SBD/Issue 34/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Hendrick Officially Unveils Drive To End Hunger As No. 24 Sponsor

AARP Foundation Hopes Gordon Deal Will
Raise Awareness For Adult Hunger Issue

The AARP Foundation yesterday formally announced it will promote its Drive to End Hunger campaign through a three-year sponsorship of Jeff Gordon's NASCAR Sprint Cup No. 24 Chevrolet. The deal will cover 22 races in '11-13 and will begin with the '11 Daytona 500. Terms of the deal were not available. The AARP Foundation hopes the deal helps it raise public and corporate awareness of the hunger issue facing 6 million older Americans. It will offer a text-to-donate campaign to solicit donations from NASCAR fans, sell placement on the car to other companies, and partner with consumer package goods companies involved in NASCAR to promote the campaign at retail. AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins said, "Certainly, we want to raise money, and we expect to raise far more money than we're investing in this if we're going to solve this problem of hunger in America. But it's also about raising awareness. People in this country don't realize how many seniors or older people in this country are going hungry every day." The deal is one of the first cause-marketing partnerships in NASCAR to cover that many races in a season. Previous deals, such as Gordon's promotion of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, have been for a single race. Hendrick Motorsports execs first met with AARP reps at Richmond Int'l Raceway in early September. The meeting was arranged by Wunderman Motorsports, which cold-called the AARP and will serve as the AARP's agency in NASCAR. Meanwhile, DuPont today agreed to a three-year deal to remain a primary sponsor through '13 of Gordon's Sprint Cup entry. The company will be the primary sponsor for 14 races a year and will have prominent brand placement for all other races over the three-year period (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: ESPN.com's David Newton noted "some have questioned why AARP would spend in excess of $10 million, likely $15 million or more, to promote its program on Gordon's car when it could just put that money toward feeding the hungry." But "what people forget is that sometimes you have to spend money to make money, or in this case make people aware of the need." Newton: "Maybe having a charitable organization on the hood for more than one or two races is a way of making NASCAR seem less commercial, or as Gordon said, show people they are human. Maybe this will, as Hendrick insisted it might, open doors for new sponsors that never would be aware of the sport if it wasn't for the campaign. It's a win-win scenario for all parties" (ESPN.com, 10/27). ESPN’s Ryan McGee said, "If you put a couple million dollars into a Super Bowl ad, you reach everybody all at once and that's it. You put several million dollars into a Cup car, and now you are taking a rolling billboard to racetracks all over the country. ... It's a different approach but I think we might start seeing more teams at least support this cause and certainly look at some others" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 10/27).

Hornish Left Without A Sponsor For '11 Cup
Season After Mobil 1 Joined Tony Stewart

HUSTLE & SHOW: In L.A., Jim Peltz reports as the "poor economy continues," NASCAR teams are being "forced to hustle for new sponsors and to keep the ones they have." That is "especially true for primary sponsors, who write the biggest checks for the logos that dominate the paint schemes on NASCAR race cars." Just as race attendance "has slumped because NASCAR fans are watching their wallets, sponsors have cut back on the spending that is the main source of the $15 million to $20 million it takes to field a competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car." The pullback in sponsorship spending "has contributed to mergers among some NASCAR teams," but "even powerhouse teams are now scouring for cash beyond conventional NASCAR sponsors such as auto products, beverages and consumer goods." Penske Racing "has yet to find a 2011 primary sponsor for its No. 77 Dodge now driven by Sam Hornish Jr., whose main sponsor, Mobil 1 motor oil, is moving to two-time champion Tony Stewart next season." Stewart himself "needed Mobil 1 because he's losing Old Spice as a primary sponsor after this season." Meanwhile, snack food Tornados' sponsorship of Ryan Newman's No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing entry "illustrates how NASCAR still holds appeal to sponsors." Tornados are made by California-based Ruiz Foods, a "leading seller of frozen Mexican foods." When the company last year "prepared to expand Tornados from convenience stores to a wider array of retailers," Ruiz Foods President & co-CEO Bryce Ruiz "pitched NASCAR." Ruiz said that "he's 'absolutely' pleased with the results so far on his seven-figure investment" (L.A. TIMES, 10/28).

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