The Frontstretch: Sponsorship Loyalty; How Bad Do We Have It, Really? by Cheryl Walker -- Monday August 15, 2005

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Sponsorship Loyalty; How Bad Do We Have It, Really?

Cheryl Walker · Monday August 15, 2005


If you are a NASCAR fan, then you have heard that while the NFL has more fans, NASCAR has more fans with brand loyalty.

In a sport where sponsors mean so much, that should not be a surprise to anyone. NASCAR fans know that it really does mean something when they choose a product that is an official sponsor of their driver, over one that is not. Further, if the product they’re buying is not something associated with their driver, they’ll look for something that says, "˜Official Sponsor of NASCAR’ (like Sunoco gasoline, for example). For fans that accomplish purchasing something that is a sponsor of their driver AND is an official sponsor of NASCAR, it is a double-whammy of satisfaction. Fans of other sports don’t have to try so hard or care so much about who makes the products they buy, or who benefits from the purchase.

From products that fans use, to the clothes that they wear, there are always opportunities to support a favorite driver. I know that at a Martinsville race that I attended a few years back, I was adorned with over $400 worth of merchandise that supported my driver, from my earrings to my shoelaces. (The only drawback to that scenario is if you happen upon a chance for an autograph from a driver with a fierce rivalry with yours. If NASCAR drivers had enough time to think about such things, imagine their feelings about signing something for someone who is an obvious fan of a fellow driver they can’t stand?)

I happen to follow a driver that has in the last couple of years switched a few sponsors, and even more recently, switched to a whole new make of car. Now the car I drive is "˜wrong’, but due to financial restraints, there isn’t much I can do about it at the moment. But I will purchase that Chevy the next chance that I get, and have been working on replacing all of the Ford ovals I have around my NASCAR memorabilia with Chevy bowties. And even if the new Ford Fusion is an eye-catcher, you will not catch me at a Ford dealer enquiring about one when I can afford to do so. Nope. I cannot do it. In the meantime, I have thought about making a bumper sticker for my Ford Contour that says something like, "Yeah, my driver now drives a Chevy. Gimme a chance to catch up, will ya?"

In this particularly silly silly season, I can only imagine how the fans of drivers who are rumored to be jumping ship must feel. How confident does a Bobby Labonte fan feel about buying a lime-green Interstate Batteries jacket these days, no matter how angrily Labonte denies the many rumors swirling about him? Should they really begin to choose Federal Express as their package delivery service over the others? And do the Kurt Busch fans continue to wear the Roush Racing colors and number, knowing that in the next while they need to support Penske Racing? Or do they need to create their own T-shirts at home on their computer that simply read, "I’m a Kurt Busch fan" or "Kurt Busch, 2004 Cup Champion"?

Of course, the diehard NASCAR fan will always muddle through these things, and do their very best to throw their support where their driver needs it the most.

Additionally, every NASCAR fan knows of another fan that has done everything but put a second-mortgage on their home to be able to purchase every diecast car, household product, and piece of apparel offered for their driver (but, suspiciously, not one of them believes themselves to be guilty of such folly).

Does anyone reading this have a good story about the lengths to which they or a friend of theirs has gone to support a favorite driver? I know that fans everywhere would love to read these stories, shake their heads, and say to themselves, "Yes it is crazy; but I understand it completely." If you do, please post away.

I must stop now, though. I have a bumper sticker I have to make.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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©2000 - 2008 Cheryl Walker and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

08/16/2005 10:43 AM
As a RACE fan, I also feel entitled to do the opposite. If a particular driver or sponsor does something I don’t like, I make sure NOT to purchase their product. Loyalty should run two ways, shouldn’t it?
Mad Mikie
08/16/2005 01:16 PM
Since King Brian came on the scene (all bow at the mere mention of his name), I do my best not to buy any products associated with any team. Some of them you don’t have a choice. I use my local hardware stores for my home improvement needs. After the tire fiasco with the SUV’s and what’s happening on the track, I don’t use the “official tires”. I don’t drive a car that’s being run in any of the series. There are no “official fuel of NASCAR” stations anywhere around here and if there were, I wouldn’t stop there. My fan gear is that of Dick Trickle. Dick’s not racing in NASCAR but I still think he’s the greatest. The recent events with Coors practicing age disrimination gave me another reason to avoid “official products”. Until King Brian is gone and it returns to being about racing and not marketing, I’ll keep avoiding “official products” and encourage others to do the same.
08/16/2005 02:23 PM
I only shop Home Depot, I wouldn’t be caught in a Lowes. A friend of mine who works at the Home Depot down the street was kicked out of Lowes while doing a job related bonafide price shop all because he still had his #20 ball cap still on. Even on the store level, some companies have issues with numbers….. even the numbers on ball caps


Cheryl is no longer a contributor to the Frotnstretch, having branched out on her own, starting CawsnJaws with her son Josh. If you'd like to see more of Cheryl's Frontstretch articles, check out her bio and archive page.