Drone Racing League Seeks New Heights with BodyArmor, Champion, Respawn Pacts

Randall Williams
·2 min read

Nearly a month after striking a five-year deal with Genius Sports to help get approved for legal sports gambling, the Drone Racing League has found three more partners to help the company reach new heights.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, which will be simulcast on NBC, Twitter and Facebook, the DRL has inked with sports drink company BodyArmor, apparel brand Champion and gaming furniture brand Respawn in an attempt not only to reach new viewers but also to bring new experiences to the league’s existing fans.

Champion is designing limited-edition DRL Flight Suit sweatshirts and sweatpants that will be available for sale on both companies’ sites. The collaboration, which also includes a digital campaign and a national commercial spot, originated when DRL president Rachel Jacobson reconnected with Jonathan Ram, the president of Hanesbrands Inc. (Champion’s parent company), with whom she had worked at the NBA over 20 years ago.

For the pact with BodyArmor, Jacobson said she began thinking about a partnership her first week on the job, in late April. The drink company’s ambassadors include top athletes like Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe, but BodyArmor’s new partnership with the DRL is its first with a nontraditional sport. “We don’t overlap with the stick-and-ball sports that they’ve already partnered with,” Jacobson said. “When you think about their golfers, NBA players and all different categories that they have, we’re helping them reach millions of fans that don’t watch traditional sports but still need a sports drink to hydrate them.”

The partnership has already yielded viral marketing stunts such as a recent video where a DRL pilot hooked a BodyArmor drink to his drone and flew it around a neighborhood before finally popping the cap open to take a sip.

The DRL’s deal with Respawn was sparked in part by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re all working from home right now,” Jacobson said. “Whether you’re a gamer or whatever your profession is, to actually be in front of the computer all day…. furniture becomes such a key part of the equation.”

DRL racers will compete in chairs made by Respawn, which was founded in 2017 by global office furniture giant HNI Corporation. The brand currently sells both gaming chairs and desks, each designed for ultimate user comfort.

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