SBJ/September 1 - 7, 2003/This Weeks Issue

Chevrolet shifts from Warner ’toons to tunes

NASCAR and the music industry will lock arms as never before this weekend for Chevrolet's annual blowout promotion at Richmond International Raceway — and, for once, there won't be a country act in sight.

In yet another example of stock car racing's move toward the mainstream, Chevy, Warner Music Group and motorsports merchandise leader Action Performance Cos. will combine on a weekend-long cross-promotion built around a handful of rock acts from Warner's record labels.

Warner Music Group act Trapt will occupy real estate on Robbie Gordon’s No. 31 car.
Six Chevy Monte Carlo entries will carry special paint schemes that promote the artists — including surging rock bands Staind and Trapt — during Saturday's Winston Cup race, dubbed the "Rock & Roll 400" by title-sponsor Chevy.

Two of the acts, Sugar Ray and Franky Perez, will perform trackside before Friday night's Busch Series race. Trapt, Uncle Kracker and Hootie and the Blowfish will perform at the track before Saturday night's Winston Cup event. Staind, which will share real estate on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car with Budweiser's "True Music" mark, played at a NASCAR VIP event in Indianapolis last month. Third Eye Blind, featured this weekend on Steve Park's car, played when the promotion was announced in Charlotte in May.

CDs from the artists will be sold at the speedway this weekend, along with other merchandise commemorating the promotion.

The link that spurred the promotion came about when Chevy began considering ways to reprise a highly successful model that put Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes characters on cars at the Chevy-titled Richmond race each of the last two years.

Chevy's current ad campaign features car-themed tunes, including Prince's "Little Red Corvette" and Don McLean's "American Pie."

Chevy executives say the unifying paint-scheme theme allows them to drive home the extent of their position in NASCAR. Last year's Looney Tunes program generated $50 million in retail merchandise sales and more than 500 million consumer impressions.

"The model is very similar to what we put together with Looney Tunes," said Terry Dolan, assistant brand manager for Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "What we've been able to do is create this envelope that pulls the mass together. ... It not only pulls together a unified message, but it allows for the participation of a multitude of partners.

"As you look at Dale Jr., we've now opened up doors through the music of Staind."

For the record labels, it's a way to get their acts in front of a loyal fan base.

"It's national TV exposure, it's print, and it's an alignment with one of the top sports out there," said Laura Del Greco, vice president of corporate integrated marketing for Warner Music Group. "When we get national exposure like this, we usually see a lift [in CD sales].

"The exposure is what it's all about. You can't get the concentration [through air play] on radio that you get through something like this. If you're integrated into some sort of programming and it becomes seamless and exciting, that's when you see a real return."

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