SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

UPS brand powers NASCAR.com content

A new UPS program on NASCAR.com blurs the line between content and advertising — intentionally.

UPS launched a series of videos called “Ideas That Changed NASCAR” this month on NASCAR’s official website. Two of the videos, which range from two to three minutes, are available on the site, while four more are planned for release between now and the end of the season.

The videos represent the most significant example of branded content by a NASCAR official partner on the website, said Matt Shulman, NASCAR’s managing director of marketing platforms. UPS has been a NASCAR official partner since 2000 and its latest deal runs through 2014. The company also has a sponsorship on Carl Edwards’ car at Roush Fenway Racing.

“This is great branded entertainment,” Shulman said. “All of the brand attributes of UPS, like logistics, innovation and efficiency, come through in the storytelling. It totally merges the concepts of content and advertising.”

The videos explore different innovations that changed the sport and feature interviews with many of NASCAR’s greats, as well as archived race footage. They appear on the NASCAR.com main page under a category called “Features.”

The first two videos focus on pit crews and race control. The newest version features legendary race promoter Humpy Wheeler describing how he brought lights to Charlotte Motor Speedway and made night racing possible. Woven into the videos are references to logistics, the primary marketing theme for UPS.

NASCAR Productions produced the videos, which constitute a media buy with NASCAR.com. Turner Sports manages the site for NASCAR through this year and then NASCAR will take over its operations.

The “Ideas That Changed NASCAR” initiative represents UPS’s primary activation for the season. Terms of the buy were not available.

“We’ve made a variety of buys with NASCAR.com in the past, from banner ads to promotions, but we’ve never done content like this,” said Jennifer Oliveras, the global sponsorship manager for UPS in Atlanta. “Working with NASCAR helped us gain access to interviews and race footage, and the themes of innovation and game-changers are natural connections for our business.”

UPS has worked with branded content before on its NCAA sponsorship, using coaches like Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma in both commercials and online videos to talk about the logistics of a basketball play.

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