New deals boost NASCAR sponsorship revenue
NASCAR increased its annual sponsorship revenue by 5 to 10 percent this year, giving the sanctioning body its first increase in three years.
“We had a strong year on the business development front,” said Jim O’Connell, NASCAR chief sales officer. “It was our best year since 2007. We had strong results in traditional sponsorships with blue-chip, Fortune 500 companies and in the green space and the technology space.”
NASCAR also renewed deals with Mobil 1 and Nabisco and is close to completing extensions with its three auto manufacturers — Ford, General Motors and Toyota.
It remains in renewal talks with Safety-Kleen, its official automotive waste removal partner, and Unilever, which uses the sponsorship to promote its Hellman’s, Klondike, Ragu and Breyers brands. Safety-Kleen is expected to renew, but it’s unclear whether Unilever will return.
Axalta, formerly known as DuPont Performance Coatings, was the only sponsor this year to end its partnership with NASCAR. The sport filled the category with Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes.
O’Connell said the new sponsorships NASCAR landed this year occurred because the economy has stabilized and the sport has been boosted by good news such as its new broadcast agreements and the successful launch of the new Gen-6 stock car.
“A lot of what we do is momentum, and when companies see others investing in the sport, it creates a good story,” O’Connell said.
NASCAR has sponsorships up for renewal in 2014 with Mars, Bank of America, UPS and the COPD Foundation. It has begun talks with those companies, and it continues to look for new sponsors in open categories such as quick-service restaurants, electronics and travel and hotels.
But the bulk of its sales team’s focus is on finding a new title sponsor for the Nationwide Series, the sport’s No. 2 circuit. Nationwide enters the final year of its contract in 2014, and NASCAR is looking to find a replacement by the end of next year.
NASCAR began meeting with brands and agencies about the title sponsorship opportunity this fall. It is asking for $12 million to $15 million a year in rights fees, plus media and activation spending.
O’Connell said NASCAR will continue to meet with prospective sponsors next year. His goal is to find a sponsor by Jan. 15, 2015.
“It’s a great thing to sell,” O’Connell said. “There are a lot of assets and there’s been a lot of interest.”