NASCAR: AMERICAN MADE

NASCAR has been an American sporting icon for decades. Thousands of American families of all ages and sizes enjoy NASCAR events on a weekly basis. Nothing helps create a fond family memory of these experiences like a piece of official NASCAR memorabilia such as a T-shirt or baseball cap. Unfortunately, the vast majority of NASCAR memorabilia is manufactured outside of the United States. Recently, a renewed effort has been made to bring manufacturing of these items back to within the United States of America.

Charlotte Motor Speedway has identified this issue and is taking strides to adjust the situation. Charlotte Motor Speedway is located in North Carolina and is owned by parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. SMI currently has a 50 percent share in the rights to a majority of NASCAR and team specific merchandise. Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has begun to direct the company to order as much “Made in the USA” merchandise as possible. Smaller items such as pens, key chains, and other similar trinkets will continue to be manufactured overseas. However, larger items such as sweatshirts and jackets will begin production inside the US.

Smith recognizes that this new operation will involve more cost but states that it is only right to have American-made merchandise for such a traditionally patriotic sport. Smith believes that American NASCAR patrons will be more inclined to purchase merchandise if they are visually assured that items are made here in the United States of America. HR

Sponsors–An Integral Part of NASCAR

Through the first part of the semester we have come to realize that sponsorship is integral to the efficient operation of any major NASCAR team. The movement of sponsors and drivers from team to team is called “silly season” within the sport and liken to free agency in others sports; when sponsors and drivers change teams it becomes big news. We’ve seen this all season with the announcements of many heavy hitting corporate sponsors leaving teams that they have been associated with for years. When DuPont, the long time sponsor of Jeff Gordon, announced that it would no longer sponsor the number 24 in Sprint Cup, questions were raised about whether Gordon would return to the sport or call it a career. When these sponsors decide to take their money elsewhere or leave the sport altogether, it leaves teams searching for anyone who will pick up the tab for the next season and beyond. NASCAR is a multi-million dollar sport, both in earnings and expense, so when a company such as Budweiser leaves Richard Petty Motorsports, it leaves some teams thinking if they will be able to field their team the next season.
So much of this sport is linked to corporate money and the ability to sell your image to highest possible bidder. As it was stated on the first day of class, NASCAR is one day of racing and six days of business. If you are unable to attract the big bucks during the week, you have a hard time keeping up on the track on Sunday. MP

Will NASCAR go Green?

The rising concern for our environment along with the fear of gas prices has lead more drivers to purchase hybrid cars. Overall, the latest move towards purchasing “green” products has increased sales for a variety of markets, the car industry in particular. Leading car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, Lexus, Nissan, Chevrolet, and many more understand the importance of developing a hybrid line for consumers and the environment.
Many corporate firms have joined the movement by supporting hybrid driving. Today, companies are investing in the popular Smart Cars, as part of their promotional strategy to represent support for the environment. Companies that are following this trend include Mobile 1, Verizon, Little Debbie, Lindt Chocolate, Target, McDonalds and many more. The SMART Car owned by Mobil 1 is an exact replica of the race car Sam Hornish Jr. drives during NASCAR races. From an article on businesswire.com, it is explained that Mobil 1’s motives are to express ExxonMobil’s support for the Alliance to Save Energy and its Drive Smarter Challenge.
How does this all relate to NASCAR? This multi-billion dollar industry is notorious for its speed, but with speed comes gasoline. The average race car gets 2-6 miles per gallon, whereas a hybrid car’s gas mileage ranges from 30-50 miles per gallon. Hopefully, you have noticed the discrepancy in mileage. Many environmentalists have criticized NASCAR as being a gas guzzling industry, and I am sure oil companies across the globe are proud to have race teams around for their own economic benefit. Considering the benefits of hybrid technology, will the leading racing industry be next to join this movement? HK

NASCAR and Sponsorship–Is It Worth It?

