SBD/February 21, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Bill Proposing Ban On Military NASCAR Sponsorships Firmly Voted Down In House

Army serves as primary sponsor of Ryan Newman's No. 39 Chevy
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) last month "offered an amendment to the House budget bill to end the military's sponsorships" in motorsports, but the amendment “was defeated on Friday, 281-148,” according to William Rhoden of the N.Y. TIMES. The amendment "sought to prohibit taxpayer funds form being used for sponsorship of racecars, dragsters, Indy cars and motorcycle racing." McCollum on Thursday said, “I have nothing against NASCAR. The Defense Department said it didn’t have anything that could be cut. Seven million dollars to sponsor a car and we’re cutting cops, we’re cutting teachers, we’re cutting programs for homeless vets?” She also wanted to “repeal the $45 million special tax earmark for NASCAR and race track owners included in the 2010 law that extended the Bush tax cuts.” She said, “What is it about NASCAR as a special interest that we can’t even have an open discussion on the priorities?” McCollum “received hate mail, including a fax in her office laced with obscenities.” In yesterday’s Daytona 500, three cars were sponsored by the military, and Armed forces officials said that the sponsorship “helps recruiting.” But Rhoden noted the Navy and the Marine Corps “have pulled out of the NASCAR sponsorship business -- precisely because they could not gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns on recruiting” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). McCollum after the vote said that she will “introduce new legislation to prohibit taxpayer funds from being used for motor sports sponsorships” (STARTRIBUNE.com, 2/18). SCENEDAILY.com’s Bob Pockrass reported the Army “had planned to announce a sponsorship program for diversity driver Darrell Wallace but postponed the announcement considering the pending vote in the House” (SCENEDAILY.com, 2/18).

WORTH THE INVESTMENT: Army Lt. General Benjamin Freakley said that the $7.4M the Army is spending annually to sponsor NASCAR is “being put to good use, as he estimates 46,000 leads have come directly from NASCAR and the environment gives recruiters a great way to reach young people.” Freakley: “I have to make some form of investment to make the American people aware of their army. And this is what we think is a good investment” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/19). NASCAR Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston said that he “believed the sport offered an ideal Army partnership.” He added that NASCAR statistics “show 1 of 5 fans served or is currently serving in the military, and 1 of 3 current service members is a NASCAR fan” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/20).

FORWARD MARCH: In Orlando, Ludmilla Lelis noted “green energy, health initiatives and food drives now vie with beer, sports drinks and automotive parts for stockcar racing’s more than 400 corporate sponsorships.” The AARP Foundation’s Drive To End Hunger will be Jeff Gordon’s “main sponsor for 22 races” per year over the next three seasons, and Saturday’s Nationwide race was titled the DRIVE4COPD 300. DRIVE4COPD is a “health initiative targeting race fans because of their increased risk for lung diseases.” NASCAR also "has been 'going green,' and welcomes sponsorships from renewable energy." The change in sponsorships is “another effect of the recession,” as “tighter economic times have forced some longtime NASCAR sponsors to scale back or drop out entirely.” IEG reported “motorsports sponsorship spending dropped” to $3.3B in ’09. New entries this year “have helped that spending rebound” to $3.51B (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/19). NASCAR Dir of Business Communications Andrew Giangola said the company is “bullish on the prospects for increased sponsorship sales” this year. ISC VP & CMO Daryl Wolfe said his company has been “encouraged by initial corporate spending trends in many areas with agreements in place for the substantial majority of our annual budget” this year (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/20).
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