Race Weekend Central

Dollars And Sense: Fortune 500’s NASCAR Connection

Despite what many people think during this age of corporations slashing their sports marketing budgets, more Fortune 500 companies are involved in NASCAR now than were present in 2008. A new NASCAR study tells us that one in five Fortune 500 companies are investing in the sport, with “114 companies”:http://assets.bizjournals.com/orlando/pdf/NASCAR%202012%20Fortune%20500.pdf on that prestigious list of 500 being involved in NASCAR. This is the largest total of all professional sports.

NASCAR polled teams and tracks in a review to see what brands are sponsoring the sport. So far in 2012, 24 brands have committed to sponsorship somewhere within NASCAR. According to Jon Schwartz, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, these new participants include Fortune 500 Altria Group, Hewlett Packard, and MasterCard.

None of these new Fortune 500 company logos, however, are adorned on the hood of a race car. Of course, a Sprint Cup car’s paint scheme is a fan’s favorite place to see a sponsor’s logo, and also the best way to keep a race team full of crew members fully employed. But while the race teams themselves have signed many of their current backers to extensions this season, no major additions for 2013 have been announced as of yet.

While one congresswoman from Minnesota bemoans the U.S. Army having any sort of involvement in a sport that is only second to the NFL in viewership….

Some background here; to be included in the Fortune 500, the company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. NASCAR says many other businesses participating in sponsorship have been left out of this total, as well as government institutions and large international corporations.

“Some of the world’s most profitable and successful corporations choose NASCAR to help drive their businesses,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “These companies bring a great amount of rigor to where they make investments. This is especially true when it comes to marketing – and the sponsorship channel in particular – where they are looking for strong return on investment.”

…a congressman from North Carolina reports a $300 million return on investment with the sport’s most popular driver.

Much has been discussed on “Frontstretch.com”:https://frontstretch.com and other publications in the past week regarding the U.S. Army pulling sponsorship from the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing car of Ryan Newman, and whether or not they are getting the return on investment their $8 million annual investment was expected to return. “I wrote an article about there plans”:http://bit.ly/MmarnB and the rationale behind suspending the U.S. Army’s involvement in NASCAR.

“By ending its sponsorship of NASCAR, the Army made the right move to eliminate a wasteful program,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).

The National Guard has since reaffirmed their desire to stay in the sport. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said in yesterday’s Congressional Debate, “National Guard got a $300 million return on investment in NASCAR.”

Monday, in an “open letter”:https://nascar-assets.americaneagle.com/assets/1/workflow_staging/News/260337.PDF to the speaker of the house, NASCAR wrote that “professional sport sponsorships by the Services branches have made a direct impact on military recruiting. For example, in 2010, the Army’s recruiting efforts at NASCAR events resulted in 46,000 qualified leads.”

Some notable 2011 team sponsors that are not funding any teams in 2012 are Crown Royal and Red Bull. Crown Royal is still involved in the sport with title sponsorship of the next race on the Sprint Cup schedule, while Red Bull abandoned the sport all together. Notable companies that just sponsored one race this season are UPS and Wal-Mart, which has never backed a Cup car full-time.

Fans will always take notice of the companies that leave the sport, due to the barrage of stories written after each departure. When a typical company arrives with new NASCAR sponsorship, articles typically are as readable as a press release and are quickly forgotten. That is unless it is a Fortune 500 company, bringing a primary sponsorship to a competitive Sprint Cup team.

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