In a recent post, we reviewed the five primary points of entry into a NASCAR sponsorship. One of those points of entry is with a race team. As a race team, this is the area we obviously know the most about, so we want to provide a deeper look at the assets available to a sponsor through this type of sponsorship. By “assets,” we mean things that the team owns or controls, that can be leveraged to achieve the sponsor’s overall goals. Some of these will be a “no brainer,” while others will be less obvious, but all ultimately depend on the level of investment a sponsor is willing to make.
Before diving into the available assets in detail, it is important to understand that there are different levels of sponsorships available with race teams. The most frequently used terms when referencing sponsors are “Primary” and “Associate.” The main difference between the two is the level of investment by the sponsor. A Primary sponsor is, as the name signifies, the primary and most visible sponsor of the team. In contrast, an Associate sponsor can be looked at as a secondary or supportive sponsorship. No less important, but just not as “visible” as a primary sponsorship. The assets in either a primary or associate sponsorship package can be similar but are scaled differently based on the investment.
The most notable asset a sponsor receives in their sponsorship package is the race car. The race car can be thought of as a moving billboard that is visible on weekly NASCAR broadcasts on national television. The primary sponsor of the race car controls the design of the car or what is most often referred to as the “paint scheme,” “paint out,” or “livery”. The paint scheme affords the sponsor the unique ability to showcase their brand image and logo in a fun way to fans watching on TV and live at the track.
The primary sponsor also receives the most visible locations on the car to showcase their brand. These include: the hood of the car, the rear quarter panels (upper sides above rear tires), the roof area, and the TV panel (license plate area on your personal car). Associate sponsor placements are typically smaller in nature and placed in areas such as the lower hood area, the lower rear quarter panel area (behind the rear tires), the deck lid (top of trunk), B and C posts (area between windows).
Fun fact: While we commonly refer to car “paint schemes”, most cars are no longer painted. Instead, they are wrapped with vinyl decals, which allows for more elaborate designs.
Beyond the most visible of team assets – the race car – there are other pieces of team equipment used weekly by the race team at the track on the road. The most prominent of these assets would be the team tractor and trailer (or hauler). The hauler – which transport the cars and equipment from race to race – is similar to the race car in that it is designed and wrapped to showcase the primary sponsors with the associate sponsors receiving logo exposure. Think of the hauler as a mobile billboard for your brand that travels 50,000+ miles a year across the country.
The at-track equipment can include the pit box, tool box and generator, all of which have consistent branding throughout the year. The pit box, which serves as the command center for the team during the race, has areas where branding can change weekly to accommodate the different primary sponsors. This would also include a branded pit wall banner that is hung on the pit wall in front of the pit box on pit road.
All of the assets outlined above are those that are most commonly associated with a race team sponsorship. This is partly due to how most people think about a NASCAR sponsorship (i.e. a logo on a race car, or hauler, etc.), and also because those assets are the most visible.
Beyond these more obvious assets are those you may not think of when considering a race team sponsorship. They tend to be less tangible but can be equally, if not more important to an individual sponsorship program.
As we have mentioned in past blogs, B2B relationships have become an increasingly important aspect of sponsorship in the racing industry. A sponsorship investment with a race team gets you instant access to the other sponsors with the team and the sponsors within the sport at large. For some sponsors, these connections are the primary reason for considering a racing sponsorship. You gain membership to the “country club” of sorts.
Then there is the array of human resources that can be accessed and leveraged by a sponsor. Here we’re talking about the driver, the crew, and other team staff.
The driver is the face of the team and thus serves as the spokesperson for the sponsors. When you sponsor a team, the connection between driver and sponsor is very important as you want to make sure they fit your brand image and would serve as a strong brand ambassador. As a team sponsor, you are allowed to use the likeness and name of the driver to promote your brand and create a connection with race fans. Beyond using the driver in commercials and promotions, both the driver and the race teams crew wear branded fire suits that are visibly displayed to millions on a weekly basis.
By sponsoring a team, you also obtain their industry expertise within the sport. Most teams have seasoned veterans of the sport with experience on multiple sides of the desk who can serve as a helpful resource in navigating the NASCAR landscape. They can help you avoid landmines that others may have already stepped on and act almost like an extension of your marketing/brand team.
Another area where race teams can support the sponsorship is on the public relations, content, and social media side of things. Social media, content, and public relations are support assets that teams provide as part of any sponsorship. Race teams have dedicated personnel who work on promoting the team and sponsorship.
The PR reps travel each and every week with the sole purpose of finding ways to get your brand incremental exposure in unique ways. This can include features during the race broadcast, scheduled press conferences for special announcement or promotion, or placements in online and/or offline publications.
As original content creation, and social media, has become increasingly important for brands, race teams have also expanded their efforts in this area. Race teams often collaborate with sponsors on original content and social media initiatives to drive the sponsorship program on digital platforms.
This is just a brief overview of the potential assets available as part of a race team sponsorship. Of course, the specific asset mix that comprises each sponsor deal will vary, depending on the specific goals of the sponsorship program.