Unveiled this weekend in Madrid, Paris Hilton was on-hand in her pink, blue, and white skin tight set of leathers to help promote her latest business endeavor (her words, not ours): Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton. While we generally hate everything about Paris Hilton, and even try to avoid staying in Hilton hotels just for good measure, we do have to say one thing: this weekend’s launch of the SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton Team is arguably the largest team launch in history of GP racing (in one of the worst economic climates ever for the sport)…and that includes the upcoming Wrooom launch of Valentino Rossi and Ducati Corse.
Tweeting throughout the weekend about the launch and her business endeavors with SuperMartxé VIP, Hilton reached the hearts and minds of over 3.1 million Twitter followers with her 140 characters or less messages. That reach in readership easily eclipses the entire GP grid’s combined follower count, where even MotoGP’s official Twitter account boasts only 46,000 or so followers (for reference: social media savvy rider, and current MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo tops the GP twitter list with 89,000 Twitter followers).
Of course Twitter is just one media outlet, but the star power of Hilton and her borderline personality helped lure media coverage from the largest traditional publications in both print and online form. The LA Times, NY Times, Huffington Post, & Sports Illustrated all covered the Team SuperMartxé VIP by Paris Hilton launch, and even the always classy FOX News got in on the action, lobbing a few shots at Hilton along the way.
While Rossi and Ducati will get their fair share of coverage at the upcoming Wrooom event in January, the Italian-duo, perhaps one of the longest rumored and wanted partnerships in modern GP racing, will only garner at best a tenth of the buzz compared to this weekend. Let’s keep things in perspective too, this is a 125 GP race team, the same series that competes against late night weight loss infomercials for TV ratings on SPEEDTV, and not MotoGP, the media darling of motorcycle racing. Consider that, and the allure of mainstream celebrity endorsements becomes enticing.
Throw in some scantily clad photos of Hilton busting (pun intended) out of her zippered leathers, and it really becomes a moot point as to whether or not you even know what SuperMartxé VIP sells to teenagers in Spain, as those photos will be all over the motorcycle message boards in the next few dats (wait, they already are) with comments like “that’s hot” accompanied with emoticons and images that say “I’d hit it”.
While there’s no doubt that Paris Hilton’s involvement in GP racing and with the SuperMartxé VIP squad has helped thrust the team and sport into a larger audience’s attention span, the problem with “sex sells” marketing schemes once again rears its ugly head when it comes down to ROI. A marketing technique generally reserve for the lazy or desperate, putting a pin-up girl next to a product is the go-to technique for hocking wares in the motorcycle industry. Something that’s lost on this industry, and admittedly in even our nation’s top business school, is the fact people (read: men) rarely remember the product in the ad when a pretty girl is next to. For example, we’ve never seen someone look at a Fast Dates Calendar, and then say “man I’ve gotta buy that Yamaha.”
Deliberately left out of this article’s contents, +5 bonus points to any reader who now knows the names of SuperMartxé VIP’s two riders or Team Managers (no points awarded if you already knew the line-up from the former-BQR Team or are one of the 14 people in the United States that actually follows 125GP). At best viewers worldwide will be able to spot easily the pink livery during a race, and associate that color with something to do with Paris Hilton…and if we’re really lucky they might remember the headline sponsor SuperMartxé VIP (we wouldn’t hold our breath on this one outside of the Spanish markets).
But it’s the Hollywood socialite that’s the big winner this weekend, getting the clock to her 15 minutes of fame reset, Paris Hilton has managed to engage and entire market vertical that normally wouldn’t give her the time of day, and infect it with her personal brand, pushing her buzz meter and sponsorhip endorsement value ever higher. Getting the short-end of the stick, we doubt 125GP ratings will go up even a tick when the season kicks off for the last time in March.
Yes, we just got bamboozled by one of the dumbest people in Hollywood. Damn.