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Volume 21 No. 10
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Joe Gibbs Racing studio allows organization, sponsors to create digital, social media content

Joe Gibbs Racing's studio is designed to mimic the race team’s shop floor.
Photo by: ADAM STERN / STAFF
Joe Gibbs Racing has settled into a new production studio at its headquarters near Charlotte, as the front-running NASCAR team says what was once just an idea has become a near necessity.

JGR built the 1,600-square-foot studio that will be geared toward digital and social media because of ever-increasing requests from sponsors and media outlets for content from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series organization.

Since the studio opened a few months ago, JGR has produced a variety of content there, including a video series shown on Facebook Watch, and plans to start recording a new podcast from the space this week.

JGR has a dedicated team of five employees who generate digital and social content, and it’s encouraging all of the team’s PR and account executives to think about content opportunities. The race team hosts weekly meetings devoted to social media planning, which falls under the direction of Bryan Cook, digital marketing director.

“It’s a good spot to be able to create more content, which is a big deal now,” JGR President Dave Alpern said. “It’s one thing to produce content at the racetrack, but when you’re producing content during the week, it just gives us the ability where now we don’t have to disrupt workflow or move things around down in the shop while they’re trying to prepare for a race.”

Alpern declined to disclose the cost of the studio, which was built into an existing room in the corner of the team’s merchandise shop. But he said it was negligible because JGR essentially just retrofitted the room, moved in equipment like tools and a show car, and covered an entryway to provide a suitable backdrop for shoots.

Sponsor FedEx used the space for a video to reveal its FedEx Cares paint scheme.
“[Comparing] price per square foot versus what it will deliver, there’s probably not a more valuable room in the shop,” Alpern said.

The space resembles JGR’s actual team shop, with pennants from past wins painted on the wall, and one side that’s filled with equipment such as Goodyear tires and tool kits. The other side looks more like a studio where a talk show could be taped.

Sponsor FedEx used the space in July to reveal its special philanthropic FedEx Cares paint scheme. The video, which was distributed on Facebook, looks like it was shot on JGR’s shop floor, but it was actually shot in the studio.

JGR plans to record — both through audio and video — a new podcast at the studio hosted by driver Daniel Suarez, who is in his rookie season in the Monster Energy Series. JGR has also been shooting episodes of its new “Joe Gibbs Racing on the Job” series on Facebook Watch, where the team highlights the stories of surprising or interesting positions among its 600 employees.

It is targeting 15 episodes of the series each season along with supporting content such as blooper reels. JGR’s sponsors can get involved in the five- to seven-minute episodes. One episode under production, for example, shows a tire changer using DeWalt tools.

As stakeholders in the sport deal with business metric declines in recent years, Alpern said he wouldn’t be surprised if other teams follow suit and build studios of their own to deliver more nontraditional value to sponsors.

Fellow NASCAR front-runner Hendrick Motorsports has a social media command center and a separate production studio, with two-full time video producers on staff.