Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marketing Magic!

NASCAR is a brand name that has its foundation built on the backs of sponsors. NASCAR has their official sponsors, the tracks have their sponsors, each series has a sponsor, and of course the drivers have their sponsors.

Every week, from the first interview at the first practice session, (between the sponsoring advertising in commercials) to the very last shot in Victory Lane, the drivers recite the list all of the sponsor decals residing on their cars.

Fortune 500 firms employ teams of marketing experts to determine the right fit for their company, and usually have at least one corporate representative in attendance at every race. However, brilliant marketing is all about timing. A few examples are shown here!

The simplest example is the announcement that the #31 AT&T Chevrolet will carry a special paint scheme for the American athletes participating in the Beijing Olympics. While 100% honorable in their intent and the focus they are putting on the Olympics, one has to remember that AT&T is also an official sponsor for the Olympics. And the timing? The car will race on Sunday at Pocono, and on Monday, Steve Jobs is expected to announce the latest and greatest version of the iphone! And the exclusive carrier for the iphone would be....yes, AT&T!

Another example from the recent past is couched within the announcement that Gordon, DuPont re-up through 2010. While a reader who only catches headlines or the first few paragraphs may assume that Gordon had his contract extended, along with Dupont, the truth is, Jeff Gordon has a lifetime contract with Rick Hendrick. The truth is that Dupont is the only entity signing an extension. The timing? The announcement was timed for the Dover race, as the headquarters for Dupont reside in Wilmingon Delaware! This is a wonderful announcement to present to all of the VIP's that are sitting in the cushy Dupont Bridge hovering over the track.

Major headlines were made recently, when it was revealed that Elliott Sadler agreed to a two year extension with Gillette Evernham Motorsports. This announcement was brought out just in time for the Best Buy 400 at Dover. Sadler's sponsor, Best Buy, also jumped on board to support the special charity that is close to Sadler's heart, Autism The planets all aligned to have Sadler sign that contract just in the nick of time for the race! Or did they? If one goes back to April of 2008, you could read that Lee Spencer broke the story of Sadler's contract extension hidden in this article prior to the Phoenix race.
(Sadly, the planets did not align to give the Best Buy sponsors more than 19 laps of their car racing at the race!)

There is nothing wrong in marketing. In fact, the marketing that is performed in the name of NASCAR is what keeps our sport moving. It is fun,however, to look behind the actual press release to see where the marketing is hidden. Sometimes, you will find some jewels of knowledge! Or, should I say GEMs? At any rate, Brilliant!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mostly Moronic Media Members

It is no secret to many of the readers of this blog, that I am formerly a fan of Elliott Sadler, and have moved my allegiance to David Gilliland. The main reason I have made this move, is that David exhibits the off-track behavior that always seemed missing from the Southern Gentleman driver of the #19. ( You can check out blogger One Lugnut Short for more info on Sadler's shenanigans. But be prepared with a pot of coffee and snacks, as there is a lot to read within the history of that blog!) While Gilliland has had some struggles from bad equipment, he is persevering, in his second full year, with a rookie crew chief, an essentially brand new team, and is beating all expectations.

Yes, I follow a driver that does not have the experience of many of the so-called veterans of the series. I find it fun to root for the underdog, and I take pleasure over small increases in progress. (I am constantly amazed at fans of drivers who consistently run in the top ten, complaining that their driver has a bad car, bad team, bad cc, etc etc etc! The pain of not having a driver finish in the top five...oh my, how horrible!)

Thus, it was interesting to be a spectator, albeit via TV and online, of the wreck caused today at the Best Buy sponsored race at Dover. I keep busy during races by running an online race chat, watching TV, and running Pit Command and Race View on two computers. I listen to Sirius radio during the race, in one ear, and the scanner for my driver in the other ear. I watched the 3-D pictures of Race View as the 19 and the 38 came together, spawning a huge wreck.

That 'Big One Wreck' had me holding my breath, waiting to see the replay, and I was relieved to see that my driver, while involved, was not at fault in the accident. Multiple replays later, the talking heads in the booth agreed that the 19 carried the greater fault in the altercation. My relief that Sadler and the other drivers involved in the horrible melee were all physically ok was punctuated by Tony Stewart's sly comments about 'If I'm within half a lap of (Sadler), I expect that to happen."

I then discovered there were a few Members of the Media that seem to carry a bit of a grudge. Take for instance, Bob Margolis, of, during their weekly RaceFlash.

Here is the transcript, a race-time conversation with Margolis, Jay Hart, and Jerry Bonkowsi (the latter who I have respected for years) :

Bob Margolis: David Gilliland made a lot of enemies today. He'll not be invited to any driver parties (as if he was before) in the future.

Jerry Bonkowski: I disagree with you, Bob. TV replay looks like Sadler came down on Gilliland and Gilliland had nowhere to go.

Jay Hart: I agree with Jerry. Sadler caused it, not Gilliland.

Bob Margolis: You're both wrong.

Jay Hart: What was Gilliland supposed to do, Bob? Sadler moved down right in front of him. He had nowhere to go.

Jerry Bonkowski: Sadler says he got loose and came down on Gilliland - there ya go, Bob.

Bob Margolis: I still blame Gilliland. He's over his head.
I find it amazing that the Margolis argument stems from total illogic. You can almost hear the childish "No I don't wanna believe that!" However, if you go back into many of Bob's articles, you will find many negative comments about Gilliland. I have to wonder if Bob has any deeper connection to other drivers who may have an issue with Gilliland, because that kind of illogic is not befitting of a journalist.

Once I reduced my blood pressure over Bob's commentary, I made the mistake of watching Victory Lane on Speed TV. Early into the broadcast, Jimmy Spencer, who never forgets, seems to be forgetting that he should be a bit impartial. He immediately and with great anger proclaimed the wreck to be Gilliland's fault, and that he 'should have his butt parked for the rest of the race.' He participated in conversation proclaiming that the other Big Name drivers could not stop in time (some of them having ten or twenty car lengths to make the stop), yet says that Gilliland could have braked fast enough to keep from hitting a car coming down on him. This concept was made even more ironic when the earlier broadcast of the Race Day show said that 'things happen fast' at this track!

Spencer has carried an issue with Gilliland for quite a while. He has managed to butcher the pronunciation of David's last name for a year and a half, yet was able to pronounce it perfectly this evening.

Many folks proclaim that Jimmy is one of the last of the old school drivers. Thank heavens that I have listened to Buddy Baker on Sirius, or I would be convinced that Jimmy was a (poor) example of the 'back in the day' drivers. (Egad, it makes me like Kurt Busch even more, for his 'decrepit has-been' comments a few years ago!)

I can forgive Jimmy just a bit, since he is not a journalist. He plays the buffoon on the SpeedTV shows, and therefor cannot be given much credit for being impartial. However, I will be boycotting whatever show he is on from now on. I find that I get far better race information from the Sirius broadcasts. Margolis, however, should be ashamed of his bias. I think that Hart and Bonkowski, along with Ricky Craven, are awesome, but Margolis should think twice before tapping on the keyboards.

Both of them need to sit down and read that even fans of Elliott Sadler proclaim that Sadler caused this wreck. And they need to be prepared for the backlash, because NASCAR fans are not stupid. We know when Mostly Moronic Members of the Media are trying at Manipulating our Minds!

Bob and Jimmy-consider yourselves FLAMED!