Has anyone noticed the decreased television advertising from Anheuser-Bush, Miller and Coors during NASCAR Sprint Cup race telecasts? Following the split of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt Inc.; Anheuser-Bush has apparently rapidly diminished their dominate presence over our weekly telecasts. In my opinion, this is the procuring cause to Miller and Coors’ also reducing their media placements during NASCAR broadcasts. While I don’t have the numbers to backup my observations, nonetheless, I think the anecdotal evidence is enough to question the “Dale Jr” effect on the return-on-investment (ROI) of the NASCAR television contract for Fox, NBC, TNT and ABC/ESPN.
So I question, is their enough of a demand to offset the loss of beer ads? If so, I certainly would be surprised if that demand will withstand the current economic pressure. But for sure, no one expected the self-interested actions of Teresa Earnhardt to have such a negative impact and affect so many other parts of the NASCAR food chain. It seems apparent that you can add the broadcasters to the list of people and companies that are keeping their distance from Teresa Earnhardt.
Earlier this week, ESPN expanded its motorsports digital content business through the acquisition of Racing-Live.com. Racing-Live.com covers Formula 1 (F1-Live.com), Moto GP; Superbike (Moto-Live.com), Rally (Rally-Live.com), off road Rallies (Raid-Live.com), Endurance Sports-Cars and Kart racing.
This announcement follows the acquisition of Jayski, a NASCAR gossip site in 2007. Racing-Live.com strengthens ESPN’s global business and provides a digital avenue to monetize Formula 1 racing through the site’s three million unique users per month.
I’m delighted that ESPN now offers sports fans world-class online coverage of football, rugby, cricket and motor racing, said Lynne Frank, Managing Director of ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Racing-Live.com is a leader in its category and has built a solid base from which to further develop our digital motor sports offering. We are particularly pleased that Racing-Live.com joins ESPN in the middle of another fantastic Formula 1 season.
It is going to be interesting to observe how ESPN integrates Racing-Live into its portfolio of digital media businesses; given Racing-Live isn’t the first digital media acquisition made by ESPN. Since the acquisition of Jayski in 2007, very little has changed and even its website has remained almost identical since its inception in 1996. The business model of Jayski is very different than traditional media sites and focuses primarily on unofficial team generated content – basically translated; employees’ of race teams share gossip, rumors, opinions and often lies about their employers and/or competitors. This model has created a very sticky site and thus was a procuring reason for ESPN acquiring Jayski.
Some may wonder if the Jayski model would be successful in Formula 1. I seriously doubt it and this is why: NASCAR is a unique culture with the rumor mill driven primarily by the close physical proximity of all the race teams. Speaking from personal experience; if I had lunch with a driver from another team – it would instantly be posted to Jayski …”hearing XYZ driver may be headed to Bang Racing.” While there is an element of truth to the “gossip”- it is usually twisted with an element of fiction.
Because the culture of NASCAR Sprint Cup is clearly trending more towards Formula 1 than vice-a-versa; and with the super teams becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on vendors to support the sponsorship development process; it is likely that Jayski’s sources will be minimized at best and rumors and the like will become less prevalent.
With that said; don’t expect to see ESPN exporting the Jayski business model over the pond; but maybe expect to see Racing-Live expanding into mainstream American motorsports.
Today marks the 4th anniversary of Toyota’s first NASCAR Victory during the Line-x 200 at Michigan International Speedway — (July 31, 2004). It was the 13th race for Toyota and my race team (Bang Racing). That historic day in NASCAR; also became a day I will not soon forget. Toyota and I made NASCAR history; setting records and I became more than just the youngest team owner in history — but now a victorious team owner at just 24 years of age.
It had been a turbulent few weeks leading up to this incredible day. Perhaps; in some ways, this made the win ever sweeter. I had recently made significant personnel changes to improve our racing operations and team chemistry; wanting to provide a better chance to score our first victory. Our two race teams entered Michigan International Speedway with a renewed confidence and attitude following the departure of Larry McReynolds from Bang Racing and we expected to demonstrate our team’s unity and potential at the Line-X 200, a race event sponsored by Line-X Spray-On Bedliners, one of our team’s primary sponsors.
