SBD/February 24, 2012/NASCAR Season Preview

A-B Expands Deal With Daytona Int'l Speedway, Will Trade Shootout Entitlement For Duels

Anheuser-Busch has expanded its relationship with Daytona Int'l Speedway, adding entitlement rights to the Duel races and Speedweeks, the 10-day stretch of stock-car races from the Shootout to the Daytona 500. Its Budweiser brand also will become the presenting sponsor of a pre-race concert and segment on the broadcast show and the title sponsor of two 150-mile qualifying races during Speedweeks. The expansion will see Budweiser drop its entitlement for the Shootout, a non-points race held the week before the 500. A-B VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Brad Brown said, “This is about how do we make what we have bigger and better. The toughest thing to do is manage tradition and move forward when opportunities are there. We feel as we get closer to the Daytona 500 weekend we can increase the experience we have.” A-B last year signed a four-year extension with DIS that gave it title rights to the Shootout and signage at all events hosted by the track, including the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400. It will continue to be the naming-rights partner for the infield concession area, known as the Budweiser Bistro, and the 46-foot-high platform along the superstretch, known as the Budweiser Party Porch. The new rights are an enhancement to that deal and will run through '15. Financial terms were not available, but industry sources said A-B would spend 20% more to add the Duel and Speedweek entitlements.

SHOOTOUT VIEWERSHIP ON DOWNWARD TREND: Shootout viewership has declined for five consecutive years. Fox finished with a 4.2 rating and 7.467 million viewers for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night for Kyle Busch’s win. Brown said the TV audience decrease was discussed internally as Budweiser weighed dropping its entitlement of the event, but he said that Budweiser has ample brand awareness, so that was not as much of an issue as the fact that the company was excited about the opportunity to own Speedweeks. He said that the A-B marketing team has talked about possibly hosting an afternoon concert or happy hour party after next year’s Duel. Brown: “Super Bowl is so fresh in our minds. We do some incredible things there for Bud Light. This is the Super Bowl of racing and we want to do some incredible things here for Budweiser. Making the experience more engaging for fans is what we’re all about.”

NO TITLE SPONSOR FOR DAYTONA 500: DIS President Joie Chitwood said that he never entertained signing Budweiser or any other sponsor as a title sponsor for the Daytona 500. Chitwood: “If I entertained that thought, they would probably be looking for a new president. The Daytona 500 is the Daytona 500 and I don’t see any reason to enhance that with a sponsor’s name around it.” The speedway’s sales team is searching for a new title partner to replace Budweiser for the Shootout. That deal would likely be worth $1-2M. Chitwood said that Gatorade will remain the official isotonic beverage of the speedway and sponsor of victory lane. The company’s agreement with ISC, Daytona’s parent company, is up for renewal this year. The Budweiser deal was put together by Chitwood and ISC Account Director Carrie Register. Brown said that Chitwood first broached the idea of Budweiser taking over entitlement for Speedweeks when the two were in Chicago for the first race of the '11 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Brown: “It was one of those would-you-be-interested-if conversations. It wasn’t fully baked but it did get our attention.”
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