KFC Links to Beach Volleyball

In an attempt to underscore the healthy positioning of its new grilled chicken line, Kentucky Fried Chicken is linking with AVP, the beach volleyball league.

The two-year deal, which starts this month, includes a Grill Zone for player interviews as well as title sponsorship to the Crocs Cup Championships in Chicago on Aug. 27-30. KFC replaces McDonald’s, which had been with the AVP since 2002.

Javier Benito, evp-marketing and food innovation at KFC, said there is a “natural connection” between Kentucky Grilled Chicken and the AVP. “It connotes what the new product is all about,” he said. “When you think about grilling you think about beach volleyball.” The line, which has about half the calories of KFC’s eponymous entrée, also has a strong health component that ties in with the active nature of beach volleyball, Benito said.

The deal, put together by the Leverage Agency, New York, comes as the AVP’s biggest stars—Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh—are out of commission this season. “This is the year where people are going to get to know the rest of the team,” said AVP CEO Jason Hodell. The league has about 250,000 hardcore followers and gets exposure to about 20 million people, Hodell said.