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Volume 21 No. 2
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Wal-Mart revs up NASCAR ‘Time’

A year after signing a licensing deal with NASCAR, Wal-Mart is expanding its marketing activity in the sport by adding promotions in 500 additional stores this February and doubling its race market activities from a year ago.

The expansion means Wal-Mart will promote NASCAR in 2,000 of its stores next month in a program it’s calling “Race Time.” The program will showcase large, race-themed displays from consumer packaged goods brands active in NASCAR.

Wal-Mart will extend its NASCAR-themed marketing activities throughout the season by bringing show cars and hosting driver appearances at retail outlets in race markets. It is doubling the number of Wal-Marts it visits in each race market from four to eight.

Wal-Mart’s “Race Time” program will feature displays from brands active in NASCAR.
Photo by: WAL-MART
The company will use those events to promote its “Family Track Pack” offering, which provides families with four tickets, four soft drinks, four hot dogs and one souvenir program for $99. The promotion is available for 17 of 36 Sprint Cup races.

“Last year was really about laying a foundation for a long-term partnership,” said Rand Waddoups, senior director, entertainment properties and brands at Wal-Mart. “We didn’t get in as much as we will this year. It’s important we create loyalty at the track and at the store.”

Just 12 companies participated in Wal-Mart’s “Race Time” promotion last year, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and MillerCoors. This year, there will be 40 participants. Among the new participants are The Clorox Co., which will show off its brands Clorox, Kingsford, Glad, Hidden Valley and KC Masterpiece; Kellogg’s, which will feature Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies; and Unilever, which will incorporate Hellman’s, Ragu and Breyers.

The “Race Time” program was an integral piece of the licensing deal NASCAR Team Properties put together with Wal-Mart. Teams wanted a deal that would offer retail exposure for their corporate sponsors, but the deal was finalized just before the Daytona 500, giving Wal-Mart limited time to develop its in-store promotion and find brands to support it.

NASCAR officials are hopeful that the inclusion of more companies will improve the return on investment that participants see from race-related marketing efforts.

“It’s about giving sponsors more visibility, more exposure and business,” said Blake Davidson, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing and consumer products. “We’re having companies come to us and say they want to be a part of it and get involved. That’s huge. It delivers a kind of exposure the race teams need to deliver value back to partners.”

Waddoups said Wal-Mart will be more aggressive in promoting its $99 track pass.

“We sold a good number, but we think we’re nowhere near scratching the surface of what we can sell,” he said. “That’s why we’re expanding it. It’s a phenomenal way to bring value to a customer.”

The participating International Speedway Corp. tracks are Auto Club Speedway in California, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Talladega Speedway and Watkins Glen International. The participating Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks are expected to be Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Pocono and Dover, which are independently owned, also are participating.

In addition to those seasonlong promotions, Wal-Mart last week announced it will promote its 50th anniversary by doing a one-race primary sponsorship with Turner Motorsports at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona on July 7. NASCAR legend and retired driver Bill Elliott will race a No. 50 entry.

Waddoups believes Wal-Mart’s promotional efforts in NASCAR this year mark a measured step forward in its involvement in the sport. He said the company will evaluate the results and make decisions about how much it will increase its promotional efforts in 2012. “We’re going to get more involved,” he said.

He didn’t rule out doing something more “aggressive” in the future, but said the company won’t sign a primary sponsorship with a team because such a move might estrange people who aren’t fans of a particular driver. He also said it doesn’t have plans to sign endorsement deals with multiple drivers, as Gillette did with its “Young Guns” program.

“We want to make continued growth and measured progress, but we’re not ready to go all the way to the level of full-scale sponsorship,” Waddoups said. “Being one of the largest companies in the world and having the kind of excitement we could have with the customer, it’s really easy for someone to say, ‘We want to get married and have five kids together.’ We’re going to be more measured with that. That said, we’re moving in a positive direction.”

The Marketing Arm consulted on Wal-Mart’s NASCAR strategy and planning.