Faced with heightened demands from its official partners, NASCAR is responding with a series of new programmes to freshen its business-to-business council and create more retail opportunities for its consumer brands.
It's part of a year-long initiative that evolved out of a cry from official partners to provide new opportunities in the midst of the recession. NASCAR has been floating three new programmes to partners in the past few weeks: an employee-only NASCAR website, exclusive cinema advertising and a partner-only sweepstakes for 2010.
“What we've been charged with is building a larger library of assets for our partners,” said Norris Scott, NASCAR's managing director of partnership marketing and business solutions. “One question we get a lot, due to the economy, is, 'What else can I get as part of my investment?' What we're working on are tools that partners can utilise so that they're getting greater value.”
The chief gripe among official partners was, once you get past the business-to-business opportunities and use of the NASCAR logo, what else is there? How can NASCAR facilitate new business opportunities for the partners beyond the B2B council?
These questions have been around for years, but they've intensified during the recession, Scott said, as marketing chiefs feel the heat to show greater return for their investment. Those official partner deals typically go for $1 million to $3 million a year.
“It's been newfound business that was brought to us on a plate,” Coca-Cola's Ben Reiling said of a recent NASCAR-driven retail programme at a grocery chain called Brookshire's across a four-state region.
Reiling, Coke's director of motorsports, said it was refreshing for NASCAR to organise a programme with other consumer brands that generated incremental sales “for a small fee.”
Official partners with consumer-packaged goods include Kraft, Mars, Unilever, Kellogg's and Procter & Gamble, all of which participated. Combining these brands with Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero in prominent store displays drives sales, Reiling said.
“Some partners might utilise the business-to-business council, others don't,” Scott said. “But the key is that we now have other assets and some added flexibility for our partners. What we're providing is an exclusive space for partners to promote their business.”