SBD/Issue 103/NASCAR Season Preview

Red Bull Planning Subtle Approach To First Nextel Cup Season

By Brad Pinkerton, Staff Writer

Red Bull Not Planning Any High-Energy
Promotions Around Nextel Cup Debut

In its first season in NASCAR’s top circuit, Team Red Bull is planning to take an unexpectedly low-key approach to marketing its two Nextel Cup teams. Although the company has a penchant for elaborate events to promote its energy drink, Team Red Bull spokesperson Steve Pegram said there is “really nothing of significance planned” around its Nextel Cup debut. Instead, Red Bull will look to make its Toyota teams competitive before rolling out the in-your-face marketing initiatives. “It’s first and foremost about competition, so we’re looking to put a competitive product on the racetrack,” Pegram said. “There will be some things that we bring into NASCAR that may not be big and spendy like other sponsors, but they’ll be progressive, unique and a different approach.” He indicated there will be an at-track presence across different NASCAR markets, but would not divulge any specifics.

CHANGE IN STRATEGY? Millsport Senior VP/Motorsports Mike Bartelli noted Red Bull’s other sports interests, including an F1 team and MLS franchise, and said, “Perhaps they’ve reevaluated how the approach that they’ve used in other markets and sports might be received in NASCAR. Or maybe they’ve come to the conclusion that they should focus on the team’s performance on track first.” Just Marketing CMO Justin Johnson, a former NASCAR marketing exec, said, “In my estimation, they will use this year to research trends, view NASCAR consumption and then strike with a major campaign against this initiative.” But Johnson added, “I also wouldn’t rule out a very calculated hot market opportunity if their drivers get off to a fast start.” However, Pegram indicated there would be no special promotions around Brian Vickers or A.J. Allmendinger even if either were to experience early-season success, saying, “We don’t need to make a big deal of guys winning races, it’s kind of what’s expected.”

CROSS PROMOTIONS: Team Red Bull provided a glimpse of cross-promotional opportunities between its various sports properties last November when it placed the MLS Red Bulls logo on Allmendinger’s No. 84 car during qualifying for the Dickies 500. Red Bull has no plans for cross promotions this season, but Johnson suggested it could use its other sports properties to attract incremental sponsorship revenue. “Bundling assets together and providing value-added inventory outside the NASCAR community might serve as a key differentiator for a potential suitor,” he said. “In addition, the ability to use specialized paint schemes affords Red Bull the ability to promote regional efforts.”

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