SBJ/March 4-10, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

New ad spots limited to race telecasts

Kim Brink spent months working on NASCAR’s new brand campaign, but found herself fielding the same question when she showed it off to everyone from marketers to reporters during Daytona Speedweeks.

“The top question I get asked is: Where will this run outside of races?” said Brink, NASCAR’s managing director of brand, consumer and series marketing.

The answer: It won’t.

The campaign marks a radical shift for the sport, which switched agencies last year from St. Louis-based Jump to Ogilvy. The ads emphasize the drama and unpredictability of the sport and showcase a swagger that NASCAR executives felt had been absent from past campaigns. Spanish-language spots that
replicate the tone and imagery were also created.

Though NASCAR executives had hoped to buy advertising inventory for the campaign outside of race broadcasts on Fox, Fox Deportes, Turner and ESPN, the sanctioning body has no plans to buy media outside those windows, and it failed to convince its broadcast partners
NASCAR’s new brand campaign showcases a swagger to the sport.
Photo: NASCAR (3)
to shift institutional inventory from races to other broadcasts.

As a result, the more than 20 spots that NASCAR expects to develop this year will run only during race broadcasts on Fox, Fox Deportes, TNT and ESPN. But NASCAR hasn’t given up on getting institutional inventory from broadcast partners outside of race windows in the future.

Brink said NASCAR is writing language into its future broadcast agreements, which will begin in 2015, that gives the sport the flexibility to have spots air during non-race and non-sports programming. Its renewal with Fox, which it cut last year, is the first deal to include that language, and it plans to include it in contract talks with Turner and ESPN later this year.

Until those new agreements kick in, Brink said NASCAR will rely on social media to extend the new campaign beyond the races. It withheld several outtake videos and photos that drivers have begun tweeting and sharing on Facebook.

NASCAR is complementing that social media initiative with a local advertising strategy. Between March and November, the sanctioning body is buying spots across TV, radio and digital media for Spanish-language advertising in Phoenix. The Phoenix area will be a test market, and NASCAR will track the campaign’s effect on ticket sales and Hispanic market interest in NASCAR this year. If it’s effective, Brink said they could expand the approach to other Hispanic markets in the future.

In addition to developing a new campaign for NASCAR, Brink said Ogilvy is helping the sanctioning body by allowing it to tap into the relationships Ogilvy enjoys as a WPP agency. NASCAR’s brand campaign will be shown to WPP’s board of directors, and Brink expects Ogilvy to share it with some of its corporate clients, as well.

“They’ll take the message of NASCAR to different sponsors and businesses than have ever considered us before,” she said. “That’s a big opportunity.”

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