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Volume 20 No. 46
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Roush Fenway adds marketing services group

Roush Fenway Racing is restructuring its marketing operations division and adding a strategic marketing group charged with designing activation programs for new and existing sponsors.

The team is making the move in response to a changing sponsorship marketplace. Roush previously had a marketing sales and operations division that was focused on landing new partners and fulfilling those sponsor contracts. That structure worked well during the sport’s boom that ran from the late 1990s through 2007. During that period, corporations lined up to sponsor teams and managed most of their marketing programs independently.

But the revolving door of sponsors stopped spinning after the recession, and teams began to feel pressure to keep existing sponsors by improving return-on-investment figures or to land new sponsors by coming to them armed with marketing plans that worked for their business.

To do that more effectively, Roush is creating a marketing services division that will be overseen by longtime employee Kevin Thomas, who was recently named vice president of strategic marketing. He will oversee a five-person staff that will work on sponsorship activation for existing partners, digital and social media initiatives, and communications, which used to be part of the team’s marketing operations division. The team hired a new social and digital marketing specialist and transitioned one of its communications employees into a digital role.

Roush also hired longtime agency executive Mike Mooney, who ran The Marketing Arm’s Charlotte office, as vice president of partnership development. He will be charged with working with Roush’s sales team, led by Pete Thuresson, to develop marketing programs that appeal to new sponsors.

The team will continue to have a sponsor operations group that fulfills sponsor contracts and manages paint schemes, firesuits and driver appearances. It will be overseen by vice president Joyce Caron-Mercier.

“We view this as an evolution,” said Steve Newmark, Roush Fenway Racing’s president. “Historically, the sport was about selling paint on the car. That model in my view isn’t sufficient anymore, and we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to shift away from that and make sure we can offer comprehensive marketing programs that happen to be centered around a sport as opposed to being a sport that has some marketing benefits.”

During the restructuring, Roush hired five new employees over the last two months (see chart). Two sales executives and two operations executives left the team.

The team renewed deals with all nine of its sponsors who had agreements that were up at the end of last year. Five of those sponsors were Sprint Cup partners, two were Nationwide Series partners and two were associate sponsors across its suite of teams. The team has eight Sprint Cup races and about 36 Nationwide races to sell this year.

Newmark hopes that the restructuring bolsters the team’s effort to retain existing sponsors and land new ones.

“When we’re out there talking to prospects, we want to be able to present a turnkey program that their marketing team can say, ‘This will be easy to implement,’” Newmark said. “Even more importantly is working with existing partners to help them grow and take advantage of the assets we have and make the motorsports program more ingrained in how they think about marketing.”