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Volume 23 No. 28
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Comcast building three pillars for Xfinity Series sponsorship

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

Comcast has five months before the checkered flag drops on the first race of the Xfinity Series, but the company already has begun making plans for promoting its video and Internet service’s NASCAR sponsorship.

Announced earlier this month, the 10-year title sponsorship, which is valued at nearly $200 million. appealed to Comcast because it offered the company a chance to tie itself to a nationally relevant sport with strong live viewership, said Matt Lederer, Comcast senior director of sports marketing. It also aligned it with a sports property in NASCAR that is focusing on bringing technology into the sport by adding elements to pit road that allow NASCAR to deliver more information to fans. And it gave the company access to drivers and the millions of fans who follow the sport.

Comcast’s Peter Intermaggio (left) and NASCAR’s Brian France announce the deal Sept. 3.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
“Everything we do will be grounded in all three of those pillars,” Lederer said.

Unlike outgoing title sponsor Nationwide, which focused on raising brand awareness and finding new customers through media and at-track activities, the focus at Comcast will be on enhancing the experience of existing customers and attracting new customers by providing NASCAR-related enhancements at home.

Xfinity plans to develop a NASCAR-themed element for its X1 sports app, which allows cable subscribers to pull up a module about a sporting event while they’re watching TV. Lederer said the idea would be to provide subscribers with leaderboards and statistics like the times drivers are lagging behind the leader.

“We want to give a viewing experience for NASCAR fans like they’ve never seen before,” Lederer said. “We hope this will get people to stay with the race [when it’s on TV], understand the race more and watch more races.”

Comcast also owns NBC, which has a 10-year, $4.4 billion TV-rights agreement with NASCAR and an interest in driving viewership for races.

Xfinity plans to complement its in-home efforts around the X1 app with out-of-home marketing. Lederer said there will be social and digital media promotions and sweepstakes for fans. There also is a chance that the company will look to bring its Xfinity Couch concept to NASCAR races.

The Xfinity Couch is a marketing program Comcast developed in 2011. It has involved replacing premium, front-row seats at sporting events such as NFL and Major League Baseball games with a giant red couch featuring the Xfinity logo. The idea is to show that Xfinity provides the best seat in the house for live sports, and fans have been randomly selected to sit in the seats for games.

Lederer said that Comcast is considering bringing the Xfinity Couch to NASCAR tracks but hasn’t committed to it.

Xfinity plans to have an on-site activation area that highlights the brand’s video and Internet services. Lederer said that Comcast hasn’t determined if it will do that at all NASCAR tracks hosting Xfinity Series races or just at tracks that are in Comcast markets. The company offers Xfinity services in 40 states but it doesn’t have a presence in several major NASCAR markets such as the Carolinas and Texas.

“Obviously, we have a complexity that other brands don’t have, but we’re looking to engage with NASCAR fans as much as we can,” Lederer said.

The company is working with GMR Marketing on its activation plans. In addition to in-home and out-of-home promotions, it plans to develop employee programs and a business-to-business effort that connects it with other NASCAR sponsors, Lederer said.

“NASCAR has a lot of different platforms they offer up to sponsors,” he said. “The ability to interface with a lot of different sponsors and … opportunities to enhance and engage employees are important.”