Danica Struggling On Track In NASCAR, But Her Move Is A Success Business-Wise
Danica Patrick currently sits 10th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings in her first full year in the series, but she “is seemingly everywhere, making headlines and attracting attention for a host of high-paying sponsors,” according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. Television ratings for the Nationwide Series “are up, and many believe she has made an impact.” That, along with her “wide marketing appeal, makes her move to NASCAR a success.” Neither the “mediocre performance on the track nor the polarizing reaction of fans … matters off the track.” Joyce Julius & Associates indicated that Patrick's appearance in this year's Daytona 500, her Sprint Cup debut, generated $11.8M "in TV exposure for her sponsors," compared with $11.6M for race winner Matt Kenseth. Pockrass noted Coca-Cola execs, who signed Patrick to a new sponsorship deal early this month, “care very little about Patrick’s initial results on the track.” They care that she "connects with males between the ages of 18 and 34, the key demographic of their Coke Zero marketing campaign.” A series of videos featuring Patrick “spiked traffic by 33 percent on Nationwide’s Facebook page during the racing offseason.” Coca-Cola Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Sharon Byers said, “She’s just right now at the top of pop culture. Any discussions you hear on and off the track, Danica Patrick comes into all of those discussions.” Motorsports Authentics VP Chris Williams noted that at tracks where Patrick raced last year, “her trackside merchandise sales ranked easily in the top 10." Pockrass noted she "consistently ranks sixth or seventh in at-track sales behind the top five” of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Patrick’s merchandise sales “are split, with 68 percent among males and 32 percent among females.” Her No. 7 Nationwide car merchandise sales also “have increased by 60 percent this year” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/23).
SOME GIRLS HAVE ALL THE LUCK: Pockrass in a separate piece noted Patrick “uses everything at her disposal to attract sponsors and market her image.” Part of that includes “having the best finish of any woman ever” in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Nationwide Series. But it also includes “appearing twice in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, posing for Maxim and several suggestive Go Daddy commercials.” Pockrass asked, “Would companies and race teams be attracted to her if she were a he?” IMG Senior VP/Business Innovation Mark Dyer said, “I don’t even know how to respond to that because Danica is Danica. The reason IMG is involved with her is that she is a sports celebrity that transcends the sport that she’s in.” Patrick: “I’m a girl, and to say that I can’t use being a girl doesn’t make any sense. In this world, there is so much competition out there and you have to use ... everything that you have to make sponsors happy, to attract them and to be unique and different” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/23).