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Volume 21 No. 17
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Fox brings back ‘Daytona Day’

Fox Sports’ “Daytona Day” marketing campaign is coming back for a third year because it’s working, said Robert Gottlieb, Fox Sports executive vice president of marketing.


Fox introduced the campaign in 2016 to posit to casual and non-fans that the NASCAR season-opening 500 doubles as a social gathering for fans and occasional observers alike. Fox has started to roll out elements of the 2018 campaign in recent weeks.


The move to bring back the campaign has not been entirely well-received on Twitter, where some fans, influential media members and drivers have criticized it, saying the spots focus too much on scenes from contrived “Daytona Day” parties and not enough on actual racing. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted about one highlight-filled spot he actually liked because it wasn’t “that Daytona Day bullshit.”


Gottlieb said that a Fox-commissioned Nielsen study after the 2017 campaign showed that the effort delivered, with 49 percent of last year’s Daytona 500 audience composed of casual or non-fans.


“The Nielsen research was very interesting and very clearly indicated that we made strong gains in the casuals and non-fans in terms of viewership for Daytona last year and that we had seen good gains in millennial viewers and co-viewing,” Gottlieb said. 


Despite criticism from fans and drivers, Fox is keeping “Daytona Day” in the mix for its season-opening NASCAR promos.

Fox earned a 6.6 rating and 11.92 million viewers for last year’s race, flat in ratings and up 5 percent in viewership from 2016.


Gottlieb said criticism over the campaign from hardcore NASCAR types shows the passion behind the sport.


“Inevitably, when you have to speak to a broader audience than the core, there’s always going to be a segment of core fans who feel like, ‘Here’s what I love about the sport; I want you to talk about what I love about the sport,’” he said. “Of course, as a broad-based marketer, sometimes you have to find other reasons for people who don’t inherently love the sport, you have to invite them in a little bit, and if that creates some tension among the core, that’s kind of inevitable to a degree.”


About a half-dozen spots will be released by Fox Sports leading up to the Daytona 500, some of which will be rotated on 21st Century Fox’s various networks while others will only be on digital and social media. About five spots will be geared toward avids, including one that’s filled with highlights, and several others that see drivers talking about what’s special for them about the 500. The “Daytona Day” spots for casual or non-fans include “Holiday,” which debuted during the NFL playoffs and has a narrator talking about why the day of the 500 deserves to be a holiday. A forthcoming spot will feature celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay talking about special food dishes to make on race day.


Other elements of the campaign include cross promotion with corporate partners in the sport, and working with Comcast and House Party Inc. to organize 250 Daytona Day house parties in key markets nationwide.


Fox worked with Wieden & Kennedy, New York, on this year’s campaign, after working with Pereira & O’Dell and director Joseph Kahn on last year’s creative.


The race falls this season during Presidents Day weekend on Feb. 18, a week earlier than last year. Gottlieb is hopeful that the holiday weekend will help boost viewership.