SBJ/April 30-May 6, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ganassi signs Bud to sponsor Rahal-driven Indy 500 entry

Budweiser’s sponsorship of Bobby Rahal put the brand in victory lane at the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Anheuser-Busch hopes Rahal’s son, Graham, can do the same this May.

Anheuser-Busch has signed an associate sponsorship with Chip Ganassi Racing that will put its Budweiser brand on the side of the No. 38 Service Central IndyCar that Graham Rahal will drive in this year’s Indy 500. Associate level IndyCar sponsorships with elite teams for the Indianapolis 500 typically are valued in the low to mid-six figures.

Budweiser can use point-of-sale material with Graham Rahal at any outlet it chooses.
The deal gives Budweiser distributors an opportunity to feature Rahal and IndyCar in point-of-sale materials throughout May. The brand plans to put up outdoor billboards featuring Rahal and the No. 38 car and use Rahal for in-market appearances.

By signing Rahal, Budweiser is able to tie itself more closely to the Indy 500 despite not being the official beer of the event. MillerCoors holds that position and uses it to promote its Miller Lite brand, which is the presenting sponsor of Carb Day.

Budweiser has a history of working with Ganassi Racing. The brand was featured on the rear wing of Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 9 Target car in 2000. But working with Graham Rahal, whose primary sponsorship is with auto retailer Service Central, gives the brand more flexibility with its activation than it enjoyed more than a decade ago. Unlike Target, Service Central doesn’t sell beer, so Budweiser can use point-of-sale material with Rahal at any outlet it chooses.

“It’s a great opportunity for Graham and Service Central to be featured by a company that does a tremendous amount of in-market support,” said Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta. “Print ads, billboards, point-of-sale: It’s all great visibility for our team and our primary sponsor.”

The deal is a one-race agreement, but Lauletta said he hopes Budweiser will see enough success to return for another stint as an associate sponsor. Ganassi’s NASCAR team recently saw Liftmaster expand its 2011 associate sponsorship to include a primary paint scheme at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this fall on Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 car.

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