Catching Up With Jagermiester’s Rick Zeiler

Shortly after hearing the news about the new partnership between Jagermeister and the MDK KTM factory team, we tracked down Rick Zeiler of Sidney Frank Importing, the company responsible for the exciting new outside-the-industry sponsorship.
What attracted Jagermeister to motocross, and how did you end up choosing MDK KTM?
Jagermeister has been interested in motocross for many years. We actually looked at sponsoring the Moto XXX team about seven our eight years ago through Jamie Grosser, but the timing wasn’t right for us. I’d say for the past 10 years or so we’ve really been putting our focus on music promotions for the brand, and in order to extend our reach we took another close look at Supercross and it was a perfect fit for the brand. Supercross has a much edgier crowd compared to other sports like NASCAR and the graphics were perfect for the brand, so we decided it was a good fit and the timing was right.

A few years ago I recall seeing the Metal Mulisha guys with Jagermeister logos painted on their helmets. Was there some sort of official sponsorship with them at the time?

Actually there was. We did sponsor the Metal Mulisha about six years ago, and I guess our claim to fame is when Brian Deegan did the Mulisha Twist at X Games and won the gold medal wearing the Jagermeister helmet.

I understand that there is a requirement for the riders on the team that they need to be over 21?

They need to be 21 or over, but if we decide to use them in any marketing materials then they need to be over the age of 25. I believe Charles Summey is under 25 and Travis Preston is over 25. I know you asked me how we ended up working with MDK and KTM, and I guess the answer to that is when we started showing some interest in Supercross we had a lot of people approach us for various sponsorship opportunities, which I am sure you can imagine. We saw that a lot of teams were already associated with drinks: Monster Energy Kawasaki, Rockstar Suzuki, and Red Bull Honda. We then realized that KTM did not have any major brand affiliation and it just seemed like the total package for us because we had KTM, which is from Europe like our brand, but also it came with Mark Kvamme of MDK and everything he brings to the table. He is a huge asset to the team and has a great understanding of business and marketing. So, being able to link up with Mark just felt like the perfect partnership.

Where exactly is Jagermeister produced?

Wolfenbuttel, Germany.

Is this the only sports affiliation that Jagermeister has?

We are actually getting into an area of Rodeo (laughs). We’re sponsoring something that is called The Toughest Cowboy; it is kind of unrelated to any motor sport, but we did do an NHRA sponsorship a couple of years ago that was good the first year and then we decided to discontinue the program during its third year. The Supercross and motocross series is something that we’ve been looking at forever and the time is right, it couldn’t be better. The sport is growing, and I really believe that Jagermeister is going to be a perfect fit out there. Everybody that I’ve spoke with in regards to Jagermeister being involved in the Supercross and motocross events is surprised that we didn’t think of this before (laughs). It’s not that we haven’t, but the timing was just not right.

This is the first time that you’ve mentioned motocross, so is it going to be a Supercross-only contract or will it be Supercross and motocross?
It is for both Supercross and motocross. Our team will be doing both Supercross and motocross, and I am trying to work with Davey Coombs to cut a deal to do the outdoor series as well. That’s work in progress, but the Supercross deal is in inked and ready to go.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see some righteous Internet message board bandits say that it’s a bad idea to bring an alcohol sponsorship into our sport. Have you encountered anything like this and if not, how do you plan to counter it?
People are always going to have their opinions and we certainly respect those opinions, so we subscribe to a council which oversees our sponsorships as well as the entire business. For Supercross, the demographic information that has been given to us meets the criteria. Honestly, if we do encounter such a problem we’ll just address it when we need to. We hope that we have a smooth transition into the sport and that people will see us as something positive in this sport. I can’t speak for Bud Light, but I think we’ll end up bringing a lot more to the table than just Jagermeister, you know? People have their own opinions and we’ll address them when they come up, but we’re very comfortable with our decision and we’re excited about it.