SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Chase tracks get marketing funds

In an effort to raise the profile of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR is handing racetracks some of its marketing dollars and increasing the amount of at-track branding.

The move is designed to raise the visibility of the Chase, the postseason that NASCAR launched in 2004, and differentiate Chase races from regular-season events. It’s the latest in a series of moves by NASCAR to assist tracks in regional promotions of Chase races. The sanctioning body also sent Chase drivers to each race market for the first time this season.

NASCAR is supporting track promotions with a national media campaign.
“We want the fan to understand this isn’t just another race,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketer. “The end result we hope will be greater fan interaction and engagement.”

Each of the 10 tracks participating in the Chase is using NASCAR’s marketing dollars differently. Chicagoland created Chase-branded wraps for double-decker buses in the region; Charlotte plans to use the money for Chase-branded billboards.

“Instead of doing our own individual things around Chase week, we’ve really combined our efforts, and that’s the way it’s supposed to work,” said Chicagoland Speedway President Scott Paddock. “It will give next week the big-event look and feel it deserves.”

In addition to regional advertising efforts, each track is increasing Chase branding at its facility. Besides painting Chase logos on the infield grass and walls, there will be yellow and black checkers at the start-finish line of each track and Chase logos at fan entryways and tunnels.

Phelps said he expects NASCAR to put Chase logos in even more places at tracks in 2012. “We want to continue pumping dollars and branding into what is a relatively new concept for us,” he said.

NASCAR is supporting the track’s promotions with a national media campaign developed by Jump Co., a St. Louis-based agency. The campaign features the tag line “This Is Why We Drive” and shows images of past NASCAR champions.

NASCAR developed two 30-second radio spots and two 30-second and 15- and 10-second TV spots. Those advertisements will run across Speed and ESPN, which are obligated through their television rights agreements to provide promotional support to NASCAR.

The spots began running in August and will continue to air until mid-November. NASCAR estimates that the spots will generate 250 million impressions.

As in years past, a limited number of NASCAR partners are activating against the Chase. The most significant promotion around the Chase is from Dollar General, which is running a sweepstakes in 9,500 stores nationwide. NASCAR official partners such as Unilever and Coca-Cola are participating in that promotion.

The sanctioning body in November will host its second fan festival on South Beach. The event, known as Championship Drive, is being supported by Ford and Coca-Cola and will include a concert and corporate hospitality opportunities. Phelps said he anticipates other sponsors will activate around the event, as well.

“It’s early on, but I think we’re going to continue to drive success for it and that’s important for us,” Phelps said. “We’re going to crown a champion there [in Miami], and we want to be sure the fans coming to Miami and the people who live there experience a big-event feel.”

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