We didn’t disappoint our sponsors or racing fans that day; our trucks combined to dominate the entire event finishing 1st and 3rd and bringing Toyota a victory in the backyard of the Big 3 American Carmakers. Much was noted in the press about this precocious internet whiz kid who came out of nowhere to lead Toyota’s flagship racing team and become the youngest NASCAR team owner; and then, breaking numerous NASCAR records and going on to make history as the most successful first year race team. It was a tremendous achievement for our new team; and an honor to herald the banner for Toyota in their inaugural year in NASCAR. But equally rewarding was having a childhood dream become a reality.
This dramatic victory has paved the way for today’s on-track performance of Toyota’s flagship NASCAR teams. But Bang Racing will always remain in the NASCAR and Toyota motorsports history books — as the team which brought Toyota their first victory in NASCAR. Without a doubt, this victorious day was etched in the hearts of many and will not be soon forgotten.
Alex Meshkin and Bang Racing Make History — Toyota’s First Win in NASCAR
Everything that could be said has been said – the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was a total disaster and a complete disgrace for the entire NASCAR community. The most troubling aspect with the tire debacle was simply – the problem was easily avoidable. Goodyear saw the problem firsthand when it tested in April. The drivers saw it. And ultimately NASCAR refused to prevent this foreseeable tragedy. If Goodyear and NASCAR do not confront potential disasters and make proper plans to accommodate the problems, then NASCAR has a huge obstacle moving forward.
Without a doubt this was the most pathetic race I have ever seen; and with the economy in turmoil, this may be the straw that breaks many NASCAR Racing Teams’ backs.
The only redeeming result of the miserable race on Sunday – was NASCAR finally accepted responsibility for the actions or lack thereof. Earlier this week, Robin Pemberton Vice President of Competition of NASCAR released the following statement:
I can’t say enough how sorry we are and it’s our responsibility being NASCAR that we don’t go through this situation again, said Robin Pemberton, Vice President of Competition. The race didn’t come off like we had hoped, the fans didn’t get what they exactly wanted and we’ll do everything in our power – it won’t happen again, I can tell you that much.
Now that NASCAR has accepted responsibility, they should at least compensate the teams for the extreme cost for the extra tires; and at best refund the ticket costs to the 200,000 fans who witnessed this “race” on Sunday.
In my posting NASCAR Sponsorship 2.0, I previously discussed how teams have a real opportunity to leverage their “content” through digital channels creating supplemental advertising revenue to offset their losses in traditional on-the-car sponsorship. Some may ask, is there really an opportunity in digital advertising for NASCAR teams? A recent report from eMarketer, projects online advertising for sports sites will double from 2008 to 2012 – to $2 billion.
The sports site online advertising market is mostly untapped by NASCAR and remains a huge opportunity for race teams to tap into and ensure their continued viability in these difficult economic times.
While the most dedicated NASCAR fans are not your typical early adopters of online services; there still remains a tremendous opportunity to harness the power of the loyal demographic who embraces the internet as a regular source of news and entertainment. According to Quantcast, NASCAR.com generates approximately 3.7 M monthly unique users and peaks at over 6.5 M during the beginning of the season. So while the audience may be limited in numbers, the unmatched advertiser loyalty provides a desirable market opportunity to distribute content directly to fans through digital channels for racing teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway and Joe Gibbs Racing. Unlike the franchised sports teams of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB; NASCAR Teams have complete autonomy of their online presence and content. This provides a significant value proposition where teams can leverage their content through a variety of online business models to create interaction with fans and ultimately new sources of advertising revenue. This would likely result in considerable exposure for their existing sponsors; and consequently create a new advertising inventory that would be measurable and provide a clear Return on Investment (ROI).
As a former NASCAR Team Owner, Sports Marketer and Digital Media Entrepreneur; I have succeeded in bringing new sponsors such as eBay and Toyota into NASCAR, and leveraged online advertising to unlock revenue sources from digital channels that created a history making NASCAR racing team. The potential has never been greater and the most successful teams have the largest market opportunity to generate significant value that can be monetized in the digital economy.
Rumors are swirling that Jamie McMurray, currently the driver of Roush Fenway Racing’s #26 Crown Royal/Irwin Tools Ford, will be the driver of Richard Childress Racing’s 4th team, to be sponsored by Cheerios/General Mills.
Could this be a sign that Roush Fenway Racing is unable to secure a replacement sponsor for the American Automotive Association (AAA); and perhaps plans to accelerate its mandatory downsizing one year earlier?
