On track with Fisher

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Procter & Gamble Co. this month expanded its auto racing involvement by joining supermarket retailer Kroger Co. in sponsoring Sarah Fisher, billed as the fastest woman driver in the world.

The 20-year-old Ms. Fisher will help promote various personal and household products targeting women and families in P&G's first Indy Racing League sponsorship.

"More than half of the audience for racing consists of women and families, and with Sarah we're bringing a role model and a spokeswoman to the track who is a loyal, real-life Kroger shopper and a user of our brands to underscore that connection," says Rich DePencier, a P&G marketing director.

Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket retailer, will cooperate with P&G in local promotions in 10 cities on the IRL's 13-city race circuit this year; 1,500 Kroger-owned stores will be involved including those under the Fry's, Dillons, King Sooper and Kroger names.

Local TV, radio, print and outdoor ads will support promotions at Kroger stores surrounding races in each market, with discounts on featured P&G merchandise and sweepstakes to win prizes such as discounted IRL tickets and trips.

Ms. Fisher will appear in localized TV spots, and she's also scheduled to visit Kroger stores with an exhibition version of her car. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Cooperative, New York, handles.


Brands festooning the No. 15 car driven by Ms. Fisher will include the appropriate Kroger store name in each market, plus P&G's Bounty paper towels, Crest oral care, Folgers coffee, Gain laundry detergent, Iams pet food, Olay beauty products, Pantene haircare and Always feminine care.

Walker Racing, the car's owner, said it may add two more supporting sponsors in other categories. P&G and Kroger wouldn't disclose the cost of their sponsorship.

Kroger and P&G have been active in Nascar in the past, and P&G also is entering its third season as a sponsor of sprint car competitions with Hoffman Racing in the Silver Crown series.

In her first race March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway, Ms. Fisher finished 17th out of a field of 27. Although women have driven in the IRL previously, there currently are no others on the circuit, said Walker Racing executives.

"In the IRL, cars get up to 200 miles per hour, which makes Sarah the fastest woman in the world right now," said Derrick Walker, the team's owner.

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