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Volume 21 No. 1

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NASCAR is beefing up its brand and consumer marketing division in its efforts to reach a younger and more diverse audience.

Greg Downey, a former marketing executive at Coca-Cola, came on board in recent weeks as the senior director of brand and consumer marketing. He’ll report to managing director Kim Brink.

David Zane, who came from ESPN, will direct the brand marketing team and report to Downey, while Joseph “Pepe” Machin will start later this month as the director of multicultural marketing.

The positions for Downey and Machin are new, while Zane was hired to fill an existing position.

Brink said the hires were part of NASCAR’s “Industry Action Plan” to expand the fan base for a sport that has seen attendance and TV viewership decline in recent years.

“We’re specifically looking at how we’re going to grow the fan base in three important areas — youth, Generation Y and multicultural,” Brink said. “These positions will lay out the tactics of how we’ll do that.”

Downey’s team will drive NASCAR’s interaction with fans, whether it’s advertising, promotions or events designed to attract new eyeballs.

Brink is the primary contact for NASCAR with its new agency of record, Ogilvy, but Downey will be active with the agency as well.

At Coca-Cola, Downey oversaw all aspects of entertainment marketing, including TV sponsorships, branded entertainment and celebrity endorsements. Before that, Downey was vice president of branded entertainment at NBC Universal.

Zane joins NASCAR after serving as an associate director in ESPN’s sports marketing unit. Machin has consulted with several companies, such as KFC Foods, Nissan and Bank of America home loans on their multicultural efforts.

Brink said the consumer and brand marketing team already has begun working with Ogilvy on “a communications plan to launch the 2013 season.”