On the other hand, it’s no secret that both Jamie McMurray and Jack Roush are extremely disappointed by their performances and both would welcome a change. However, with the enhanced marketing competition from Stewart Haas Racing, it’s unlikely that Roush Fenway will find a suitable replacement for the AAA and will be forced to move David Regan into the Crown Royal/Irwin Tools Ford.
As NASCAR Silly Season comes to a peak at the end of August, expect more announcements on the future plans of Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray.
On Friday, Wired published an article titled – The Car of Tomorrow Has an Extension Cord – a discussion of the future plug-in hybrids coming soon to your local car dealer showroom. This discussion further demonstrates the continued divide between NASCAR and all automakers.
The founding principle and most basic concept behind NASCAR was and is “stock car” racing; and the ability for carmakers to demonstrate their performance of a car that closely models a car in the local showroom. This principle is no longer applied in NASCAR and is one of the basic problems existing for carmakers today in justifying their marketing expenditures in NASCAR.
“Stock car” doesn’t mean “old” or antiquated but means the use of current technologies which are closely tied to their street car equivalents. The age old adage of “Win on Sunday and Buy on Monday” is no longer applicable in NASCAR – and is contributing to the eroding sales of the Big 3. Furthermore, the COT is alienating carmakers by further dividing marketing objectives of the carmakers and the value proposition of NASCAR.
The future of carmakers exists in plug-in hybrids – the combination of battery power and biofuels. According to Wired; it all starts in 2010. General Motors (GM) promises to have the Chevrolet Volt rolling into showrooms by then. Toyota says it will roll out a small fleet of plug-in Prius hybrids to see how they do. Volkswagen has similar plans for its plug-in Golf. And Fisker Automotive hopes to have a few dozen pricey Karma sedans in driveways within 18 months. Ford and others are moving more slowly, aiming for 2012 and beyond.
It may surprise some to learn that widespread adoption of plug-in hybrids isn’t in the distant future and may be in consideration for your next car. According to Mike Omotoso of J.D. Power & Associates “…we could see critical mass by 2015.”
NASCAR has a real opportunity for leadership – and can provide automotive manufacturers a real marketing platform that demonstrates alternative energy as performance cars – that are viable, affordable and energy efficient – and return NASCAR to its roots as “stock car” racing at its best.
When I reflect back to 2004, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was on top of the world. This resulted in part from unprecedented levels of financial commitments from the Big 3 American automotive manufacturers and the grand entrance of Toyota into NASCAR. Because GM, Ford and Dodge made every effort to fend off Toyota Motorsports’ success during their inaugural year in NASCAR, balanced competition was created – and resulted in one of the most competitive racing series in the world. Furthermore, the Truck Series received a tremendous amount of public interest, record viewership, attendance and possibly the most important factor of all – awareness in the mainstream media.
As many of you know, I owned Bang Racing and led Toyota Motorsports’ racing team to a victorious year achieving record results for a newcomer to the series and sport. We won our first race in our 13th attempt – and consequently fueled our continuous mainstream media exposure. I was the first NASCAR Team Owner ever to appear live of the Fox News Channel and received international attention which created a cycle of vital media interest to fuel sponsorship demand and ROI for all of the Truck Series teams.
However, the Truck Series is a different animal today. Over the course of the last few years a lack of interest and dwindling financial support from the Big 3 – has morphed the series into nothing more than Toyota versus the independents. This one-sided competition is apparent in the absence from corporate sponsors and the lack of interest from the mainstream media.
Last year, Craftsman announced their leaving the series as the title sponsor. This is clear indication of the limitations the Truck Series has as a marketing platform. In contrast, back in 2003, as the owner of Bang Racing, I had both Craftsman and Snap-On Tools competing against each other to become the Official Tools of Bang Racing and a Major Associate sponsor of my team. And now -both have vastly reduced their involvement in the Truck Series altogether.
I speak from personal experience. Looking back to 2004, the marketing appeal of the Truck Series for corporate sponsors was rather limited. Today without the financial assistance of the Big 3 and practically little hope for its return; combined and with the rising costs of fuel and decreased consumers’ demand for light trucks and SUVs – NASCAR can’t hang the hopes of the Series on the unlikely event of another Japanese automotive manufacturer saving the Truck Series from its untimely demise. NASCAR must make significant changes to the scheduling, promotion and positioning of the Truck Series if they intend to secure the long-term viability of the Series.
