SBD/February 5, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Miles "Very Confident" IndyCar Can Ink Title Sponsor Before Series Opens Next Month

Miles has taken some heat for not doing enough to develop new IndyCar stars
Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles is "very confident he can land a title sponsor" for the IndyCar Series by its season-opening race on March 30, according to Anthony Schoettle of the INDIANAPOLIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. Miles said that he is "'having serious conversations' with several big-name companies about being title sponsor or some other type of official series sponsor." He said, "Any of the organizations we’re talking to would be instantly recognizable and have substantial advertising budgets." Sources said that Verizon is "taking a serious look at stepping up its IndyCar sponsorship, and perhaps considering becoming title sponsor." Miles: "(Sponsors') ability to help us grow the sport, project the brand and enhance our fan experience is the highest priority. The rights fee is secondary to that." Schoettle noted Miles has "taken some heat for not doing enough not only to develop new stars, but also failing to promote the drivers the series has." Miles "insists that’s about to change." He said that IndyCar, which has not turned a profit since its '96 inception, "plans to work with teams and drivers to formulate a 'brand plan for each driver' that maps out how a driver should 'be put forward by broadcasters, sponsors and other stakeholders.'" IndyCar CMO C.J. O’Donnell admitted that Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series "have been hurt by 'an inconsistent strategy in bringing our drivers forward.'" He added that "constant turnover" in the marketing department has "added to the problem." Former IndyCar and F1 driver Derek Daly "doesn't think any approach will work unless it has the mission of developing 'American stars' as a centerpiece." Daly "knocks team owners, especially the [richest] ones, for not doing enough to help develop potential American stars" (IBJ.com, 2/4).
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