Sponsors keep NASCAR wheels spinning for fansWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What exactly are the cogs that make NASCAR run? Dedicated mechanics, intuitive crew chiefs, nimble pit crews and ballsy drivers are all part of the well-oiled machine that hugs the turns and puts the pedal to the metal of this elaborate metaphor. And when a driver wins, they thank all those people. They also thank the sponsors.
It must be tough to remember all the major decals on one’s car, yet the rightful owner of the checkered flag will recite, in proper order, the corporations that helped make their work possible.
Are the sponsorships effective? Perhaps. As a consumer, I’m fairly certain that were it not for Dale Earnhardt, I may never have heard of Goodwrench. The same goes for Jeff Gordon and DuPont, whatever it is that they do. And anytime I see Tide, I can’t help but wonder if Ricky Rudd has a closet in his house that contains nothing but boxes upon boxes of laundry detergent.
But sponsorships can do more. You might have seen some baseball parks that have ads on the walls near left-center and right-center by Gap, which just may be the most brilliant placement in sports marketing history. Coming in second place is 7-Eleven, which will occasionally sponsor White Sox games by moving the start time from 7:05 p.m. to 7:11 p.m.
NASCAR, however, could learn a few things. Indeed, they saturate the car, the suits and even the name of the race with sponsors. This year, the August race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is the CARFAX 400, which has been known better as, since 1975, the Champion 400, the Goodwrench 400, the DeVilbiss 400, the Pepsi 400 Presented by DeVilbiss, the Pepsi 400 Presented by Meijer, the Pepsi 400 Presented by Farmer Jack, the GFS Marketplace 400, the 3M Performance 400 and the 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo. I am not making a single one of those up, and I had no idea Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman had enough money to sponsor a race at MIS.
Clearly, there are some better ways to permeate sponsors during a race that will shine through the rest of the cluttered corporate logos.
Let’s start with the flags. The checkered flag can be the Checkers Champ Burger Flag. The white flag will be the Aquafresh Teeth Whitening System Flag. The yellow flag can be the Clorox Color Safe Bleach Yellow Flag. The red flag can be the Department of Homeland Ready Advisory System Flag, which will turn orange if threat of rain decreases.
Now, look at the track itself. There’s a lot of unadulterated pavement that could hold logos, but the start/finish line is where the real money is. The checkered start/finish line be renamed the Verizon Wireless Family Plan Add-A-Start/Finish Line. The SAFER barriers are fantastic places for car insurance logos. And every other wall adorned with nothing but the name of the track can have, why, Wal-Mart, of course.
And would it kill the people in charge of tending to the infield grass to shave some logos into the lawn? A simple Nike swoosh is all I need.
Sponsors aren’t evil. They may look tacky, as if the drivers are straight out of the movie “Idiocracy,” but when you can’t go a split-second without seeing advertising on the TV, perhaps innovation could beat proliferation. And if all these plans are washed out by a rain delay, then get the suits from Aquafina on the phone and see if they want to work in a quick sponsorship.