SBJ/December 25 - 31, 2006/This Weeks News

NASCAR series sponsors Busch, Craftsman team up

For the first time, two of NASCAR’s title sponsors are teaming their marketing efforts for a promotion to push sales of Busch beer and Craftsman tools.

Beginning in mid-January and running into the spring, Busch- and Craftsman-branded displays will appear in more than 5,000 grocery, convenience and package stores in 46 states. A Craftsman coupon will offer a $5 discount to anyone who buys $50 worth of tools at Sears.

Busch and Craftsman also are co-sponsoring a 2007 fan guide with information on NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck and Busch series, along with schedules, tailgating tips and new tools. The displays, in some instances, will include actual Craftsman tools or toolboxes.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Busch beer, has sponsored NASCAR’s Busch Series since 1982.
A-B officials told SportsBusiness Journal last week that 2007 will be its final year as title sponsor. Craftsman just completed its 11th season as the title sponsor of the truck series, and its current deal runs through 2010.

“This is a very nontraditional partnership, so we’re both getting our feet wet and getting to know each other,” said Jim Lukowski, Anheuser-Busch’s director of value brands. “We’re both learning what we can provide to the relationship. … Hopefully, this will be the first of many things to come.”

While Busch is entering its final year as title sponsor, Lukowski said the brand is continuing to evaluate how it might retain a presence in NASCAR, and partnerships with Craftsman and other NASCAR sponsors might be one avenue.

Lukowski and Scott Howard, manager of sponsorship and brand development for Sears Craftsman, had talked throughout 2006 and agreed that the two series sponsors could profit from combining their marketing might.

For Craftsman, the relationship with Busch grants it entry into retail outlets — grocery, convenience and package stores — where it previously had no presence. Howard and Lukowski also have talked about a co-branded fan event in a Sears parking lot, perhaps on a race weekend.

But the primary benefit for a value brand like Busch is attaching its name to another brand that’s known for its quality.

“When I first started doing research on Craftsman tools, the feedback I got on customer satisfaction was amazing,” Lukowski said. “Craftsman has a great reputation with consumers, and if we can get an image rub from that, that’s a win for us.”

Howard, who joined Sears from International Speedway Corp. in 2005, said Craftsman has placed an emphasis on improving its activation in the past year. In 2006, Craftsman rolled out an 8,000-square-foot mobile marketing display that is transported by three haulers.

“We’ve got a great platform. We just need to do a better job of activating against it,” Howard said. “We want to continue working with different partners to really stretch our marketing dollars in this sport.”

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