Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NASCAR Marketing in 2007

According to a recent article released in AdAge, "After an unrelenting six-year streak in which it lapped all other professional sports except football in popularity and TV viewers.. [NASCAR saw an] average TV ratings for the 10 final races of the season, dubbed the 'Chase for the Cup,' dropped 10% from 4.8 to 4.3, and some 31 of the 36 races drew lower TV ratings this year than in 2005."

NASCAR has been a marketing machine over the last decade. Fans and selected media were up in arms about the 'Chase for the Cup' format and it provided millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue, a new television contracts and more fans. The sport recently signed an eight-year, $4.48 billion TV deal with ABC/ESPN -- some 40% higher than the previous agreement with NBC and Fox. The question is, what does the sport need to do now:

· Shorten the season. I know race track owners, businesses around the race track, sponsors, etc, might be horrified with this idea, but the sport has reached it saturation point. Fans get bored of seeing the races week after week. There needs to be more down time some they are counting the days to the next race throughout the year.
· Lower the prices for races. It costs hundreds of dollars for a family to go to a race, park, buy food and purchase souvenirs. I know it costs a lot of money to run an event, but changes need to be made.
· Continue to work with the smaller teams to make them competitive. In any sport, there are going to be small-market teams. Fans will support the underdog who makes a run at the Cup and that can generate additional media interest.
· Make sure to market the new international drivers signed on to compete next year. Hopefully NASCAR’s PR department won’t saturate the media with interviews, but will work with sponsors and high-level reporters to generate interest in the 2007 season.
· Continue to reconnect with your "old timers." A bet a lot of NASCAR fans think the sport is too commercialized. Find ways to promote the benefits of the sport to show fans that the commercialization will help the sport grow. People on the inside understand the benefits, but some people need to be hit over the head.

While I am not a huge fan of NASCAR, I definitely admire the sport in how it’s marketing itself in the 21st century. Every sport has a downturn once in awhile. NASCAR will be able to handle this bump in the road pretty easily.


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