SBD/22/Leagues Governing Bodies

NASCAR TARGETS KIDS, BUT MUST DANCE AROUND RJR'S SPONSORSHIP

          To "broaden" its appeal and "increase its popularity,
     NASCAR is targeting young customers with everything from
     amusement parks to NASCAR Barbie, grooming its next
     generation of fans even as TV ratings and race-day
     attendance soar," according to Liz Clarke in a front-page
     feature in the WASHINGTON POST.   NASCAR's Dir of
     Communications Worldwide John Griffin: "We're going after
     youth as a whole.  We want to continue in our direction of
     becoming more of a white-collar sport, where it's mom, dad
     and the kids sitting around the TV and rooting for their
     favorite driver on Sunday.  We're going after urban youth as
     much as any other youth" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22).      
          YOUTH MARKET: Clarke reports that as part of the
     "campaign," tracks are "turning into family-friendly
     venues," drivers are "taking care to connect with young
     fans," NASCAR-themed parks, cafes and retail stores are
     increasing, as are NASCAR toys and games, and plans for a
     Saturday morning NASCAR cartoon are "in the works."   But as
     NASCAR "shifts its marketing focus toward kids, steering
     around" series sponsor R.J. Reynolds and its Winston brand
     "calls for deft maneuvers."  Clarke writes that despite
     RJR's $30M annual support and $5M in prize money, "when it
     comes to NASCAR-licensed ventures aimed at kids, Winston's
     logo is conspicuously absent."  The NASCAR Barbie Doll is
     "authentic down to the associate sponsors' patches" on her
     suit, minus any reference to Winston.  The Cartoon Network
     is an associate sponsor of a NASCAR team, and Cartoon
     Network VP Bob Bryant said the net steps "lightly when it
     comes to the Winston Cup.  We obviously do everything we can
     not to directly associate the (cartoon) characters and the
     (cigarette) brand."  But Cliff Pennell, RJR's Sports
     Marketing Enterprises President, said that the company has
     no interest in NASCAR's youth initiatives: "This isn't about
     getting anyone -- regardless of their age -- to smoke.  It's
     about trying to convert and switch adult smokers to our
     product."  Clarke: "Yet, as NASCAR seeks a younger, more
     affluent and urban audience, its tobacco backing doesn't
     strengthen its hand as effectively as a sneaker company or a
     soft drink bottler might" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22). 

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