mother rewarding him with Skittles has become legendary. Fans pelt him with the candies every time he enters the end zone, and the brand has even begun to manufacture a limited edition version of the treat in his honor. Maybe a win at Phoenix or Bristol will prompt a limited edition NASCAR version as well.
It has been more than ten years since Skittles last graced the side of a NASCAR vehicle. The first car to be sponsored was in 1998, with the number 36 driver, Derrike Cope, followed the next year by Ernie Irvan. Ervan took the number 36 Pontiac to the pole in Indianapolis that year. Busch will look to take the Skittles legacy a step further as he races for the checkered flag in those races. Busch has demonstrated the driving skill to be a contender this year, though many competitors find his “fast-and-loose” approach to be a little too reckless. Joe Gibbs racing, however, has stayed with him, and seen the benefits of backing the sometimes loose cannon. He is either loved or hated by NASCAR fans, and that is pretty much exactly what any driver hopes for. Far better in the minds of most to be talked about than to be ignored. Busch excels in the environment, virtually dominating the Nationwide series during his stint there.
Once Marshawn Lynch marches into the off-season, Kyle Busch will be waiting to pick up the mantle. When the Super Bowl is over, and The Seattle Seahawks have won or lost, Skittles has already lined up their next sports marketing engine. This one, of course, is attached to an actual engine.
By Shannon Malone