SBJ/February 27 - March 5, 2006/This Weeks News

BofA making up for slow start in NASCAR, may not be done

Bank of America’s foray into NASCAR, though slow and rather late by most accounts, has been very calculated and well thought out. Adding to a motorsports portfolio that up until this year consisted of a prerace show on NBC and TNT and an official sponsorship with Speedway Motorsports Inc., Bank of America announced last week that it has a five-year, multitrack sponsorship deal with International Speedway Corp., and had picked up the option for race title sponsorship of Dover International Speedway’s June Nextel Cup race.

Valvoline plans to remake its NASCAR brand
with a new team and several new initiatives.
Jeff Elliott, vice president of sponsorships and market planning for Bank of America, said the company has not ruled out completing the multiple-channel approach with a NASCAR team sponsorship, as well. Elliott said the company plans to “walk before we run,” but now that the company’s pace is faster than a walk, it will be interesting to see what team, if any, BofA chooses to run to.

GMR is Bank of America’s sports marketing agency of record.

VALVOLINE REVAMPS: Valvoline is remaking its brand in NASCAR this year with the launch of driver Scott Riggs’ new Evernham Motorsports program, an aggressive at-track marketing initiative, a new Web site and a new brand leadership team. And despite Riggs’ inability to qualify for the Daytona 500, Valvoline, the only consumer products company to not only sponsor but own a NASCAR team, unveiled its at-track mobile marketing display at the season-opening events to large crowds and rave reviews.

Bryan Emrich, director of brand management for Valvoline, came over from Procter & Gamble late last year and built a team and program that he hopes will “re-establish brand V.”

The Valvoline Race Shop, which will be traveling to both Daytona and Bristol events this season, is a 2,400-square-foot interactive display area that lets fans actually interact. From firing up a “show car” to testing their reaction in an NHRA simulation game, the mobile marketing unit made a splash with fans.

“There’s actually things to do instead of just things to see,” one fan said.

As part of the company’s multimillion-dollar rebranding, Valvoline sponsored the countdown to Daytona clock on Speed and debuted a new advertising spot titled “Heritage.” Steven Costello, brand manager for Valvoline who was brought in from PepsiCo, said the spot will air on Speed, TNT and NBC and that the company is already exploring the option of doing another version later this year.

“The brand was losing relevance,” Costello said. “It had to be re-established.”

“NASCAR ANGELS”: NASCAR’s Automotive Licensing team is pitching a new television show to stations and automotive partners across the country. “NASCAR Angels,” in development for fall 2006, was created to drive consumer education about the need for regular vehicle maintenance and to showcase every aspect of the aftermarket chain, including service, technicians and parts.

Ad sales are being handled by NASCAR and its production company, MagicDust Television. NASCAR partners have the first right of refusal, and no competing brands will be solicited.

The series, which will rely on the help of some local professionals and the products of NASCAR Performance partners, will feature a group of “NASCAR Angels” that will hit the road each week in an “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”-type format to help families and communities with their transportation needs. The series, which will feature NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs, will shoot 22 original episodes on location in major NASCAR race markets.

Dave Kobuszewski, manager, brand communications for the Automotive Aftermarket, said the show will offer opportunities for sponsorship and product integration. The weekly half-hour program has been picked up in 40 percent of the country and seven of the top 10 markets thus far, with ABC-owned stations leading the way as that network gets ready to air Cup races next year, Kobuszewski said.

When the show goes to production in June, Kobuszewski and NASCAR are predicting that the show will have been picked up by 80 percent of the country.

Martinsville Speedway’s April 2 Nextel Cup
race remains without a title sponsor.
UNTITLED RACES: Corporate interest in NASCAR is as hot as it’s ever been, but track owners and operators still have inventory available heading into week three of the 2006 season.

After signing 3M as title sponsor of the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 18, ISC now has four open Nextel Cup races — April 2 at Martinsville, Aug. 13 at Watkins Glen and May 6 and Sept. 9 at Richmond.

Lenny Santiago, senior investor relations analyst for ISC, said the company has either “already reached terms” or has “very strong prospects for all of our remaining Cup entitlements.”

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns six Nextel Cup tracks including Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, is sold out of Cup and Busch Series race titles. ISC, Santiago said, has two open Busch dates, well ahead of where it was last year when it had seven Busch races without title sponsorship.

Dover Motorsports signed Bank of America for its spring Cup race but is looking for sponsors for its fall events in the Cup, Busch and Truck series.

Neither of Pocono Raceway’s Nextel Cup races has had a title sponsor since 1996, and New Hampshire International Raceway is looking for race title sponsorship for its Busch and Cup events in July.

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