SBJ/January 30-February 5, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

MillerCoors pours it on, extends deals across NASCAR

At a time when many NASCAR sponsors are cutting back on the number of races they sponsor, MillerCoors has extended its commitment to run a full-season primary.

The beer company last week announced early, multiyear extensions with Penske Racing and NASCAR that will see the Miller Lite brand retain its primary spot for 36 races on the No. 2 Dodge and the Coors Light brand maintain its position as the sport’s official beer and presenting sponsor of the pole award.

MillerCoors’ current agreements with Penske and NASCAR were to have expired at the end of 2012. Financial terms of the deals were not available, though full-season primary deals on elite Sprint Cup cars can run $20 million or more.

In addition to the team and sanctioning body sponsorships, MillerCoors has signed seven track sponsorships with speedways in Chicago, Indianapolis, Talladega, Richmond, New Hampshire, Las Vegas and Charlotte.

“There are so many factors that go into these decisions,” said Jackie Woodward, vice president of media and marketing services at MillerCoors. “Miller Lite will be now one of the few primary sponsors throughout the season. We looked at it and said, ‘This is an important place to be.’ NASCAR fans are beer drinkers. We need to be there and we need to be there for the long haul.”

Under terms of the new agreement, Coors Light will get more signage around its pole award at tracks.

NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell said the sport’s sanctioning body didn’t speak to any other beer companies about a potential sponsorship. Coors Light has been the official beer of NASCAR since 2008, and NASCAR focused solely on getting an early renewal done.

“The deal is working for both parties really well. There was no reason to wait,” O’Connell said. “They’re one of the best activators out there in all of sport and their calendars have a long lead time, so it made sense for them to have their plans firm as early as possible.”

It’s the third early renewal NASCAR has signed in the last six months. Last year, it announced early renewals with Sprint and Goodyear, two of its biggest partners. It still has deals with Gillette and DirecTV up at the end of the year.

Woodward said Miller Lite and Coors Light will continue to activate aggressively at retail, but one of its biggest areas of focus will be on digital marketing.

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