SBD/Issue 51/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Four Score: Lowe's Celebrates Johnson's Latest Cup Victory In Ads

Lowe's Racing's Web Site Congratulates 
Johnson On His Fourth Cup Series Title
Lowe's today is celebrating Jimmie Johnson's record fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship with a series of congratulatory ads on several different platforms. The home-improvement retailer runs a full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer congratulating Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus, and Hendrick Motorsports, while a 30-second celebratory spot ran on ESPN this morning. Lowe's Racing's Web page features an intro screen congratulating Johnson with the text "Making History at High Speed." Meanwhile, Quaker State runs a full-page ad in USA Today congratulating Johnson and touting its status as the official motor oil of Hendrick Motorsports. The Lowe's ads come after the company signed a three-year extension with Hendrick for primary sponsorship of Johnson's No. 48 Chevy through the '13 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Lowe's has sponsored Johnson's entry since '01, his first season as a Cup driver (THE DAILY). Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick: "Lowe's took a chance on us back in 2001, and it's not a stretch to say this whole thing would never have been possible without them. When you have a partner put that much faith in you, it's incredibly rewarding to see them be successful" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/20). Hendrick Friday also announced that he "had signed Johnson to a contract extension that would keep him the driver" of the No. 48 car "through the 2015 season." Johnson's original deal was "set to expire at the end of 2010" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21).

WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR JIMMIE? In DC, Liz Clarke wrote Johnson's "history-making moment" yesterday at the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is "largely being met with indifference by casual sports fans and a measure of irritation by many ardent NASCAR fans who've grown weary of his spot-on performances down the stretch." While corporate sponsors "delight in Johnson's sterling comportment on and off the track, traditional NASCAR fans often fault him for being too polished and politically correct," as they "tend to prefer more polarizing drivers -- guys who raise a little hell once in a while -- whether for the purpose of cheering or booing." NASCAR radio host Pat Patterson said the racing circuit was "almost quilted together with personalities, and those personalities were what people clung to." Patterson: "The problem right now is, there is nobody that's making you jump off the couch to make you kind of hang onto them. ... People aren't in love with NASCAR; they're in love with the people who race in NASCAR" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/22). Former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler said of Johnson, "A lot of people think he's boring. I think he's the absolute, dead-on model for what people should be" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/21). In Miami, Greg Cote writes Johnson is the "guy who gives boring a good name." He is "nobody's NASCAR prototype," but he is "just the best guy in it" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/23).

BEST OF THE BEST: The WASHINGTON POST's Clarke writes yesterday's race "capped an extraordinary season for Hendrick Motorsports, which collected its ninth Sprint Cup Championship (tying Petty Enterprises' all-time mark) and its 12th NASCAR title in all divisions of racing." Also, Hendrick drivers "finished first, second and third in the standings," with Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon finishing second and third, respectively (WASHINGTON POST, 11/23). Meanwhile, ESPN.com's David Newton reported a "family emergency" kept Rick Hendrick from attending yesterday's race. Hendrick's niece, Alesha Gainey, was "undergoing an emergency liver transplant in North Carolina" (ESPN.com, 11/22).

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