SBJ/June 27 - July 3, 2011/In Depth

Coke, NASCAR get the party started

Last year, NASCAR wanted to make its championship weekend bigger and better. So, the racing organization decided to have a Coke and a smile — and throw in a beach party, too.

LEADDOG MARKETING GROUP

Brand: Coca-Cola

Property: NASCAR

Agency: LeadDog Marketing Group

The goal: Raise awareness and interest of NASCAR’s final race weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Why it worked: A free concert attracted a crowd of 18,000 spectators, entertaining NASCAR fans and introducing other consumers to the sport.
With the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR, working with Coca-Cola, other sponsors and LeadDog Marketing Group, cooked up a two-day fan festival in Miami Beach called the “Coca-Cola Fuels NASCAR Championship Drive.”

Admission for all events was free, with an evening Zac Brown Band concert on the beach serving as the main attraction.
Steve Sweeney, NASCAR director of consumer marketing, said the festival entertained diehard fans of the sport while also offering music and attractions to appeal to tourists and others who may know next to nothing about lug nuts and carburetors.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to entertain fans, but get in front of non-fans, as well,” Sweeney said. And, with the track located well outside of the city, putting a NASCAR-themed attraction on the beach helped spread the message of the championship weekend. LeadDog, NASCAR and Turner Sports, operator of nascar.com, worked on a live stream of the concert to raise awareness nationally.

About 7,000 people attended the daytime events, including a cook-off competition between Miami’s firehouses, driver appearances and autograph sessions.

Other sponsors including Sprint, Nationwide, Camping World and Kraft brought promotional displays, race simulators, games and samples of their products. All four of NASCAR’s automakers (Toyota, Dodge, Chevy and Ford) participated, too.

For the Zac Brown Band concert, Coke and Sprint were among the companies that built chalets to entertain clients. NASCAR later used footage from the concert as part of a promotional campaign.

The event’s enviable backdrop, combined with the well-received concert, has convinced NASCAR and its partners to aim for an encore this year.

“One of the things that makes experiential campaigns come to life is the setting,” said Dan Mannix, LeadDog president and CEO. “So being there right on the beach with the water helped create the uniqueness for it. That’s part of what the allure was.”

— Erik Spanberg, correspondent
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