The Frontstretch: Sponsor's Integrity More Important Than Flagship Status by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday March 22, 2007

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Sponsor's Integrity More Important Than Flagship Status

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday March 22, 2007


I can't speak for the rest of the nation, but personally, I think all this nonsense between Nextel/AT &T and Sunoco/Shell is a bunch of bovine feces and belongs squarely in an edition of BSNews. Nothing turns me off more than arrogance, and that’s exactly the type of situation we’re facing here.

I understand that Nextel paid an insane amount to be the series sponsor. So what! Are they that insecure that a small quarter panel AT&T logo on the Cingular car threatens them? Have you seen the pictures (Courtesy : Jayski)? The logo wasn’t even on the hood of the car!

Does Nextel’s service suck so badly that Robby Gordon cannot be sponsored by the very company that makes the phones (Motorola) that the Nextel network itself uses? Where are the stupid executives and lawyers that drudge this crap up? I've got a spot reserved on a bus for all of them; destination, to be announced after boarding and the bus is FULL!

Sunoco’s situation with Shell is even worse. Yes, they bought the rights to be the "Exclusive Fuel Supplier" of NASCAR in 2004. Yes, they got a bonus from that in the form of their A Plus Convenience Stores becoming the "Official Convenience Store of NASCAR". Good for them. Now, all of a sudden, Shell is a threat after years of sponsoring race cars in their own right, and the ONLY reason why is because Kevin Harvick and his Shell-sponsored car won the Daytona 500 in thrilling fashion. Had any other car won the season's first race, you wouldn't have heard a peep out of Sunoco.

Why is Sunoco so worried? Do they think just because the pretty yellow Shell car got so much media attention, millions of people are going to run to the nearest Shell station and fill up? Wake up! People fill up at the most convenient and/or lowest priced location.

Why can't Sunoco be happy that they ARE the fuel supplier for NASCAR? They did, after all, beat out Shell back in 2003 for that honor, even though (according to the Shell website) over 75% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of a Shell branded station. Sunoco can't hold a candle to Shell when it comes to brand recognition out in the real world. The only reason folks west of Ohio even know of Sunoco is because of their deal with NASCAR. They should be proud of that instead of trying to be something they are not.

If executives at Sunoco had ANY brains at all, they would make a commercial stating something like… "At Daytona, even the winner was fueled by Sunoco!" Use the marketing tools to your advantage…not use the lawyers to take you to a courtroom.

Now, see, that commercial is clever and fans would like that. It would instantly negate any perceived bad publicity brought on by the Shell car and turn it around, not turn people off with a stupid, whining lawsuit or demands. That just makes your company look petty. And these big corporations pay these so called executives how much…and for what? Sheeeeesh! What a bunch of idiots.

As for me, and I hope a growing number of fans follow my lead… when big name sponsors pull stupid crap like this, I WILL NEVER use their service or product. I will never (not that I was going to anyway) have a Nextel phone plan. I will never buy gas at a Sunoco, or step foot in an A Plus Convenience Store.

And while I am at it, let me clue big business in on another little secret. Y'all paid NASCAR way too much to be the official anything. Only dumb, weak-willed people buy products because they are the "official" this or that. But wait, now that I look around, there ARE an awful lot of…oh well, "birds of a feather…" I guess…

Stay off the wall (and off the above mentioned bus!),

Jeff Meyer

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03/23/2007 06:22 AM

Why can’t The Brian figure out another way to sell the same real estate twice like he did with Victory Lane and the Winner’s Circle to Coke and Pepsi?

It seems The Brian is better at starting wars than starting races. After fifty, or so, years, The Big Book Of NA$CAR ought to be a good read for the courts —- and then the fans. Written in pencil, no doubt.

I wonder if NA$CAR would look good in red?
(Pencil or ink)

Just a thought but, could Toyota get away with sponsoring a Chevy, Dodge or Ford?
All in the interest of racing, doncha know. Oh, and winning.

03/23/2007 06:40 AM

You got that right, Jeff. I for one will never own anything NEXTEL, and that includes anything that says NEXTEL CUP on it. It’s Winston Cup racing in my house, and always will be. Heck, I still wear a shirt I bought purposely the year before they sold NAME RIGHTS to Charlotte to Lowes. My shirt I wear to the race says “Charlotte Motor Speedway.” It will always be the Busch Series, too, no matter who ponies up the bucks for that series. Sunoco, nope, not ever again, I’ll drive another couple of miles to the Shell Station. My memory and will power over this stuff won’t end.

