SBJ/Jan. 24-30, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Entergy to sponsor IndyCar team

A year after sampling IndyCar with a one-race sponsorship, integrated energy company Entergy has signed a three-year agreement with HVM Racing.

ICON SMI     
Simona De Silvestro will drive the car with the Entergy logo for HVM Racing.
The deal, which industry sources valued at $4 million to $6 million annually, will put Entergy’s logo on the No. 78 car driven by Simona De Silvestro, the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. The company has had a relationship with the driver since she raced for Newman-Haas Racing in the Atlantic development series.

Entergy, which has a market capitalization of $13.2 billion, is primarily focused on nuclear power. It sells electricity in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, and it operates 12 nuclear facilities including plants in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Vermont.

The company plans to use its relationship with HVM and De Silvestro to raise awareness about the clean-air benefits of nuclear power. It will bring show cars to college campuses with strong engineering programs and use it to spark conversation with students about nuclear energy in hopes some go on to specialize in nuclear engineering or want to apply their specialization in mechanical, chemistry or other engineering specialities in jobs at nuclear plants.

Many engineers at nuclear plants are reaching retirement age, and the industry expects there to be new licenses to be provided for additional nuclear plants in the future. Entergy officials anticipate the combination will create a need for new engineers at its plants.

Kelle Barfield, Entergy director of nuclear communications, said that three years ago the company took its Atlantic series show car to Purdue University, a top engineering school, where approximately 40 engineering majors wound up declaring nuclear as their specialty.

“You can’t say directly that they wound up making their decision based on the car, but it did get the conversation started,” Barfield said. “Off-track, it’s an incredible tool for recruiting.”

HVM owner Keith Wiggins said the team planned to visit several universities and schools during the 2011 IndyCar season.

Entergy replaces Stargate World as the sponsor of HVM’s No. 78 car.

The three-year deal gives the team long-term sponsorship stability, which will allow it to develop a strong marketing program that delivers results over time, Wiggins said.

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