SBD/Issue 7/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Junior Achievement: Earnhardt Unveils New Car, Sponsors

Hendrick Motorsports Unveils New
Sponsors For Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Car
Hendrick Motorsports yesterday formally announced that Mountain Dew Amp Energy drink and the Army National Guard will sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet next season. It will be Hendrick’s 12th season with PepsiCo, which has an associate sponsorship with the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon, and second with the National Guard, the primary sponsor of Casey Mears' No. 25 car. Earnhardt said during his press conference at the PespiCo bottlers convention in Dallas, “I’ve been a big fan of Mountain Dew for a very long time. I even go back to [Darrell Waltrip’s] time when he used to drive for them.” He added the National Guard "was a great fit, too, one I was very interested in. I was just at the right place at the right time.” Despite the widely-held notion that the combined sponsorship is the $20-25M range and is the richest in NASCAR history, Hendrick did not give a specific figure, citing confidentiality agreements (THE DAILY).

AMP'ED UP: PepsiCo North America President & CEO Dawn Hudson said, “We’ve had a tremendous relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. We’ve had that with our Pepsi brand with Jeff Gordon. That’s over a 10-year relationship. Then for four years we’ve had our Gatorade brand with Jimmie Johnson. What that allows us to do is to connect to large fan bases, to obviously be at the tracks, but also get NASCAR into grocery stores, convenience and gas stores, promotional programs, innovative new products. It really has worked with us in the past.” PepsiCo runs a full-page ad in USA Today featuring the Mountain Dew and Amp Energy logos in support of the deal (THE DAILY). Hudson said a Super Bowl ad featuring Earnhardt was “very much under consideration” (USA TODAY, 9/20).

PULLING GUARD: Army National Guard Dir Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn said of his group's involvement in NASCAR, “It just happens that the strong point of recruiting the force happens to be exactly where the NASCAR Nation is. ... We have had the most historical surge in strength over the last two years that the Army National Guard has ever had” (THE DAILY).

PepsiCo's Hudson (l) Helps Earnhardt Jr.
Unveil Amp-Sponsored Car
WELL MATCHED: ESPN’s Terry Blount said team owner Rick Hendrick’s long-term relationships with PepsiCo and the National Guard were key in the deals, saying, “He trusts these companies.” For Earnhardt, the deals are about “expanding his brand, being able to market to a younger audience ... and it was also about the military. He talked (yesterday) about the two years he spent as a kid at military school” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN, 9/19).  JR Motorsports President Kelley Earnhardt Elledge said the Amp sponsorship "continues to position [Earnhardt Jr.] in the mainstream. PepsiCola is a strong, innovative company. They’re about youth. They’re about excitement. They’re about entertainment and pop culture and all those kind of things that Dale is associated with. ... From the Guard standpoint, it’s about just being real and about that everyday human element being involved in the military” (SCENEDAILY.com, 9/19).  Earnhardt said, "I’ve worked with the Navy in the last couple years and learned a lot about the military and how they approach their sponsorships" (ESPNews, 9/19).  He added, "I’m interested in really working closely with (Amp) and understanding the energy drink market more and where that’s headed and what the demographic is” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet, 9/19).

SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP: In Dallas, Richard Durrett reports even before the announcement was made, new Earnhardt merchandise “was already on sale at various online stores,” and Motorsports Authentics (MA) President & CEO Mark Dyer “expected sales would be brisk.” MA already has shirts and caps “with the different paint schemes and the No. 88 on them,” which could take just a couple weeks to be delivered. New die-cast cars are also for sale, but “it will take longer to get those out onto the market.” Dyer estimates Earnhardt items account for 25-35% of all NASCAR sales, and he said that the new sponsors “should position him to attract more young fans, and Earnhardt’s popularity can still grow” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/20). Dyer: “It’s generally regarded that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is at least a third of the entire NASCAR merchandise market. Some categories he would be even more. Next year, he’ll probably be a greater percentage because of the debut year of this whole new sponsor and car identity” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/20).  Dyer noted, “The whole retail industry was literally waiting down to the minute to the point when his new car became available” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). In Charlotte, David Poole reports the souvenir shop at JR Motorsports’ HQ had an early shipment of merchandise and “began selling [it] as soon as the announcement came down.” Poole notes a cable home shopping network carried yesterday's press conference live (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/20). 

Earnhardt Jr. To Drive Same
Number As His Grandfather
88 KEYS: Both Earnhardt and Hendrick credited Earnhardt Elledge as the person most responsible for negotiating and securing the rights to No. 88 from Robert Yates Racing. Earnhardt: “She earned her paycheck that day” (ESPN.com, 9/19). Yates said, “Ralph Earnhardt [Jr.'s grandfather] drove the No. 88 Olds in 1957, and because of this number’s history with the Earnhardt family, I felt car No. 88 should continue with Dale Earnhardt Jr.” (SCENEDAILY.com, 9/19). However, in Ft. Lauderdale, Ed Hinton writes the “bad news” for fans of the Earnhardt family is No. 88 “was made notorious” by Waltrip, one of Dale Sr.’s biggest rivals, and “was used by several other drivers though the decades,” including Bobby and Donnie Allison, Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett. Earnhardt Jr. said, “I like the fact that the number has some history. That makes me feel very proud to have it” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/20).

JR. TOPS IN DRIVER EXPOSURE: See today's Back of the Book for Image Impact's report on the top Nextel Cup drivers in terms of brand exposure.

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