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Volume 20 No. 42
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Geico to title first Chase race

Top insurance spender sponsoring Chicagoland stop

Geico has signed a three-year deal to title sponsor Chicagoland Speedway’s fall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The deal gives Geico significant exposure in one of the nation’s largest media markets and a high-profile position as the naming-rights partner for the first Chase for the Sprint Cup race. It’s the first time the company has ever done a title-rights agreement in any sport.

Terms of the deal weren’t available, but race title sponsorships typically sell for around $1 million a year. Sources said the Geico deal was backloaded so that the company would pay less this year and more in the final two years of the deal. It includes marketing and promotional commitments.

“We’ve had a history of B2B title partners, and we’re excited to have a consumer partner,” said Chicagoland President Scott Paddock said. “We’re excited about their history and commitment to activation. The media and promotional support of this is going to be outstanding. They understand the opportunity this platform provides for them and are putting a very attractive amount of resources behind it.”

The deal is Geico’s second this year with International Speedway Corp., which owns Chicagoland and 11 other Sprint Cup Series tracks. It previously signed a five-year, seven-track sponsorship at ISC-owned campsites. The company underindexes in the Chicago market where competitors like Allstate and State Farm are headquartered.

After playing host to sellout crowds for eight consecutive years, 80,000-seat Chicagoland experienced a drop in attendance last summer. ISC wants to reverse those trends this year. It named Paddock, a longtime Gatorade marketer, as president of Chicagoland earlier this year and he’s worked to drive ticket sales by undertaking fan-friendly changes such as offering wider bench seating and allowing spectators to bring coolers to the race.

The race sponsorship extends Geico’s spending in sports. It is the leading sports spender in the insurance category. It increased its sports spending by 30 percent in 2010 to $216 million.

Geico has not made a commitment to buy media for the race. That is sold separately by ESPN, which televises the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The deal with Geico closes out one of three open race title sponsorships for ISC. The company is in final negotiations on deals for Richmond and Talladega.