SBD/April 1, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sprint Taps Dale Earnhardt Jr. As Spokesperson For Drive First Texting App Campaign

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. “teamed up with Sprint for a 30-second ad” to promote Sprint’s Drive First app, which “can block and send automatic replies to text messages while you drive,” according to NASCAR.com. The spot was shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway in mid-March and “will begin airing" during this weekend's racing at Martinsville Speedway. The “overarching message is that driving isn't the problem, and texting isn't the problem; 'and' is the problem.” The ad features Earnhardt with “two members of his crew in the garage at a track.” One of them says, "Hey Dale, I got your text that said you couldn't text." Then the other says, "Wait. What? Why would he text that he couldn't text?" Earnhardt replies: "I was driving." The exchange “ignites a discussion about how and why a text is sent when the person who sends the text doesn't actually send it -- all of which refers to the Sprint Drive First app and how it sends reply text messages while someone is driving.” An additional video “will be shown at the Sprint Unlimited Experience at tracks each weekend throughout the season where they can interact with Earnhardt by texting his number” (NASCAR.com, 3/30).

NOT SO FAST: ESPN.com's David Newton reported Joe Gibbs Racing was "premature to announce that Mark Martin would replace Denny Hamlin while he recovers from a compression fracture in his lower back." Instead, Brian Vickers will "assume Hamlin's schedule starting April 13 at Texas Motor Speedway." Team Owner Michael Waltrip said, "All we were doing was offering help. We agreed that Mark was driving at Martinsville, and we were working through what it looked like after that." Martins and Vickers "split driving duties for the No. 55" car. Sources said that Aaron's, the "primary sponsor on the No. 55, preferred Martin in the car for his scheduled races because the company has activated sponsorship around the 54-year-old driver" (ESPN.com, 3/29).

PEDESTRIAN NUMBERS: In Orlando, Dan Tracy notes the Florida DOT sponsored NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona on Feb. 23. State officials were “pleased because millions of people saw the agency's pedestrian-safety motto, ‘Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow,’ plastered all over Nemechek's No. 87 car.” The $174,500 sponsorship was one part of the $1.8M "public-private partnership for pedestrian safety developed by the state.” ESPN during the broadcast of the race “tapped into Nemechek's in-car camera for parts of the race.” FDOT Manager Trenda McPherson estimated that the exposure “netted another $500,000 worth of commercial air time because the ‘Alert Today’ logo was clearly visible” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/1).
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