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Volume 24 No. 112
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Motorsports Marketing Forum: Execs Discuss Ways To Attract A New Audience

NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller told ’13 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum attendees that the key to intriguing creative in NASCAR is “trying to engage the core (fan) and then broaden it out.” Miller said NBC has done that recently with creative around F1's Monaco Grand Prix and U.S. Grand Prix in Austin. “What we want to do is capture the size of it all, the international scope,” he said. “In the first race we put on the network, we really focused on Monaco and the stars and the parties and the yachts, as well as the racing. But we wanted to make it bigger than the race. We thought we would have the F1 fans -- they are very loyal and were going to be there anyway -- but we wanted to broaden beyond that.” NASCAR VP/Marketing Kim Brink said that before '13, there were “two narratives that we were missing from a creative perspective." Brink said, "We were underutilizing our drivers. In many cases we didn’t use the drivers in our campaign at all, which is kind of crazy because the drivers are a critical part of our family.” She also said NASCAR was not highlighting the unpredictability of the sport enough. But NASCAR attempted to find those missing traits in its “Twist” spot, which debuted during February’s Daytona 500 and featured an array of drivers both young and old. The spot also highlighted the dangers involved in NASCAR. Ogilvy & Mather Account Dir Dan Langlitz said, “It’s not something the core fans are used to seeing, but crucially, it’s something that I think provokes reconsideration for new fans.”

TAKING A HUMOROUS APPROACH: Brink said NASCAR’s goal with its “Resume” fantasy racing spot was to bring out the humor and personalities of the Sprint Cup drivers participating: “We would kind of prompt them on what we wanted them to say, but we really just let them roll. At some point we’ll pull on the drama, like with ‘Twist’, but other times we’ll use a sense of humor.” Langlitz: “You don’t very often get to see (drivers) with their helmets off acting like themselves. That’s crucial to building relationships with the fans. That spot was to promote fantasy NASCAR, but it was also to let you know that these guys have personalities. They’re funny. They’re like us.”

REVERSING RATINGS: Average IndyCar viewership in ’13 dipped below 1 million, but Miller said the fact that NBC in the future will carry three motorsports properties should allow the network to cross-promote and send ratings back up. However, NBC shares IndyCar rights with ESPN/ABC, and Miller said that keeps the network from being able to “utilize our full muscle from a marketing standpoint.”

For more from the Motorsports Marketing Forum, please see our On The Ground blog.