Danica Patrick's representatives at IMG will soon be talking to the brands endorsed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. as both camps seek opportunities to combine the star power of the two drivers.
Even though Patrick's move to NASCAR has been in the works since the summer, she just last week signed to drive a dozen or so Nationwide Series races for Earnhardt's JR Motorsports, a team he co-owns with Rick Hendrick. She'll continue to drive a full Izod IndyCar Series schedule for Andretti Autosport.
“Now that there's something real to talk about, we can sit with (Earnhardt's) partners to find the right opportunities for both of them,” said Mark Dyer, senior vice president, strategic planning and development at IMG, the agency that represents Patrick and engineered her move to NASCAR. Dyer is part of an IMG team that includes Alan Zucker, Patrick's agent from the client representation group; Tom Worcester from business development; and Tom Knox from motorsports business development.
GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor on Patrick's #7 Chevrolet at JRM, and two other associate sponsorships are close. Primary, full-season sponsorships in the Nationwide Series run anywhere from $5 million to $7 million a year for the top teams.
Go Daddy also sponsors Patrick in IndyCar, so the potential for sponsor conflict has been limited so far. IndyCar primary sponsorships run about the same as Nationwide team deals, in the mid-to-high seven figures.
Additionally, Go Daddy is spending well into eight figures to sponsor Mark Martin's #5 Sprint Cup car for a majority of the 36 races next year, bringing the total sponsorship spend for the domain name provider to more than $20 million. That doesn't include Go Daddy's significant media buy, which will include two spots for Patrick ads in the Super Bowl.
Go Daddy also sponsored a JRM car last season and is expected to have a relationship with Earnhardt this season.
As IMG and JRM work together to fill out the sponsorship on her Nationwide Series car, the more compelling possibilities are how Patrick might work together with Earnhardt, NASCAR's most popular driver for seven straight seasons. Earnhardt's co-primary sponsors are Pepsi's Amp Energy and National Guard, while he also endorses Nationwide Insurance, the title sponsor of NASCAR's #2 series. John Aman, associate vice president of sponsorships for Nationwide, has said the insurance giant is studying endorsement opportunities, which could play off Patrick's participation in the series or her ties with Earnhardt.
“Absolutely”, there will be opportunities, Dyer said, for Patrick and Earnhardt to work together. “There are a lot of brands within Pepsi, and Dale has his own affiliation with Go Daddy and Nationwide as well.”
Just as interesting is the potential for a brand to pair Patrick and Earnhardt's sister, Kelley, the president of JRM who negotiated the deal with IMG to bring Patrick to the team. Kelley Earnhardt, like Patrick, is blazing trails as a woman in a profession dominated by men.