SBD/Issue 198/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Laugh Tracks: New NASCAR Ads Reach Out Through Humor

Jeremy Mayfield Stars In
Humorous Nextel TV Spot

An influx of “big-ticket companies into the [NASCAR] Nextel Cup Series has resulted in a rise of big-budget ads featuring drivers in self-deprecating situations,” according to a sports section Cover Story by Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. During the June 25 telecast of the Nextel Cup Dodge/Save Mart 350, “roughly one out of four commercials involved a driver doing something humorous.” NASCAR team owner and driver Kyle Petty said, “The sport has grown to having companies spending as much as $40[M] on a program, and that can’t all be motor sports-specific marketing.” Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “NASCAR drivers always have been approachable. This series of advertisements really reinforces that and makes them appear to be everyday guys who don’t take themselves too seriously.” Just Marketing Founder Zak Brown said drivers “love the creative spots because it helps bring out their personality, which then attracts a larger audience that translates into merchandise sales.” However, Ryan notes “there are limits to the jokes.” Roush Racing President Geoff Smith said that his team has “nixed a few of its sponsors’ ads because they were ‘in extremely poor taste and used our team to ridicule the sport.” NASCAR Dir of Business Communications Andrew Giangola said that the series has “final approval of commercials involving official sponsors,” although it has not “nixed any” (USA TODAY, 7/12).

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NASCAR, Nike, PepsiCo

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