Full Throttle – Sometimes Sponsorship Relationships are Made for Each Other
There have been a few sponsorships in the history of NASCAR that were ideal. Dale Earnhardt and Wrangler were a perfect match. The Intimidator had worn Wranglers for his entire life and exuded the tough-guy persona of the jeans company. Darrell Waltrip and Tide, on the other hand…not so much. That’s mainly because of Tide being detergent (and Waltrip’s driving style wasn’t always the cleanest). The saving grace there was the outlandishly bright paint scheme that came with the deal. Waltrip was always the showman and his having a fluorescent orange car standing out from the crowd was a perfect combination. One that never happened, unfortunately, was Buckshot Jones and Remington Arms. There was never a more perfect sponsor/driver pairing and it simply never happened, though both were in the sport at roughly the same time. We’re now faced with the possibility of Kurt Busch putting a new paint scheme on his car that is potentially another perfect match.
Apparently, after Busch ran the famous Ricky Bobby paint scheme at Talladega, Jerry Springer reached out to Phoenix Racing about the possibility of sponsoring Busch’s car. Ironically, the request occurred at Darlington, shortly before Busch was fined and placed on probation for his actions with Ryan Newman’s pit crew. Apparently Springer saw the ‘Me’ paint scheme at Talladega and appreciated the effort by Busch’s camp. The sensationalistic nature of Busch’s trials and tribulations of late would seem like a perfect fit for Springer’s over-the-top style of broadcasting.
In the modern world of sponsorship and with all of the talk of “activating” sponsorships, imagine what Springer coming into NASCAR could involve. Busch and longtime rival Jimmie Johnson have a bumping and banging incident at Sonoma. After the race, Springer takes both drivers up onto the SPEED stage and they point fingers and call each other names. Midway through the interview, Chandra comes out and bitch slaps Kurt for roughing up her man. Shortly thereafter Busch’s girlfriend Patricia comes out and a hair pulling catfight between the two ladies erupts into a chair-knocking-over, microphone-breaking rumble. NASCAR is constantly looking for a new audience, so there is no doubt that the increased exposure would result in a large uptick in television ratings, especially at the end of broadcasts.
OK, so that’s not going to happen. But the bottom line is that teams are constantly searching for ways to get sponsors on the hoods of their cars. Reaching out to television programming is a very smart move by the folks at Phoenix. The television reach of Springer is massive and the demographic of his program is, suffice it to say, quite similar to the historic NASCAR fan base. Since quite a bit of that historic legion of NASCAR fans has deserted the sport, having Springer splattered across the hood of the No. 51 might be a small step towards bringing those lost fans back into the fold.
Busch’s recent troubles have truly seemed to be overblown but have undoubtedly attracted a large amount of attention to him and his race team. Putting Springer on the hood would be a great benefit for the team just because they need some sponsorship desperately. It could also be a big step in the direction of drawing in a whole new genre of sponsors to the sport. We’ve seen movies on car hoods and video games, too; now we could be seeing the beginning of an influx of television and radio programs. The new Dallas series could jump on someone’s hood for the races in Texas. Had the timing been better, the Hatfields and McCoys would have been a great fit for Kentucky, possibly for a pair of cars. Not that she needs the sponsorship, but Oprah Winfrey and her network could bring a whole new audience to follow Danica Patrick or Johanna Long. The potential for different partnerships is nearly limitless due to the dearth of television programs and different personalities in the garage. It all comes down to thinking outside of the box, or more appropriately, inside the television box.
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