SBD/November 10, 2010/Marketing And Sponsorships

Smoke Signals: Stewart Different Than On-Track Image Implies

Stewart Hopeful Off-Track Duties, Like Signing Autographs, Can Help Change Public Image

Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner & driver Tony Stewart is a "one-man conglomerate who is busier than ever," and "in the midst of his new responsibilities and broader roles has come perspective and restraint," according to FANHOUSE.com's Holly Cain, who received a 48-hour All-Access Pass to profile Stewart on Oct. 27 and 28. Stewart "visited four states in two days, maintained good humor and a saint's patience during a nine-hour photo shoot, held an appreciation dinner, spent invaluable time with a terminally ill friend, signed autographs and posed for photos at a huge sponsor event and indulged a full two days of media requests." He understands why some fans "may have the wrong preconceptions about him," but he is "hopeful that is changing." Stewart: "A lot of time the only thing people see and hear us say comes in the heat of battle. I can't blame those people for judging me that way if that's the only thing they have to base off of. ... The thing I caution everybody is that is not us 24-7, that's us in our work environment." Stewart is the "first to admit his attitude has evolved; his 2010 demeanor is different from the 2005 version, when he was quicker to criticize NASCAR, reporters and anyone else he felt needed a 'wake-up call.'" Stewart: "I've learned to pick the battles that are worth fighting, that there are times when you can fight for something because it's right but it's not going to change anything. ... I'm trying to be more conscious of not making my own life more difficult with the things that I say or do. Even if I'm right, I have to think: How does it affect everybody?" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/9).

DAY IN THE LIFE: Cain noted each shot in the photo shoot was "to be taken with him alongside one or more of his 2011 Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolets or holding up sponsor products." Each was "spelled out in excruciating detail: 1. Chest-up head shot, straight on. 2. Chest-up head shot, head slightly turned to the left. 3. Chest-up head shot, head slightly turned to the left, sunglasses on." In between all this were "phone interviews his public relations team had lined up, video messages to make and a national teleconference with NASCAR reporters." But "more than five hours, a couple hundred shots and a tornado warning later, at the end of the photo session, the photographers and Stewart's marketing team suddenly started shaking their heads and whispering nervously to one another from behind the cameras and bright lights." They had "overlooked a detail and were now going to need to reshoot an additional series of photographs of Stewart holding up sponsor El Monterey's frozen Mexican food packages for promotional material the company would use next year." Stewart: "I need 30-hour days and 400-day years, but as soon as I'd get that, then I'd need more. But I love what I do. I love my life" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/8).

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