An endorsement deal between Rogers-based residential array installer Shine Solar and Lou Holtz wrapped in April, but a new agreement with the legendary football coach isn’t off the table.
Caleb Gorden, co-founder and president of Shine Solar, said the deal began in January and contributed to increased brand credibility and sales.
“We got out of it exactly what we were hoping for,” Gorden said. The company is considering whether to do it again in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re just trying to assess timing more than anything right now, but it was definitely a success.”
COVID led Shine Solar to reduce marketing spending on traditional media, such as radio because of the fewer number of people listening in their vehicles, he said. But as people return to the media, Gorden said, the company looks to resume spending for the ads. He noted sales have remained steady with the reduced marketing spending amid the pandemic.
“I wouldn’t say it ever got bad for our industry,” he said. “I think we’ve had a lot of people at home thinking about improvements that they can do to their house, using more electricity because they’re at home now. And they’re working from home, so their electric bills are higher.”
Holtz and Shine Solar executives began talking in November about the deal after he completed research on the company. Holtz was selected to endorse the company because of his reputation and character, Gorden said.
“He has a really clean reputation,” he said. “And that was what was important to us. There’s no mark on Lou’s record. He’s kept a great image, and he’s a man of character.
“Anyone that knows who Lou Holtz is, if they see him tied to our brand, I think, we will get an instant lift in credibility as a brand just by nature of Lou Holtz’s name being tied to it. And that was what we experienced,” Gorden added.
Shine Solar executives were looking for someone who had a national presence with Arkansas ties. Holtz was the head football coach at the University of Arkansas between 1977 and 1983. He was a coach at Notre Dame and won a national championship in 1988. He completed his coaching career with the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2004 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
By late December, Holtz was recording radio ads for Shine Solar. He recorded more radio spots and TV ads in January when he came for a kickoff event for the campaign. The deal included an unlimited number of uses of his name and likeness.
“I would not put my name with this group if I wasn’t convinced that you could trust them, that they’re committed to excellence and that they care,” Holtz said. “Shine is the only solar company I stand behind, family-owned and right here in Arkansas.”
Shine Solar has installed nearly 3,000 arrays on homes, mostly in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. In 2019, revenue more than doubled to $23 million. The company has 185 employees and warehouses in Oklahoma City and Bentonville.