Dow Chemical’s Sports Sponsorship: An Unexpected Bond

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This article is powered by the SMU Sport Management Program.

Dow Chemical has achieved success in sports sponsorship, especially NASCAR. Photo via The Franklin Institute.

By: Zach Seybert, @zlseybert

When one reads about the Dow Chemical Company, or “Dow”, it is typically not associated with anything having to do with sports. In fact, the company provides chemical, plastic, and agricultural products and services to consumer markets that include food, transportation, health and medicine, personal care and construction. It is a global company, operating in approximately 180 countries. As is often the case when dealing with chemicals, the company found a certain bond to the sports sponsorship landscape.

The company has been sponsoring Olympic athletes, NASCAR drivers and golfers. In addition to being the third largest chemical company in the world in terms of revenue, Dow is looking to bring in additional revenue through these sponsorships.

According to, these sponsorships have: strengthened customer relationships, provided access to new sales channels, showcased technology and innovation, promoted sustainability and enhanced the Dow brand. Given the global nature of the company, Dow is looking to expand its sports sponsorship portfolio to the global scale.

“Our involvement with the Olympics and NASCAR woke us up to say ‘where else do we need to go?’ We’re evaluating sports now and for the future,” said Rick Penn, Dow Chemical Co.’s director of global sales and sports sponsorship.

The main message of its sponsorships focuses on the theme of sustainability. This can be seen from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, when Dow leveraged its partnership with the IOC to become the “official carbon partner” in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Switching gears, almost literally, with NASCAR drivers and their cars being fast-moving billboards, Dow saw an opportunity to enter the scene and sponsor a driver. In 2013, Dow sponsored Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing. The sponsorship was years in the making, as each party had to find a common ground of integrating Dow products into the race experience.

NASCAR, and racing in general, seems to be the most fitting of sports for Dow to advertise its products. With lubricants, greases, etc. that could enhance a team’s performance on the track, the partnership seems like a no brainer. However, it is never that easy. RCR engineers worked with Dow chemists for more than a year testing these products. The company uses the product integration to showcase its innovation in front of prospects and customers at the RCR shop.

Since its initial dive into NASCAR sponsorship, Dow has expanded its portfolio in a three-year partnership with Austin Dillon and his number 3 car, sponsoring the drive in the majority of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

When reading up on new sponsorships it seems that some companies have pretty clear ties to sports. Upon first glance, Dow Chemical is certainly not one of them. However, when diving deeper and understanding the span that Dow has across various industries, NASCAR and other racing sports line up with the company’s missions creating a perfect sponsorship opportunity.