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Voices from the Heartland: NASCAR Sponsors Shunning Women? What the Price of Higher Education Gets You Nowadays

As I was perusing the web the other day, I ran across an interesting blog about sponsorship in NASCAR and how it should be geared more towards women.

The blogs from this particular site are the results of an actual college course being offered at Virginia Commonwealth University on the business of NASCAR. The course is taught by Drs. Jon Ackley and Michael Pitts, with posted blogs by students.

The blog that caught my eye was presumably authored by a woman. I presumed this because of a couple of reasons. The authors hide behind only initials, and if it turns out that those initials DO belong to a man, he has some serious issues and needs to be focusing more on abnormal psychology than NASCAR business, for reasons that will become clear as you read on.

The author’s main premise was based on what constitutes a “loyal” fan. She cited the statistics “that NASCAR fans are 75% more likely to purchase items that are endorsed by NASCAR or a favorite driver, and 40% of all fans are females with the majority of the purchasing power.” She went on to say that a “loyal” fan will not substitute a product over a comparable product based on price and availability. Given that definition, she did not consider herself a “loyal” fan as her shopping was not compelled by such restraints.

Now before Brian France gets all upset about such revelations, let me assure you that her attitude is not set in stone! After all, it IS a woman’s prerogative… yada yada yada. Case in point; the author said that she could care less what energy drink or home improvement store was on a racecar, as these are not sponsorships geared strictly towards women. Products such as Tide or Gain or Target did not count because everyone has laundry or shopping needs, not just women. However, she would become a “loyal” fan if there were racecars sponsored by such companies as Tampax, Maybelline, Herbal Essences or even Victoria’s Secret! It is at this point where I rolled my eyes and said “yeah, right!”

To be fair, I must divulge at this point that I have never taken a course on ‘the business of NASCAR’ from any accredited college or university – I have taken a course in over 22 years of marriage and the raising of two daughters. During that time, I have learned a few things.

First off, I will say that I believe the author’s definition of a “loyal” fan to be misguided. A “loyal” fan is loyal usually to either the driver or the product. A good friend of mine drinks Budweiser and for years was a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. He now is a fan of Kasey Kahne. I suspect, even if Kyle Busch were to land the Bud sponsorship in the future that his driver loyalties would change once again. My favorite driver happens to be Carl Edwards, and before that, Dale Jarrett. Both of them drive or drove Fords which I happen to find detestable. While Aflac is an outstanding product, I do not own a policy. When I was going to ship something, I went with the carrier that could get it there the safest and the cheapest. If, by some miracle of clean living, my product needs happen to coincide with my favorite driver, well that is just icing on the cake. My friend is a loyal fan of the beer while I am a loyal fan of the driver, no matter what product he endorses. I’m not going to run out to get a Whopper when I hate them just because Tony Stewart may be my favorite driver. Which brings me to women’s products…

When it comes to feminine hygiene products, are you going to tell me that a woman is willing to switch just because Tampax is sponsoring a racecar? I’ve made many a trip to the store for such products and I can state as fact that if I didn’t write it down EXACTLY, or take the end off the empty box to the store with me, coming home with that particular type of product just because NASCAR endorsed it was a recipe for disaster.

“But honey, this one has wings just like the CoT and it sponsors a racecar!…” Right!

The same is true with makeup. Makeup for a woman is a very personal thing. They have spent years (usually when you’re already running late) getting that shade ‘just right’ or whatever they do in there! If they already use Maybelline, and Maybelline goes on to sponsor a racecar, well that is fine and dandy, but again, what woman that you know is gonna switch makeup products just because of that?

Under britches are the same as well. Women have cried and lamented because a certain bra was discontinued. In fact, some can even tell you the name, store from which they bought it, price and even the day it finally failed of their all time favorite undergarment! For women, once the ‘girls’ have finally found a comfortable ‘home’, your not likely to get them to move just because some racer is driving the Victoria’s Secret or Playtex No. 96 Chevy. It just ain’t gonna happen.

The author did acknowledge that barring a sudden influx of women into NASCAR, finding a male driver to drive such cars may be tough, but she did point out that Mark Martin drove the Viagra car for years with no shame. Yeah, that he did, however, must I point out that is a product geared toward women also? (In a perfect world, anyway)

Sponsorships aimed directly at women could have an interesting effect on the actual racecars though. Would a Tampax car be allowed a bigger wing? Would the underside of the Victoria’s Secret car be all soft and satiny? Would the car blush if it flipped over? Would the other cars be doing a bit more ‘bump-drafting’? Would the Herbal Essences car smell and look better than the others? Would the Maybelline car look stunning even though it was late getting to the track? Would it become a streaked mess if it started raining?

Who knows, maybe more of those answers will be forthcoming as they get studied in our institutions of higher learning?

Stay off the wall (your makeup will smear if you hit it!)

Jeff Meyer

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