SBD/September 13, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Force Field: NHRA Legend Looking For Sponsors, Bringing Back Reality TV Show

Force said he is "chasing corporate America" in a bid to land new sponsors
NHRA team owner and driver John Force on Thursday announced an aggressive marketing strategy aimed at combating the loss of longtime manufacturer Ford and sponsor Castrol following the '14 season. Force has partnered with motorsports firm Just Marketing Int’l (JMI) to help find a primary sponsor, and hired entertainment group Rogers & Cowan, as well as Octagon Entertainment in an effort to bring back “Driving Force,” a reality show about his family which ran in ’06-07 on A&E. “We have to move and we have to move fast,” Force said. “We’ve got to go chasing corporate America. We have to build the brand of John Force Racing and all the drivers, and Hollywood can make that happen.” Force noted a show about him -- and his NHRA driving daughters Brittany and Courtney -- could be invaluable to finding new sponsors. “I had raced for 20 years and I would come into the airport and race fans would know who John Force was from ESPN or Speed Channel. Then we get a TV show, and a year later my kids walk out of an airplane and the crowd surrounds them. What happened in a year that took me 20 years?” Force has received offers from a number of networks to carry the '14 show, which will air under a new name. Meanwhile, Courtney Force, who recently appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, thinks expanding the JFR brand can also be done outside the racing industry. “If we can cross over into magazines like Vogue and Glamour … anything we can do with them would be amazing for our sport,” she said. “We can tell girls what kind of makeup they should be wearing but we can also tell the guys what kind of oil they should be using on their motors.” JFR took out a full-page ad in Friday's USA Today looking for sponsors (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer).

UNSTOPPABLE FORCE? USA TODAY's Jeff Olson noted it is "unlikely that Force and his team will have trouble finding a new manufacturer and primary sponsor, but the assertive moves are intended to capitalize on the mainstream popularity of the 15-time Funny Car champion and his daughters." Force said that depending on future sponsorship, he "could end up driving a Top Fuel car" in '15. Force also "hinted that his team may start building cars for other NHRA teams, or even fabricating NASCAR Sprint Cup cars or other race vehicles in his Brownsburg, Ind., shop." JFR PR Dir Elon Werner "estimates JFR's annual backing from Ford" is $8M -- 40% of the team's annual $20M budget (USATODAY.com, 9/12). In California, Louis Brewster noted Force has "reached beyond the traditional market of sponsors by signing Auto Club, Traxxas and Brand Source." He also said Thursday that Auto Club had "extended its deal with JFR and driver Robert Hight for another five years" (SGVTRIBUNE.com, 9/12).
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