SBJ/Feb. 14-20, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Jewkes accepts NASCAR job he helped create

Nearly six months after completing a review of NASCAR’s communications strategy and recommending the property hire a chief communications officer, Brett Jewkes last week accepted the position that he helped create.

The longtime Taylor executive will oversee the roughly 35-person NASCAR integrated marketing and communications division that he helped design last August. He will join the organization’s senior management team, working closely with NASCAR Chief Executive Brian France, President Mike Helton and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps to develop a long-term communications strategy designed to make the organization more proactive and collaborative in its communications.

In Jewkes, NASCAR found a leader with not only corporate and sports communications experience but also NASCAR experience. He has managed NASCAR-related marketing and PR efforts for Alltel, Ask.com, Diageo and others. Taylor, under his leadership, also conducted an annual survey of NASCAR fans that identified consumption habits and brand and driver affinity.

“Brett’s marketing and communications expertise and broad experience working with top brands at a premier agency, coupled with his very unique understanding of NASCAR and our industry, will be a tremendous asset to our company,” France said in a statement.

Taylor CEO and managing partner Tony Signore said in a statement: “Brett’s passion and knowledge of NASCAR, and his ability to serve as a senior counselor to the industry’s leaders, has been inspiring. We welcome the prospect of working closely with him as a client partner.”

Jewkes will be based in NASCAR’s Charlotte office. He and his family will relocate there from Chicago this summer.

“The challenge of what NASCAR’s embarking on is super-attractive,” Jewkes said of the new communications strategy. “It’s a spectacular professional challenge in an arena that I’m passionate about.”

NASCAR received more than 200 résumés in response to its search for a CCO. The organization, with the support of executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry, narrowed the list and interviewed 10 candidates before settling on three finalists for the job last December.

Jewkes initially wasn’t among the finalists. Phelps said that he was added to the group later because NASCAR leaders thought he would be a good fit for the position. The late addition of Jewkes to the group of finalists delayed the planned announcement of a new CCO from January to last week, Phelps said.

Phelps declined to name the other three finalists.

“We went through the process, and Brett wasn’t even a passing thought until the end,” Phelps said. “It became clear as I looked at what we needed to accomplish, the combination of Brett’s expertise and his vision for our IMC division made him the person we should go after.”

Though Jewkes won’t start full time until April 13, he already met with most NASCAR team executives in January during a series of meetings that Phelps conducted about the communications review and other studies Taylor has undertaken on NASCAR’s behalf.

“This is not just an operational change, it’s a mind-set change,” Jewkes said. “In one year, I’d like people to say that competition is better than it’s always been, which is strong, and that we’ve added some really good strategic thinkers.”

NASCAR plans to add seven to 10 people to its communications staff.

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