|Sponsors Understand the Tragic Risk in Motorsport- Zak Brown|
By Zak Brown, Founder and CEO, JMI
Over the last month the motorsports community has been left shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of two hugely talented friends. Dan Wheldon was a true IndyCar champion and one of Britain’s most successful drivers who overcame the odds to win in spectacular fashion in this year’s Indy 500. Marco Simoncelli was one of the youngest, and arguably, most exciting and vibrant riders that MotoGP has seen in years. Both these hugely talented men leave behind family, friends, colleagues and fans who took huge pleasure from their achievements.
So what impact do these events have on motorsports in general? Although one week apart, these accidents were of course unrelated – they occurred in entirely different forms of the sport, on other sides of the world, and were very different in nature. The unfortunate reality is that this is a sport where risk is ever-present – albeit, thankfully, manifestly reduced from previous levels due to an incessant drive by governing bodies, participants and the industry at large to increase safety in every area.
The infrequency of fatalities in motorsports, due to huge safety and technological advances, means on the rare occasion they occur it leaves us stunned. History tells us incidents like these accelerate the safety agenda as we saw in the aftermath of Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR and Ayrton Senna in Formula One.
Fans, like all of us, want to see great racing by the best exponents of the art and I don’t think events such as these, tragic though they are, deter sponsors. Like all others involved in motorsports, they enter the sport aware of the same risks and ultimately prepare for these eventualities. The key outcome is that the sport continues to take every opportunity to learn new ways to improve itself and safety is no exception.
F1 comes to the East Coast
On a happier note American motorsports and F1 received a timely boost regarding the confirmation of plans for New Jersey to play host to F1 in 2013. On the commercial front this would be the uplift the sport’s profile in North America needs and a street race, with the stunning Manhattan scenery as a backdrop, can do just that.
It will make the sport more relevant to this key geography as it taps into the cosmopolitan East Coast market. Moreover, the global appeal of this iconic destination has already generated a real buzz for everyone involved in the sport. As we have seen with Singapore, the street race format is proving to be an efficient and economical way to host a Grand Prix.
Danica’s presence good news for NASCAR
From a NASCAR perspective it’s been an interesting year with many sponsorship deals coming up for renewal.
The budgets available for brands might not be what they were pre-downturn but companies are still staying in the sport, just on a lower scale. This illustrates the intrinsic power and appeal it possesses for sponsors who want to stay associated at some level even in tough times. It’s also been helped by a fantastic end to the current season with Tony Stewart just pipping Carl Edwards for the Sprint Cup title at this weekend’s final race in Florida.
With NASCAR’s TV figures for 2011 healthy I’m excited for next year – especially with Danica Patrick’s full-time switch to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Her presence will put the spotlight firmly on NASCAR, boost TV viewership and potentially bring in a fan demographic.
The way the sport responds to the growing Hispanic demographic imperative in the U.S. will be an interesting feature of 2013 and NASCAR, like many of the major league sports properties in North America, is already recognising the importance of this factor. Beyond NASCAR, I expect to see this as a strong theme of F1’s revival Stateside.
JMI (Just Marketing International) is the global leader in motorsports marketing. JMI leverages its insider knowledge, influence and relationships to deliver creative customized solutions to organizations that seek a differentiator through motorsports sponsorship to drive their business.
JMI is an independent, full-service agency representing corporations in all forms of motorsports worldwide. JMI operates from six offices around the globe and manages more than $300 million in annual motorsports investments.
JMI's client list comprises leading corporations and brands including Boehringer Ingelheim, Castrol, Crown Royal, DIRECTV, Farmers Insurance, FXDD, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnnie Walker, LG Electronics, UBS, IBM, SUBWAY® Restaurants, UPS and Verizon Wireless.
JMI's clients participate in all major motorsports series including NASCAR, Formula 1, IZOD IndyCar Series, The World Rally Championship, GRAND-AM, NHRA, FIA GT1 World Championship, and the American Le Mans Series.
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