SBJ/Feb. 7-13, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Budweiser serves up its new driver Harvick with a roast

Did you know Kevin Harvick is afraid of plungers? Probably not, but fans of the NASCAR driver will hear about that and other embarrassing tales when Budweiser roasts Harvick during a made-for-TV special on Speed.

The special is one of the main features of Anheuser-Busch’s activation around Harvick in 2011. The company last year signed on as a co-primary sponsor of the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 car driven by Harvick, and it’s using the roast as a way to introduce fans to its relationship with one of the top contenders for the Sprint Cup championship.

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Kevin Harvick
The roast will be produced by Elevation Group, the Ohio-based agency assisting Budweiser with its NASCAR communications and marketing. The agency hired stand-up comedian Jeremy Hotz to host it. Roasters include comedian Jon Reep, driver Tony Stewart, RCR executive Mike Dillon and others. It will be filmed Feb. 15 at the Daytona Beach Hilton Hotel and air Feb. 19 on Speed.

When Anheuser-Busch last year jumped from Richard Petty Motorsports’ driver Kasey Kahne to Harvick, it decided to dump the marketing “One Night Stand” parties that had been the centerpiece of its marketing around Kahne. Elevation proposed the idea of a roast, and Anheuser-Busch executives liked how a made-for-TV event like that could appeal to casual viewers and not just NASCAR fans.

“This is a way to bring more entertainment value centered around our ‘Grab some Buds’ tag line,” said Brad Brown, A-B’s senior director of sports marketing. “The NASCAR fan is very loyal, but this gives us an opportunity to cross over to the non-NASCAR fan.”

The show on Speed will be supported by Budweiser advertising and will feature the No. 29 Budweiser show car and Bud girls as part of the program. Speed will sell other commercial inventory within the broadcast.

Brown said that Budweiser will not measure the effectiveness of the show on ratings but on its afterlife in digital and social media. If it meets Budweiser’s return-on-objective goals, then A-B will consider producing a similar show next year that could feature Harvick roasting another driver.

“It’s our plan to do this well, and definitely our plan to do more of these,” said Denny Young, Elevation Group president.

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