03/23/2007 07:04 AM

Good article and really good points. Who cares if Nextel is the “offical” phone of NASCAR, or Home Depot is the “official” home improvement store? It means nothing and only sets up conflicts of interest when these official sponsors’ cars mysteriously win races with invisible debris cautions. I don’t think brands matter too much to fans anymore. There is such overkill with advertising that it all runs together. I’m not even sure car manufacturers matter much anymore, especially to the new fans. To them the driver is the focal point. I quit lining pockets of drivers, sponsors, and NASCAR, especially, a long time ago, when I read that Dale Earnhart bought a jet with his souvenir profits one year. I work too hard to buy an already filthy rich driver his toys. NASCAR, of course, gets a cut of anything with the NASCAR logo on it. Another reason not to buy souvenirs.

03/23/2007 08:03 AM

NASCAR is too busy trying to make everything the “Official Whatever” of NASCAR. I have heard that companies approach NASCAR with the intent to sponsor a team. Instead of directing them towards a team that needs sponsorship, NASCAR grabs them to sponsor something for the entire series.

This is why so many teams are struggling. They are either having trouble finding sponsors or their sponsors are ones like Cingular/AT&T or Shell. It is like these companies are afraid of a little competition!

03/23/2007 08:55 AM

Sunoco/Shell is a pretty clear case. Sunoco, like 76 before it, is the exclusive fuel supplier/marketer. It pays NASCAR a fee and supplies all the teams in Cup/Busch/Truck with free race gas. That’s why the #42 has always been the Havoline and not the Texaco car. NASCAR approved Shell/Pennzoil as a motor oil sponsor for the #29. Shell chose to ignore the rules and market the #29 deal as a Shell sponsorship. In Shell stations, Pennzoil is barely shown or mentioned. That violates Sunoco’s exclusivity as a gasoline marketer. Their execs aren’t “idiots”, as you wrote… they were ambushed by Shell.

03/23/2007 08:57 AM

I couldn’t agree more about the whole sponsorship thing. How petty can it get? I’d think in this day and age when sponsorship money is hard to come by, Nascar would embrace just about anyone that is willing to put up the money to participate in the sport. I try to support sponsors of my favourite drivers but I see now I can add Sunoco and Nextel/Sprint to the list of ones I don’t use.

M. B. Voelker
03/23/2007 01:12 PM

So, all of you who think that Sunoco and Nextel shouldn’t have any right to what they paid for …

How would you feel about your neighbors building their fence a foot on your side of the property line? I’ll bet you’d be very clear on whose property it was in that case.

How would you feel about renting a hotel room for the weekend then coming back to find that someone else was sleeping in your room? Bet you’d think the hotel had every right to sell you exclusive rights to that room.

How about if your biggest rival for the next promotion/raise on your jobsite decided to use your rental car to run his errands? I’ll bet you’d be all over the right to decide who got to use what you’d paid for.

You might be able to make a good argument that Nascar shouldn’t sell exclusive rights to anything (though if they didn’t I’m sure you’d be complaining about low purses and how small, independent teams can’t afford enough gas to run the entire race), but once something has been sold there is no justification for saying that the buyers can’t use their own property.

03/23/2007 05:31 PM

I’m pretty sure that I know the answers to my questions, but I’d like for someone to make it clearer to me.

I know Nascar owns most of the tracks that are raced upon in Cup. But if the race teams are independent contractors, how can Nascar dictate what car/equipment they can drive in a race? Also, what about the tracks that Nascar doesn’t own? All of which prompts more questions.

Why doesn’t Bruton Smith, tell Nascar to stick it and start his own race circuit. At the same time, I would think, that a lot of owners would tell Nascar to stick it as well.

One could continue on with more questions concerning this dictatorial organization, but it would be interesting if the Nascar powers to be would be brought down a notch. I don’t know how they get by with what they do anyway. It’s disgusting what these people get away with.

Enlighten me please!!

03/23/2007 07:54 PM

What makes me angry is to hear these intelligent tv people (reporters, commentators, color-guys, etc), refer to how many Nextel Cups Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Darrel Waltrip, Cale, etc, etc, won. To my knowledge, none of these gentlemen ever won a Nextel Cup. Dale won 7 Winston Cups, Richard didn’t win that many Winston Cups, but he did win some Grand National Championships, to equal 7. Call it what it is.

abe browne
03/24/2007 10:44 AM

This type of behavior by NASCAR may start some major sponsors and other money people to start up a rival real stock car series. Reduced costs and tracks looking for race dates could spark a Champ Car—IRL situation.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
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