84-Year-Old Miracle Whip Just Inked a Sponsorship Deal With an Octogenarian Basketball Team

ESPN helped bring the San Diego Splash to national attention

Like a lot of major brands, Miracle Whip has decided to sink some of its marketing dollars into sports sponsorships. Unlike other brands, however, it’s chosen to underwrite a team with no famous stars, no major-league presence and no big arena to call home.

The Kraft-owned condiment brand just announced a new partnership with the San Diego Splash, a women’s basketball team whose players are all over 80.

Setting aside the eyebrow-raising fact that these silver-haired athletes actually play a pretty mean game of hoops, the operative question here is: What does a senior-league team have to do with Miracle Whip? Actually, more than you might think.

Unbeknownst to most shoppers, Miracle Whip is actually 84 years old. The brand debuted at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 and, what’s more, this year it decided to return to its original “gold standard” recipe inspired by the formula that attendees first tasted at the fair. (Miracle Whip was actually the nickname of the emulsifying machine that blended mayonnaise with 20 spices and other ingredients to make a sweet, tangy condiment to be used on sandwiches and salads.) So while the brand was busy looking at its heritage, a team of octogenarians struck marketing director Matt Carpenter as worth looking into, too.

“Our brand purpose is with its heritage, and the best things being passed on,” Carpenter told Adweek. “So just seeing these ladies touching people of all ages lined up with how we think about our brand.”

Carpenter credits espnW, ESPN’s platform dedicated to women’s sports, for bringing the Splash to national attention with a segment it aired in June—one so popular it’s since racked up 24,000 Facebook shares and about 12 million views overall. Carpenter, like many viewers, was inspired by the footage of the women, some of them in their 90s, lacing up, sinking baskets and facing down opposing teams with considerable competitive vigor. “They’re challenging consumers to think differently about what people can achieve in this stage of their lives,” he said.

It also worked out that several members of the Splash not only like Miracle Whip, but remember the brand from their childhoods, when it was a new product.

“I’ve been a Miracle Whip fan since I was 3 years old,” said team member Jean Field. “My grandparents had it in their icebox. My mother had it in her refrigerator. And it’s been in my refrigerator and my kids’ refrigerators for years.”

Thus far, Miracle Whip has no formal plans to feature the team in any marketing initiatives, though Carpenter hasn’t ruled out that possibility. Clearly, the advantage for the brand is the simple association with a team whose spirit and attitude is infectious—and all over the internet.

And what does the team get out of this deal? Well, probably not six-figure royalty checks. But Miracle Whip is contributing to the team’s scholarship program, paying its league fees and popping for some warm-up gear.

Oh, and the ladies probably won’t have to pay for Miracle Whip anymore. “They’re all set up with potato salad and BLTs for quite some time,” Carpenter said.

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