SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Marketingsponsorship

Allstate poised to become NASCAR insurance sponsor

Allstate Insurance Co. is set to sign a multiyear, multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with NASCAR, according to several industry sources.

According to a league source, Allstate will get exclusivity in the life insurance category but is uncertain whether it will take the auto and supplemental categories, with price being the factor.

Allstate will likely pay a minimum of $2 million a year, with a contract requirement for an additional investment at the team or track level, industry experts said. The company plans to activate with safety vehicles at the racetrack and also will invest in NASCAR’s research and development center in Concord, N.C., the league source said.

NASCAR currently has no insurance partners and has been looking to fill the life insurance category for more than a year. It is believed that NASCAR also courted Aflac.

NASCAR officials declined comment for this story.

George Nolan, an Allstate spokesman, said a deal has not been signed but that a potential relationship is under review.

“At this time, Allstate is reviewing a NASCAR relationship, a NASCAR sponsorship, among other national sponsorships that we are considering,” Nolan said.

Allstate’s current sponsorship portfolio consists of deals with the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Basketball and naming rights to the newly renovated arena outside Chicago that is home to the DePaul Blue Demons, AFL Chicago Rush and American Hockey League Chicago Wolves.

But the idea of an insurance company venturing into auto racing sponsorship has always been perceived as problematical considering the sport’s penchant for crashes and occasional driver injuries.

“[Allstate] figured out the value of NASCAR as a marketing platform, and obviously they feel that NASCAR fans are savvy enough to know that the company doesn’t crash the car,” said Ryan Kurek, who heads Logic Marketing + Consulting, which counts Nemco Motorsports and Haas CNC Racing among its NASCAR clients.

Other insurance companies with ties to the sport are AAA, which is the official auto club of track owner and operator International Speedway Corp., and Nationwide, which has a partnership with ISC rival Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Word that Allstate is set to partner with NASCAR comes on the heels of other announcements that signify the sport’s attempt to diversify its sponsor base. Over the last three months, NASCAR has announced sponsorship deals with Office Depot, Checkers, Nicoderm and Gulfstream Aerospace.

Staff writer Terry Lefton contributed to this report.

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