SBD/Issue 232/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Obama Advocates American Carmakers' Participation In NASCAR

Obama Says Participation In NASCAR A Good
Advertising Campaign For Car Manufacturers
President Obama yesterday promoted U.S. car manufacturers' participation in NASCAR as "about as good advertising as you can get." Obama appeared live on ESPN2's "NASCAR Now" yesterday after honoring several current and former NASCAR drivers at the White House and said, "NASCAR is a quintessential American sport. I think that its fan base is now worldwide ... and when you think about the fact that right now the U.S. auto industry is going through a tough time, we wanted to make sure we highlight the fact that this is a great sport, is a great brand for not just NASCAR itself but also for America." Obama said of the Big Three automakers remaining in the sport, "If somebody’s excited about NASCAR, that means they’re excited about cars. And we want to make sure that people know what great American cars are. Obviously it’s understandable at a time when GM has gone through some tough times that they may need to cut back sponsorships briefly. But over the long term, if we look 5-10 years out, I think they’re going to come back stronger than ever, and I think their association with NASCAR makes a great difference." ESPN's Marty Smith said, "It was extremely poignant that the president went on the record in front of the whole free world and said the Big Three belong in NASCAR, that there's no better way to leverage your brand than to be on the race track in NASCAR on Sunday. That's such an unbelievable endorsement" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 8/19).

MOVING FORWARD: In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly notes following Brian Vickers' win Sunday at the Sprint Cup Carfax 400, Toyota "now boasts wins with its three primary race teams" -- Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing (RBR). RBR "may have the deepest pockets" of all three teams since it is owned by Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz. Kelly notes as "high-profile race teams, such as Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing, are scrambling to find corporate sponsors for the 2010 season, Mateschitz only needs to write a check from his company's account." Toyota Motorsports National Manager Les Unger said of RBR, "It's very gratifying to see that team and how far it's come since 2007." Meanwhile, Unger said that he "continues to talk with teams currently affiliated with other manufacturers about going into the Toyota camp next season." Unger said that Toyota "would like to increase the size of its footprint in the Cup garage, but hinted the company would not want to have more than a dozen full-time cars" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 8/20).

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