By Christian Bottorff.
The 2011 CMA Music Festival was the tipping point for a unique marketing partnership between rising Country star Jason Sturgeon — a self-proclaimed gearhead — and the famous Skyjacker Suspensions he idolized growing up in small-town Indiana, where driving oversized trucks through the mud was a way of life.
Last year at CMA Music Festival, Sturgeon brought the jacked-up, family hand-me-down red Chevy truck to the Power Zone that appeared in his music video for the song, “Simple life” (written by Sturgeon and Dane Clark). As seen in the video, a Skyjacker sticker is on the back of the old truck, and that caught the eye of Martin & Company Advertising executives, who were partners with CMA in organizing the Power Zone. Martin reps asked Sturgeon to bring it, and while at the Festival, Sturgeon and Skyjacker, which was also a Power Zone sponsor, started talking business.
“It was a perfect fit,” says Sturgeon, now a Skyjacker spokesman who has written the theme to the upcoming 2012 Monster Truck Nationals Tour, “Time Bomb.” “It’s all a part of my life. Plus, it’s a great organization, with good people involved. And it’s the same demo. We’re reaching the same folks that they are trying to reach.”
Sturgeon will also be working on an upcoming episode of “Gearz” on the Speed cable channel, where he will help host Stacey David install a Skyjacker Suspensions lift kit on a Chevrolet truck. And then they’ll take it for a spin.
Skyjacker Suspensions has partnered in the past with other Country stars, including Tim McGraw, who drove a Jeep outfitted with a Skyjacker lift kit to a Camp Jeep event. Skyjacker executives see a bright future for Sturgeon, whose simple, down-home style reaches a younger, male, outdoors-oriented fan base — a target demographic for selling their truck lift kits. Plus, pairing with the Country Music format fits well with the accessories company, said Lee McGuire, Director of Marketing and Operations, Skyjacker Suspensions.
“Country over the last five to 10 years has become more mainstream,” McGuire said. “A lot of people outside of Country would know who your Country artists are. It’s become part of so many people’s lives. You may not be a big fan, but you know these artists. That crossover has been big over the past several years, and that’s important to us too.”
Sturgeon’s manager and Toolpusher Records head Dennis Kurtz says it feels right, too, to partner with a product the artist uses and loves. “The whole automobile aftermarket thing is great because Jason is a gearhead and already likes and uses Skyjacker products,” he said. “And it’s easy for him to talk about them. It’s a symbiotic, organic relationship.”