SBD/December 1, 2011/Events and Attractions

Motorsports Marketing Forum: Manufacturers Believe Engaging Millennials Key

Manufacturers believe that engaging Millennials is key to the future of motorsports and see bringing in small cars, like the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, to NASCAR as critical to that. During the session, “Manufacturers’ Panel: Examining the New Car Culture and its Impact on the Sport,” Chevrolet VP/Performance Vehicles & Motorsports Jim Campbell said, “Millennials demand excitement. If it’s not exciting, they turn it off and walk away. That’s what we’ve got to work on. It’s everything from what we put on the race track to what the length of the race is, to can I follow online. There’s no one answer, but in the end, Millennials will be the buying power and force going forward.” Ford North America Motorsports Dir Jamie Allison encouraged NASCAR to incorporate Rally Cross into its race weekends to engage Millennials. Allison: “These are thrill seekers. For them, thrill happens with a jump, with a wreck, with a drift. We have to look at it. The question is: How big does it grow?” But not all of the panelists shared that opinion. Toyota Racing Development Senior VP David Wilson noted small cars "have been part of the heritage since we started selling cars in the U.S." Wilson: "We’re not fixated on the car per se. We’re fixated on the Toyota being able to compete against Dodge, Chevy, Ford.” The desire to attract and appeal to Millennials spans forms of motorsports and continents. Ferrari Dir of New Business Michele Pignatti Morano said, “Formula One has the same problem as NASCAR. There are other sports. We have to be more entertaining. All this new media and new devices are helping.”

QUICK HITS
* Wilson said of the Toyota Camry serving as the pace car for the Daytona 500, the “The Great American Race”: “Five years ago, when we came into the sport, it would have been a much more polarizing issue. Today the fans won’t even recognize the irony in that statement."
*SRT Brand Motorsports Dodge Dir of Marketing & Operations Beth Parretta said manufacturers spend so heavily on motorsports sponsorships because motorsports fans are influencers. Parretta: “They’re the ones their family and friends and co-workers look to when it comes to cars.”
* Allison said of the one change he would make to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: "The cars have to look like the cars in the driveway. That’s coming.”
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