The last several years in the sport of NASCAR have been a bit bleak. As TV ratings fell and the number of fans filling seats lessened, teams began to feel the pinch. It was only a few years ago that powerhouse teams had large sponsors that stayed for the entire year and in fact that was the norm. In recent years though the big sponsors dwindled and many teams scrambled to put together a program with various brands that would only commit to a few races a year. According to a report issued by NASCAR Thursday however the future may be looking up.
According to the report nearly one-in-four of the 117 Fortune 500 companies now use NASCAR as part of their marketing mix. The report basis its information on an analysis of sponsors currently in the sport when compared to the magazine’s annual list released this month. According to the reports for the second consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies involved in NASCAR increased, an eight percent improvement over 2008. The analysis encompassed companies currently involved as a sponsor of NASCAR’s sanctioning body, teams, tracks and/or as media partners.
“There’s a reason the number of Fortune 500 companies invested in NASCAR remains higher than any other sport,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s chief marketing officer. “Our fans are among the most brand loyal in all of sports. Some of the world’s biggest, most recognizable and profitable brands utilize NASCAR as a critical and powerful part of their marketing mix because it works for their business.”
NASCAR commissioned a study conducted by Toluna prior to the start of the 2013 season and those results show that approximately one out of four NASCAR fans strongly agree that they support NASCAR sponsors more than sponsors of other sports.
“The current sponsorship landscape is as competitive as it has ever been,” said Michael Waltrip, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. “Our partners continue to choose to use our team to drive their brands because we have had success demonstrating value in their investment, proven by our recent partnership renewals with NAPA Auto Parts and other major corporations.”
To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and publicly traded. Though many companies on the Fortune 500 utilize NASCAR as part of their business-building strategy to develop their customer base, strengthen market share, and increase value for their shareholders, only industry partners, media partners, and licensees involved in the sport were counted in the analysis. Companies invested in the sport solely as advertisers were not counted.
Although being a Fortune 500 company is the gold standard of success for publicly-traded companies in the United States, there are several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR that were not included in the analysis because they do not meet Fortune’s criteria. A number of those blue-chip brands not qualifying, but are involved significantly in the sport, include Miller/Coors, Mars, Toyota and McLaren.
“Regardless of a company’s entry point into the sport, the demand for a quantifiable return on investment expands across all levels of sponsorship,” said Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. “We take pride in delivering a best-in-class experience and valuable branding opportunities to a number of powerful companies on an annual basis.”
The report is good news for fans and teams. Especially those teams that have been searching for sponsorship and have been forced to rely on piecemeal deals that have affected bottom lines. Should the amount of sponsorship dollars continue to increase, teams who have been forced to cut corners in the past few years will be able to afford to be more competitive , and fans will get fewer teams dominating the sport and more racing for the win on Sunday.
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