All marketers are essentially working for the same thing, introducing their product to new consumers and developing a lifelong customer relationship; the smart marketers invest in NASCAR. Studies have shown the brand loyalty between NASCAR sponsors and their fans is stronger than the loyalty between average consumers and their products of choice. It’s a pretty simple relationship: “I like Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he drives for Amp Energy Drink, therefore I like Amp,” and a new customer is born. The above example is easily changed to other drivers/ sponsors/products. Generally, this relationship lasts for years and in some cases passes from generation to generation. Yes, it can cost a company millions of dollars a year to be involved in the business of NASCAR, but spread that train of thought across a few million people and your ROI goes off the chart. There’s no denying that sponsorships in NASCAR cost a pretty penny-but for the most part, it’s worth it. CS

LIFE ON THE ROAD (From a vendor’s perspective)

When walking around the Midway at RIR during last weekend’s race, one can easily become overwhelmed when trying to “dig” through the thousands of options when it comes to NASCAR merchandise. Trailer after trailer lined the midway, tucked in nose to bumper. Each trailer is filled to capacity with a huge range of merchandise ranging from women’s earrings to ornate leather jackets. It’s easy enough to squeeze your way up to the gleaming glass counters and pick out that special t-shirt you’ve been wanting, but do you ever think of how much work is involved in running and setting up these shops on wheels?
Many of these vendors have been on the road for the entire racing season. Most never get a break from being on the road all the way from February through November. In every city, the displays in these trailers have to be rebuilt, mostly from scratch. The bumpy road makes keeping merchandise in the trailer’s glass display cases and on the counter tops impossible during travel. Upon arrival at the track, the trailers must be meticulously cleaned, which may take hours in the blistering heat of the summer. New shipments of merchandise must be retrieved from the track’s warehouse, counted out and then verified and recorded onto a spreadsheet. All of this needs to be completed before the fans start to arrive.
After the race, long after the fans clear the stands, the vendors must count out every single piece of merchandise in the trailers. If they are lucky, the total gross in cash will equal the total gross according to merchandise sold. All too often this is not the case, and the entire trailer has to be recounted to find the merchandise that was miscounted, which can take several hours.
After the finances have been settled, the exhausted vendors must then re-pack all of the merchandise and prepare the trailer for the road. At this point, it is usually the wee hours of the morning and the vending crew has now been on the job for 24 hours straight with no break and possibly faced with an overnight drive straight to the next city where the job will begin all over again. Better grab a coffee! KS

Current Events

There appears to be a lot of buzz surrounding this season of NASCAR. There also seems to be a lot of disappointment as far as sponsorship goes.

For instance, Wal-Mart just recently passed on sponsoring Jeff Gordon, who is arguably one of the better known names to the casual fans of NASCAR. Apparently Wal-Mart is seeking to have its presence felt across the sport among many drivers instead of just one. With Wal-Mart playing this financial game of lolligagging, the No. 24 still remains without a sponsor beginning in 2011.

On a lighter note, M&Ms host company, Mars Chocolate North America just got done holding its third annual “NASCAR’s Most Colorful Fan” contest. Entering was fairly simple: all you had to do was send a colorful racing themed photo. The incentive for entering was brilliant, as all participants received 15% off an online order on NASCAR.com’s superstore. Expect a winner to surface soon, as the contest just ended September 6!

CG

NASCAR’s B2B Model

With attendance numbers steadily declining at the tracks, are corporate sponsors becoming more concerned with where their investment dollars are going or is there more than what we see at the track? This is a question that top-level executives of companies such as Sprint, Aflac, UPS, Best Western, DuPont, and other major corporate sponsors continue to reassess. Over the years NASCAR has become an intriguing place to invest for major corporations not only because of fan loyalty but also because of the potential profitable relationships that can be developed via NASCAR’s B2B Model.

NASCAR’s B2B Council sets up events quarterly where official sponsors can get together and come up with ways to make their partnerships profitable. This forum for B2B partnerships makes NASCAR even more attractive for investment and keeps its sponsors happy with the valuable relationships they’re able to develop. A recent example of NASCAR’s B2B model is “NASCAR’s Fuel for Business Driving Business Award” winner Aflac. Aflac used NASCAR’s B2B event to establish profitable partnerships with companies who can use their services, such as Office Depot, Ford, and Cintas.

As attendance continues to decline, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR is able to continue to provide new avenues of value for its sponsors.

