California Chrome Signs Skechers Endorsement Deal Prior To Belmont

Yes, the racehorse California Chrome signed an endorsement deal with the shoe brand Skechers. How? Well by presumably sticking a hoof in ink and putting it on the contract, silly.

All kidding aside, Skechers has taken a calculated risk by signing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to a lucrative deal before its potentially historic running in the Belmont Stakes. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, it is the largest equine agreement since UPS advertised on Big Brown in 2008. Though hard details have not been divulged, Rovell reports that Skechers will be able to use Chrome in marketing materials for a month following the Belmont Stakes.

So why is this a calculated risk? On one hand it’s a shoe company (despite CEO Robert Greenberg’s sentiment that Skechers is a “marketing company that just happens to be in the footwear business”) advertising on a horse. Unlike the Big Brown-UPS-What can Brown do for you correlation in ’08, there is no obvious connection between Skechers, its tagline and California Chrome.

On the other hand, should Chrome win it all Skechers will forever be etched in history books. Every photograph, advertisement, news story and documentary will show the logo. Even without a win, Chrome will receive the lion’s share of TV coverage on Sunday, thus giving the company some return.

Greenberg acknowledges as much, and seems happy with the gamble, saying, “We’re spending a couple bucks to the roll the dice and if this horse wins it all, we’ll be part of it.”

But still: a horse hocking shoes? That’s as crazy as, I don’t know, dogs playing poker.