SBJ/January 7-13, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sprint replaces Bud for NASCAR season opener

Sprint is adding another sponsorship to its NASCAR portfolio.

The title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series signed a multiyear deal to sponsor the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. The race, which was formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout, will become the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. It will be held Feb. 16 and broadcast on Fox at 8 p.m.

Budweiser switched its sponsorship from the Shootout to the Duels race.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Sources valued the deal in the mid-six figures annually.

Daytona President Joie Chitwood approached Sprint with the opportunity last year. The sponsorship became available after Gatorade opted to discontinue its sponsorship of the annual Duels race that serves as the qualifier for the Daytona 500. Budweiser signed on to sponsor the Duels, which meant Daytona needed to find a new partner for the Shootout.

Chitwood met with Sprint’s Steve Gaffney, vice president of corporate marketing, and Tim Considine, director of sports marketing, last spring and negotiations picked up last summer. He said he never met with any other potential sponsors.

“The relationship they have with NASCAR and the drivers means they can do some things promotionally other partners couldn’t,” Chitwood said.

Sprint chose to call the race the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona because the company’s marketing strategy is focused on contrasting the unlimited data plans it offers with the limited data packages sold by competitors AT&T and Verizon.

The Kansas City-based company is beginning its 10th season as title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series. In addition to being the title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and signing on to sponsor the opening race of the season, the telecom company sponsors NASCAR’s annual all-star race in May.

The company will announce its activation plans later this month. Part of it will focus on integrating fans into the race. Fans attending the race will be eligible to receive special upgraded race experiences, including roles as grand marshal, honorary starter and trophy presenter.

“It is the ideal way to start this milestone season,” Gaffney said, “and we look forward to sharing all of the details later this month.”

Octagon advises Sprint on its NASCAR marketing.

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