The Frontstretch: Dollars And Sense: Dissecting NASCAR's Behind The Scenes Hirings And Firings by Jesse Medford -- Thursday July 5, 2012

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This year NASCAR has announced they will take over business and editorial control of their own interactive, digital and social media rights, including technical operations and infrastructure of and all other NASCAR digital platforms, as of January 1, 2013., and the sport’s other digital and social media platforms, have been managed by Turner Sports since 2001. In this recent change, NASCAR and Turner Sports have restructured their partnership through 2016, with Turner Sports relinquishing much of the control of the rights.

The control NASCAR handed over to Turner Sports more than a decade ago is something they have been regretting, as the digital world has been passing NASCAR by in recent years. The potential profit they could incur as this contract ends could prove to be a windfall, for this sport with fans that are embracing technology at a pace arguably faster than any other.

As NASCAR plays catch up, they have in the last month begun collaborations with Twitter and Hewlett Packard. These partnerships are designed to help the sport better serve the industry, essentially taking more control of what is being disseminated amongst several social media outlets. The Twitter #NASCAR hashtag debut was during the June race at Pocono Raceway, while the Fan and Media Engagement Center partnered with HP is due to roll out in October at the NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte.

“Social media has forever changed the sporting world and how fans interact,” said Rob Vatter, vice president, communications, media and entertainment industry, HP Enterprise Services. “HP’s broad social business and analytics portfolios and industry consulting services will enable NASCAR to continue to deliver innovative fan-engagement opportunities for its sponsors – while also delivering the fan experience it has become known for.”

In the past week, NASCAR announced SapientNitro will design and build its new digital platform, including In addition to working with NASCAR, SapientNitro also does work for the WWE and Miami Heat forward LeBron James.

“NASCAR appreciates that its target consumers are increasingly digitally centered, and sees a real strategic opportunity to evolve in a more connected fan experience – before, during and after events,” said Matthew Huser, group account director, SapientNitro. “The proliferation of digital presents more compelling opportunities for NASCAR to attract and engage with their consumers.”

Recently NASCAR also announced that they are seeking a new advertising agency to replace Jump Co., their agency since 2005. Last month extremely busy for the sanctioning body with changing titles of executives and adding new personnel to NASCAR and their new digital and marketing platforms.

Jay Abraham is out, as NASCAR Media Group Productions is no more. Steve Herbst is now Vice President, broadcasting and production. Steve Stum has been promoted to Vice President of Operations and Technical Production. Tally Hair has become managing director of production and programming, while Seth Bacon has been promoted to senior director of broadcasting.

The new digital media platform brings in David Murnick, managing director, ad services; Philippe Dore, Senior Director, Digital Services; Tim Clark, Director, Optimization; David Garlinski, Director, Mobile Products; and Stu Hothem, Director, Content.

“As our marketing communications and media relations needs evolve, NASCAR is committed to enhancing the Integrated Marketing Communications team through growth and adjustments in key areas,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Vice President and Chief Communications Officer.

Jon Schwartz has been promoted to Senior Director, Business and Brand Communications. Sabrina Macias is named Director, Brand and Consumer Marketing Communications and Chris Tropeano joins as Senior Manager, Business Communications for NASCAR’s New York Office.

Sean Doherty leaves Sprint to join as NASCAR’s Director, Digital & Content Communications. Tracey Judd moves to Director, Racing Operations Communications. Amanda Ellis will elevate to Judd’s previous role with the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Katey Hawbaker has been hired from Red Horse Racing to become Manager, Competition Communications.

Stephanie Ackerman is added as Manager, Stakeholder Communications. Ashley Mitchell comes in as Coordinator, Content Communications. John Farrell moves from licensing and publishing to IMC Content Communications. Stacey Houston comes along as a Marketing and Media Intern from Davidson College.

The NASCAR Charlotte offices aren’t finished there. The sanctioning body still has nine major positions to fill in these platforms:

Managing Director, Content Rights and Partnerships – NASCAR Digital Media
Senior Director, Content
Senior Director, Driver Services – NASCAR
Director, Content Distribution
Director, Digital & Social Media Communications
Director, Products Operations
Senior Manager, Market and Media Research – NASCAR
Senior Manager, Operations
Manager, Platform Operations

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07/05/2012 12:45 PM

Well, if Nascar is taking over does that mean their site will be as boring as most of their “races”?

07/05/2012 09:29 PM

Their first move, a long time ago, should have been to get rid of Brian.