SBJ/Aug. 11-17, 2014/Events and Attractions

Ganassi ‘Bash’ targets young crowd

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Chip Ganassi Racing is throwing a social media party it hopes will help the team attract young, millennial fans.

The “Ganassi Sound Garage, a Digi Bash” is an invitation-only event on Sept. 8 that will cater to hundreds of 15- to 24-year-old social media influencers who will get a chance to meet the team’s youngest drivers and attend a concert performed by country pop singer Cassadee Pope, a former competitor on “The Voice.” It will be held at the team’s shop in Concord, N.C.

Invitees can meet young Ganassi drivers Kwasniewski, Larson and Karam and “The Voice” performer Cassadee Pope (below).
Photo by: CHIP GANASSI RACING

The idea to throw a “Digi Bash” concert grew out of a staff meeting last year. The team was wrestling with how to attract young fans and promote its stable of young drivers, who include Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson, 22; Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski, 19; and sports car and IndyCar driver Sage Karam, 19. Sponsorship account manager Brad Zimmerman floated the idea of hosting a concert and inviting young people with large social media followings.

“It became a collective effort from that point on of what we could do to tell this story,” said John Olguin, Ganassi Racing’s vice president of communications. “Music and social media are both paramount to this group. It’s a chance to bring those together and introduce these guys as young, cool drivers that [invited guests] can follow.”

The team plans to make the “Digi Bash” an annual event. It is going to ask some of its existing sponsors to help underwrite the event.

NASCAR and IndyCar will stream the concert on their websites.

Ganassi Racing is working with MVPIndex, a sports social media agency, to identify young people in the Carolinas with large social media followings to invite to the event. It expects 175 to 300 people to attend.

Big Machine Records, an associate sponsor of the team that works with artists such as Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, liked the idea and worked with the team to bring its artist, Pope, to perform at the event.

A rendering shows the stage for “Ganassi Sound Garage, a Digi Bash.”

The team plans to set up a reverse red carpet where guests walk down the red carpet toward Larson, Karam, Kwasniewski and Pope. They will be able to meet the drivers and singer and take selfies and photos with them. There also will be cars on display from Ganassi’s auto partner, General Motors.

“One of the things we know about social media and millennials is user-generated content is king, so everything is about trying to generate their own content,” Olguin said.

Ganassi Racing plans to track the amount of social media generated by guests at the event. It also plans to look at how much people who don’t attend interact with the tweets, photos and Facebook posts created by guests.

“What we really want to do is take a look at this and see what it does in order to set expectations for the following years,” Olguin said. “We’re going to learn a lot.”

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