Over the past few years corporate marketing and advertising budgets have made a dramatic shift from Old Media towards New Media, which provides measurable customer acquisition with a recognizable ROI. Today, current NASCAR Sponsorship programs are structured much like Old Media, which fails to present corporate marketers with the value presented through “new media” channels. Now there are some who will say – sports marketing isn’t Old Media or New Media but Sports Media. While Sports Media does present a unique value proposition – at the end of the day, it does not provide corporate marketers a measurable customer acquisition medium -making it very similar to Old Media.
When specifically analyzing NASCAR as a marketing platform it’s undisputed that it provides unparallel consumer brand loyalty for sponsors; however “die-hard” fans, which are the most brand loyal – are unfortunately also a dying breed. As our country continues to face high inflation and a challenging economy for the middle-class, which is the loyal mainstay of the NASCAR demographic; it will become a less attractive marketing medium to corporate marketers.
Across the country, many businesses are attempting to adapt to this challenging economic market. Over the past number of months, the newspaper industry has announced wide scale layoffs as they attempt to transition their business to more online operations. The latest causality is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that announced cuts to its work force by approximately 8 percent or 189 jobs. NASCAR is not alone; and needs to take heed and understand that it is no different than t the challenged models of the newspaper and Old Media industries – which also offer a branding and awareness platform with no real method to measure customer acquisition for its advertisers. Old Media is in a state of peril; and NASCAR and its teams must not make the fatal mistake of assuming they are immune to the fragile economy. Now is the time for them to reinvent themselves or they will face a similar dreadful business fate for their sponsorship prospects.
As a lifelong fan, former team owner and new media entrepreneur – I see numerous avenues to upgrade NASCAR from its current “1.0” platform to a “2.0” marketing approach; and leverage digital media technologies and social marketing techniques to provide unparallel fan interaction and advertiser ROI.
Back in 2003, in conjunction with the launch of my team Bang Racing with Toyota Motorsports, I developed a marketing platform and corresponding online venture to engage consumers and enable advertisers to target fans with online promotions and incentives. We successfully deployed a “points” based auction powered by eBay (a Bang Racing sponsor) and delivered unmatched ROI to our sponsors.
Today there exists technologies, which if employed could provide NASCAR and teams with a solution. Available web 2.0 architecture and social marketing techniques would enable NASCAR, teams and sponsors to leverage existing technology and increase their exposure, interaction and ultimately the sponsors’ ROI.
The most basic web 2.0 technologies, which have transformed online marketing, journalism and even politics, are “blogs”. They are free and easy to use but yet, not a single driver, team or even NASCAR has implemented one. This most basic concept is far beyond the understanding of most NASCAR insiders and demonstrates the antiquated approach to marketing.
NASCAR racing is entertainment and content; and while NASCAR Corporate controls the “content” at the racetrack; and teams are unable to successfully monetize their at-track presence – racing teams do have the ability to monetize their “content” away from the track – if they employ these new technologies. “RaceWorld”, which was a failed attempt by Michael Waltrip to engage fans in a physical structure, further demonstrates a lack of current business and technology savvy of NASCAR teams. Today, teams must embrace and engage fans through technology and the internet rather than expensive and traditional channels. A great case study is the success of online video – which is dominated by user-generated content – not by television networks or studios – this is the genius of the success of YouTube.
NASCAR teams, such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing could offset the devastating effects of projected manufacturer financial support losses and a difficult sponsorship market by simply distributing content through a variety of successful online businesses, which would increase advertisers’/sponsor’ impressions; while providing new revenue sources.
Through the use of live online streaming, micro-blogging, social networking and other web 2.0 concepts – NASCAR Corporate, racing teams and motorsports sponsors have the ability to receive an ROI capable of sustaining the growing costs of the sport. What are they waiting for – the race is on – and time is running out!
According to the Associated Press (AP) today, General Motors officially announced their first round of motorsports spending cuts. Troubled General Motors has notified two racetracks that operate NASCAR events that their current contracts will not be renewed as part of an overall $10 billion cost-cutting program.
Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns eight tracks that hold NASCAR events, already has been told GM will not renew contracts at two tracks — New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.
Scott Cooper, vice president of communications for SMI, said nobody is panicking.
We’ve seen bad times with the economy before, and we’ll likely see them again, Cooper said Wednesday. At the end of the day, we’ve still got a sport that pairs up well with the American car manufacturers. We believe the sport will continue to have tight relations with those manufacturers.
Read the whole article at ap.google.com