NASCAR proving a buyer’s market for sponsors-Jon Flack, JMI

February 10, 2012

By Jon Flack, JMI President and COO

With the 2012 NASCAR season fast approaching, it’s a fitting time to probe the sport from a business perspective. As my colleague Zak Brown pointed out in our last column, it’s been an interesting time for NASCAR’s economic climate with sponsorship deals, such as Red Bull’s involvement in the sport, coming to an end.

Prior to the recession, the rate card across NASCAR, ranging from league to teams to tracks, had reached a record high.

This was demonstrated when the likes of Insurance provider Aflac entered into a $25m+ partnership with Roush-Fenway Racing and Carl Edwards.

We are continuing to see a re-calibration in NASCAR as brands such as UPS, Crown Royal, and Best Buy re-evaluate their marketing mix going forward.  Most sponsors continue to contemplate the right balance between rights fees and the necessary activation budget, to effectively bring to life their partnerships.  Fewer full season primary team sponsors exist today then we have seen previously, but it’s important to note that most sponsors have kept an association with NASCAR though other avenues.

It’s now become a far more complex process with teams having to manage multiple sponsors who individually might have struck deals for a handful of races throughout a lengthy season.

Properties are more flexible while shifting some assets to maintain maximum value back to their sponsors.

Options like this were not always possible or available in NASCAR, but its hand has been pushed to be more versatile and creative.

In fact, it would be fair to say currently the market favours the sponsor; it has become a ‘buyers market’. With price points down, a lower barrier to entry means brands can get into the sport with established names for great value.

This is something we are reiterating in conversations with CMOs; that there is plenty of inventory and high quality drivers to associate themselves with.

The future of the sport looks extremely positive off the back of strong TV viewings for last season’s dramatic Sprint Cup where the affable Tony Stewart took home the title in the very last race, ending the long dominance of Jimmie Johnson. Notably there were significant gains with a younger TV audience demographic.

It still maintains some of the largest single-day events on the schedule in any sport, solidifying its position as the USA’s second most watched sport behind the NFL.

Another positive has to be shown in the confidence of Sprint, a telecommunications company, to extend its series title sponsorship with NASCAR, providing further stability.

It would be naive to think the recession is not a concern for NASCAR, a sport so reliant on brand support. But its continued relevance in the marketplace with consumers provides brands with a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.


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, Unilever, 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.!/jmiteam

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