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Volume 21 No. 2
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NHRA isolates the ‘Nitro Gene’ in new campaign

At a time when motorsports is looking for ways to appeal to younger fans, the NHRA is rolling out a marketing campaign designed to connect with kids, young adults and older fans alike.

The organization developed the tag line “Nitro Generation” and creative that asks fans questions to determine whether they have the “Nitro Gene” in an effort to encourage fans to identify themselves as drag racing enthusiasts. For example, an NHRA banner ad asks, “Does the smell of burning rubber make you salivate? Our studies show you might have the Nitro Gene!” The banner ad includes a link to buy tickets for a coming race.

“This really resonates strongly across our fan base and allows us to talk to all aspects across it,” said Gary Darcy, the NHRA’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Fans see it and go, ‘Yeah, that’s me. I belong to that. My family belongs to that.’”

The NHRA is using “Nitro Gene” ads online, in print and during race broadcasts on ESPN. The association is supporting the ad campaign with a sweepstakes that will award a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and Ford F-150 truck to the winning fan.

To reach young adults, the NHRA is increasing its use of social media to promote the campaign. It is encouraging fans to post a photo of themselves illustrating why they have the “Nitro Gene” on the NHRA’s Facebook page.

To reach kids, the NHRA decided to extend its policy of admitting children younger than 12 free for races. It began doing that midway through the 2011 season.

The NHRA doesn’t track youth interest, but youth interest in the nation’s largest motorsport, NASCAR, has decreased in recent years.

The campaign was developed by the NHRA marketing team, Darcy said.