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Volume 22 No. 39
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Monster sprints to the start

The Daytona wall isn’t the only place Monster Energy will be visible for its debut as title sponsor.
A new era dawns in NASCAR this week after a tight offseason getting prepped for Monster Energy’s arrival as title sponsor, and Monster’s Mitch Covington says his company is ready.

The California-based energy drink company became title sponsor in December, leaving the company and NASCAR with only two and a half months to get ready. But Monster will start its deal at Sunday’s Daytona 500, where it will host about 200 corporate guests and VIPs, which is what the company had initially targeted.

Reflecting last week on the whirlwind offseason, Covington admitted the title sponsorship will be the most logistically daunting program he’s worked on at Monster.

“It is a huge undertaking from the depth of the schedule, with about 40 weeks — week in, week out — and I’m sure we’ll ride the learning curve like everybody else,” said Covington, Monster’s vice president of sports marketing. “We’ll probably tweak the system and make adjustments as we see fit from week to week.”

Covington said that at Daytona, Monster will have a 200-by-200-foot display featuring models, music and product sampling. He added that the company will “be sampling in the fanzone every week; it was one of the major entitlements we got in the deal.” Monster has previously said it expects to bring at least a dozen of its Monster girls to races, as the models play into the three pillars of the brand: girls, music and racing.

Monster is bringing a celebrity to Sunday’s race, though Covington declined to name the person. Covington added that Monster will have a presence at corporate gatherings and parties around Daytona, and may have a party of its own Saturday night.

As for TV advertising, Covington said in December that Monster was open to exploring 30-second ads, which it has not done in the past. However, while he continues to refuse to rule anything out, he now concedes that for its media buy, “we do want to bring some unique content, as opposed to just 30-second spots.”

Covington said talks with Fox about its half of the season continue, keeping the company’s final activation spend unclear. But Monster will have some advertising up and running for the 500.

Covington said Monster will focus its activation around its core drink in the black can, which is simply called Monster Energy, despite the brand having more than a dozen drinks. He declined to get into specifics about retail partners Monster will work with in NASCAR aside from noting that 7-Eleven will be involved and that the company “want[s] to do more business in the grocery channel.”

Monster will have a presence in victory lane that goes beyond signage, and the company wants to take many of its guests into victory lane each week.

Sources said that at the request of Fox, NASCAR considered adding podiums to victory lane this offseason that would have feted first, second and third place. However, NASCAR is likely holding off on adding them for now, sources said. Covington said he thinks podiums “would be great,” and would like to see them added.

Monster had originally planned to handle its major NASCAR investment almost exclusively in house, which raised eyebrows around the industry considering the size of the effort. Monster still largely plans to do so, though it has offloaded some work along the way. In addition to Hirschfeld Marketing Solutions, which will continue to handle Monster’s at-track hospitality assets as it has done in recent years, Monster recently hired North Carolina-based Suggs Sports Marketing to handle its victory lane duties.