California Chrome Is Skechers' New Face (Or, Um, Hooves)

Shoe brand Skechers has inked an endorsement deal with a new celebrity, and he's kind of a big deal. In fact, he may be making history this Saturday, June 7, by accomplishing a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1978. We're talking about California Chrome, the new, er, face of Skechers who's defied some big odds to get to where he is — poised to win the Triple Crown at this Saturday's Belmont Stakes. This horse is so hot right now that apparel and shoe giant Skechers apparently wanted in on the action, inking a sponsorship deal that will cover California Chrome in the lead-up to the race.

As unusual as the deal might sound, it might just be a partnership made in marketing heaven. The buzz surrounding the horse's chances of winning the Triple Crown at Belmont is deafening, and Skechers is capitalizing on the hype by associating its brand with all things California Chrome. Skechers will appear on the horse's handlers' apparel, the horse's fly sheet (blankets that provide the horse fly and sun protection), and the barn at Belmont Park.

"We're a marketing company that just happens to be in the footwear business," Robert Greenberg, the chief executive for Skechers, told ESPN. "We're spending a couple bucks to the roll the dice and if this horse wins it all, we'll be part of it."

Not only is the deal smart in terms of visibility, it also makes sense in terms of demographic. The average Skechers customer has become older in the last few years, with recent deals including retired athletes like Joe Mantana, Joe Namath, and Pete Rose — the latter two are in their 70s. (That's a far cry from the controversy-plagued endorsement deal the company had with Kim Kardashian in 2011.) The shoe brand's current targeted market is in their 50s and 60s, which matches the age of the average Triple Crown television viewer.

Besides the possibility of some strangely shaped Skechers Shape-ups, you can expect to see California Chrome repping some other brands as well. Since the horse's popularity shot through the roof after winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, his owners have filed to trademark California Chrome and hired marketing firm Leverage Agency and Meticulous Talent Management to handle his marketing deals. Leverage CEO Ben Sturner is promising two other deals for California Chrome by Saturday.

We told you he was hot right now.

We're rooting for California Chrome to take the Triple Crown title, but we're also fantasizing about all the other endorsements he could rock. So don't be a neigh-sayer; let's make California Chrome even hotter...

California Chrome + Goody Hair Accessories

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Sure, he may be a colt, but California Chrome would probably clip on some barrettes just to keep his mane out of his face.

California Chrome + Under Armour

For those colder nights, California Chrome could really use one of Under Armour's signature thermal bodysuits. Also perfect if he ever wanted to try skiing.

California Chrome + Philip Treacy

Nothing says a day at the races like a fancy hat or fascinator, and what better accessory for a race horse than a handmade Philip Treacy hat? We think California Chrome is secure enough in his colthood to wear it proudly.

California Chrome + American Apparel

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Regular splint boots are so not cute. They may be necessary for protecting a horse's legs during exercise, but that doesn't mean they can't also be stylish. Imagine the hipster pizzazz American Apparel can add to these functional accessories.