And that’s the view from here.

DO

NASCAR APPEALING TO FEMALE FANS: Raising Breast Cancer Awareness

With sponsors like Lowes, DuPont, Budweiser, The Home Depot, Miller Lite, Jack Daniel’s, and Red Bull, NASCAR sponsors are more appeasing to the male audience versus the female audience. For the month of October some sponsors chose to put a twist on things and appeal to the female audience.
The month of October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness month. To raise breast cancer awareness and to honor and remember those affected by breast cancer, four NASCAR teams took at least one car and tricked it out in pink. In an effort to contribute to the cause, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, North Carolina, the number 96 car driven by, Bobby Labonte, raced to raise breast cancer awareness to millions of Americans.
The sponsor Ask.com launched a full campaign for the month of October to raise breast cancer awareness among female Americans and all NASCAR fans. Many fans that already have their favorite drivers who they support temporarily chose to root for the “pretty in pink” race car to honor breast cancer awareness also. Among those drivers whose sponsors also tricked their cars out in pick colors to support the cause were Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch and Bill Elliott.
I think that this promotion was an excellent way to appeal to the female fan base of NASCAR. It shows support for those fighting the battle with cancer and respect for those who lost their lives to the battle of cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. One in eight women will get breast cancer. I feel that NASCAR’s efforts to educate and recognize its female fan base and millions of female Americans were very effective and efficient. I have three breast cancer survivors in my family and as a female I am statistically at risk also, so I truly can appreciate and respect the efforts that NASCAR took to support the cause in raising Breast Cancer Awareness not only to race fans but also to millions of Americans.
Outside of the support NASCAR gave in raising breast cancer awareness, I still feel that there is a lack of female targeting sponsors within the business. I feel that NASCAR should touch bases with this matter and gain more sponsors to reach and appeal to its female fan base. Although the breast cancer campaigns that some sponsors ran during the short thirty one day month of October were successful in the attempt to connect with the female fan base, I still feel that just that alone isn’t enough and that there should be more.
And that’s the view from here.
CD

WHAT IS GOING ON?

As a brand new NASCAR fan, I am enjoying the array of sponsors and recognizing their specific products in stores. I can see now where the brand loyalty statistics come from because just today I saw Coke Zero in a grocery store and remembered getting a sample of it at the concessions at RIR. However, it has been reported recently that many big brand sponsors are pulling out of the Sprint Cup Series. Jim Beam and Jack Daniels both announced recently that they are not including NASCAR in their marketing plans in the near future. In addition, Lowe’s has announced that it will not hold the naming rights for the Lowe’s Motor Speedway after an 11-year relationship with Speedway Motorsports Inc. Is the declining economy to blame? Are companies struggling with the high costs of marketing and advertising their products within the Sprint Cup Series? It is really interesting and coincidental that two liquor companies pulled out, one after the other. Are NASCAR fans more likely to buy beer than liquor? What is the future for alcoholic beverages and sponsorship?

I am not sure exactly what is going on with these particular companies but I am assuming it is a combination of issues. It will be interesting to see what happens with the naming rights of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and if any other alcoholic beverage company announces an ending sponsorship.

And that’s the view from here.

SM

NASCAR’s Sponsorship Slump

As drivers continue to qualify for the upcoming races, many teams are scrambling to secure sponsors to even finish out the season. With the economic downturn, many of the sponsors are rethinking contracts and wondering if NASCAR is still a good investment.

Jimmie Johnson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in May, “The economy has changed the way a lot of companies do business, but most of our sponsors are confident that NASCAR is a solid investment.”

Although the bigger companies still think NASCAR is a great investment, anxious shareholders are simply seeing stock values decline.
Andrew Glangola mentions that race fans are consciously loyal to the sponsors on the cars. Some sponsors are becoming part-time, but even this is better than nothing. About 400 sponsors are involved with NASCAR in some level because they know it works. Being affiliated with this sport brings in revenue.

Though some of the sponsors are backing out, most know that NASCAR still is a solid investment and that is enough to at least be somewhat involved with the sport.

And that’s the view from here.

CC