SBJ/Nov. 8-14, 2010/This Week's Issue

Holiday Inn back in motorsports with NHRA deal

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

A little more than a year after dropping its NASCAR sponsorship, Holiday Inn is jumping back into motorsports with the NHRA.

The brand, which is a division of the InterContinental Hotel Group, will be an associate partner of Kalitta Motorsports courtesy of a multiyear deal valued in the mid to high six figures. It also is finalizing a multiyear partnership with the NHRA that will see it replace longtime partner Motel 6 as the first new hotel sponsor the series has had in eight years.

Holiday Inn wanted to stay in NASCAR but left the sport in 2009 for financial reasons, IHG Manager of Leisure Doug Dixon said. He added that the relationship with Kalitta and the NHRA allows the brand to continue to engage the motorsports audience at a lower price point.

The Kalitta Motorsports deal makes Holiday Inn the primary sponsor of David Grubnic’s Top Fuel dragster for four races. It also includes hospitality rights and branding on three cars, crew uniforms and driver suits.

The deal with Kalitta was driven by the business-to-business opportunity of working with Kalitta Air, the freight delivery business owned by Kalitta Motorsports owner Connie Kalitta. Kalitta Air operates throughout the world, and its pilots and mechanics will stay in InterContinental Group Hotels in the future.

“We have to get a pretty solid return on our investment,” Dixon said. “We saw huge potential from a revenue standpoint (because of Kalitta Air).”

Dixon said Holiday Inn is still developing plans for how to activate and market its existing partnership with Kalitta and potential partnership with the NHRA. He anticipates that the brand will buy media during NHRA races. He expects it to develop a marketing plan later this year.

IMG, which works with the NHRA, introduced Holiday Inn to Kalitta Motorsports.

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