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Volume 21 No. 1
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Quaker State increases NASCAR spending

Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 car is featured in point-of-sale material at Wal-Mart.
Sunday’s scheduled Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway marked the highlight of the motor oil brand’s effort to redouble its marketing in NASCAR.

At a time when Crown Royal, Caterpillar and others are reducing their NASCAR spending, Quaker State has increased its NASCAR budget. The company, which has been associate sponsor at Hendrick Motorsports for 15 years, last year signed a new partnership with the team to be the primary sponsor for four races on the No. 5 Chevy and later signed a deal for its first Sprint Cup race title sponsorship at Kentucky Speedway.

Quaker State cut back on price promotions in order to free up additional marketing money for NASCAR, said Chris Hayek, Quaker State’s global brand manager. The marketing shift was driven by a desire to connect with NASCAR fans who are amateur mechanics or employees at oil-change service stations.

“When we sat down to look at our planning [for 2011], there were a lot of conversations about people cutting spending and pulling out of motorsports,” Hayek said. “We sat down and said, ‘The value of NASCAR, who it appeals to and how it appeals, hasn’t changed.’ When you look at the counter man or mechanic, they all love NASCAR.”

The four-race primary deal allowed Quaker State to have the dominant branding on the firesuit of Mark Martin, who drives the No. 5 car, and the car itself. It’s been able to incorporate that imagery into its advertising and promotions. It also has access to the other drivers in Hendrick’s stable: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson.

It has featured Gordon in point-of-sale material at Wal-Mart, Earnhardt Jr. in online advertising and Johnson in training videos for mechanics at service stations specializing in oil changes.

It subsequently signed the Kentucky title deal and paid for the media rights to the race on TNT in order to raise its national profile and provide hospitality for its distributors and sales team. It was due to host sales representatives and distributors at this past weekend’s race.

The Hendrick and Kentucky deals carried some business-to-business opportunities, as well. Hendrick operates 72 dealerships , and Kentucky Speedway is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., whose chairman, Bruton Smith, is the owner of Sonic Automotive, a 20-dealership operation. Quaker State will be the preferred oil at those operations.

At the end of 2011, Hayek said, Quaker State will measure the impact its NASCAR marketing has had on consumer recall and brand recognition.

Quaker State’s motorsports marketing agency is Sports Dimensions Inc.