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Volume 23 No. 13
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Camping World extends NASCAR deal

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Camping World has extended its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s truck series through 2022.

The recreational vehicle retailer, which became title sponsor of the series in 2009, signed a seven-year extension that will begin in 2016. The deal is valued at more than $5 million a year in rights fees and media commitments.

Camping World credits the sponsorship with helping the company double its revenue from 2009.
Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who stars in the CNBC show “The Profit,” credited the Camping World Truck Series sponsorship with helping his company increase its revenue from $1.5 billion annually in 2009 to $3 billion annually today. He also said it helped in adding 27 new retail locations and reducing the age of Camping World customers from a 47- to 65-year-old demographic to a 35- to 65-year-old demographic.

“The return on investment I have gotten out of this entitlement has honestly shocked me,” Lemonis said. “When I did the first deal, I was told by [NASCAR Chairman] Brian France over dinner that I would be pleased with the return on investment. … But I’ve been stunned by my ability to expand the brand and open stores.”

In addition to renewing Camping World’s title sponsorship of the truck series, Lemonis managed to extend NASCAR sponsorships to several of his other businesses. Camping World will be able to market its Good Sam Roadside Assistance towing service as the official roadside assistance of NASCAR., which buys and sells used cars, will become the official auto buying service of NASCAR, and AutoMatch USA, which sells used cars, will be the official pre-owned automobile retailer of NASCAR.

Lemonis said he will promote those companies at races and use the NASCAR marks to raise the profiles of those brands.

Camping World didn’t work with an agency on the extension and doesn’t use an agency to activate its sponsorship assets. Lemonis said that he prefers to have his marketing team oversee promotional efforts. He said that group will have to help Camping World’s NASCAR-related promotions evolve over the next seven years to keep it engaging for fans.

“It’s like a TV commercial,” Lemonis said. “You have to stay fresh and relevant.”

A year ago, Lemonis expressed concern that truck ratings might suffer after Fox recast its motorsports network Speed as the all-sports network Fox Sports 1. But he said he’s been pleased with the ratings on the network, which was part of the reason he extended the deal.

On Speed, the Camping World Truck Series averaged 681,000 viewers per race in 2012. The same races on Fox Sports 1 last year averaged 736,000 viewers per race, an 8 percent increase.

The Camping World extension comes at an important time for NASCAR. The sport’s sales team continues to look for a new title sponsor for its secondary circuit, the Nationwide Series. Nationwide Insurance last year decided it would exit its title sponsorship and instead sponsor a Sprint Cup team. By getting Camping World to renew, NASCAR avoided having to find two new title sponsors in consecutive years.

NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell said NASCAR has had several meetings with companies about the Nationwide Series opportunity, but he declined to say what companies had been pitched or what categories had been targeted. Sources familiar with the search said NASCAR has focused on auto parts retailers such as Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone.

“We’re talking to a number of different companies in a number of different categories,” O’Connell said. “What’s important is [finding] the right company to help us grow the sport.”

NASCAR announced its current deal with Nationwide in September 2007, and it hopes to name a new title sponsor in the third or fourth quarter of this year.