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Volume 22 No. 49
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CMS takes singer search to social

Rosalee Johnson has dreamed of singing the national anthem at a major sporting event. In fact, it’s on the 26-year-old’s list of 30 things to do before she turns 30.

So when she heard Charlotte Motor Speedway was hosting an “American Idol”-style competition to select national anthem and “God Bless America” singers for its NASCAR races, she spent her lunch hour belting out her best rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a mobile recording studio outside the racetrack. She immediately posted it on her Facebook page and Twitter account and wrote, “Hey everybody. I’ve auditioned to sing the national anthem at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Please vote. The winner is whoever gets the most votes.”

Driver Kenny Wallace helped kick off auditions for the Speedway Superstar Tour in Charlotte.
The video is one of more than 200 collected last week as part of a new, social media campaign developed by CMS. The Speedway Superstar Tour, as the program is called, is a 10-city trek to select singers of the national anthem and “God Bless America” during this weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race and next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. The idea is to collect videos from hundreds of contestants and have them share those videos with friends, who will then come to CMS’s website to vote and possibly consider buying race tickets.

The video Johnson posted shows just how effective the strategy can be. She has 1,377 friends on Facebook, and many of those shared it with their friends, helping her get 1,212 votes within a week of the video’s posting.

“The thing we like about what we’re doing with this enhancement is encouraging and empowering these fans to become social advocates on our behalf and expanding our reach beyond our traditional audience,” said Tim Schuldt, CMS vice president of consumer marketing and sales. “The name of the game [in marketing] is fragmentation of media outlets. The way people are receiving and choosing to receive information has changed and this allows us to reach them.”

CMS hired Charlotte-based Red Moon Marketing to run the program. It is the latest in a string of Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks to adopt the program. Las Vegas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway ran similar programs this year, CMS President Marcus Smith said.

“We thought it was a great way to engage communities around where our fans are from,” Smith said. “I’ve been measuring it on two fronts: both on ticket sales related to mobile marketing but also the publicity and exposure it generates.”

In its first four days, the microsite had 97,000 page views, 9,000 video views and 48,000 unique visitors. The speedway typically averages 66,000 uniques a day, but unlike that traffic, Facebook fed most of the 24,500 visitors a day to the microsite.

CMS chose to take the tour to markets where it doesn’t typically buy much media or pull a large audience, such as Wilmington, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Fayetteville, N.C. It also went to some of its strongest markets, such as Greensboro, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C. and Columbia, S.C.

CMS sponsors Best Buy and Coca-Cola signed on to be presenting sponsors of the tour. Financial terms weren’t available. The majority of the 18 tour stops were at Best Buy locations, and they received promotion on Time Warner Cable and local radio.

Schuldt said the tour cost 10 percent of their marketing budget. Initial return-on-investment numbers were “pleasing.”
“The awareness levels in these markets will be much stronger than they would have been without it,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to do.”