In hopes of combating its declining popularity, NASCAR put together a committee of fans to weigh in on the sport. Inspired by that idea, SportsBusiness Daily put together a fan panel of its own to discuss sponsorships in the sport. They came away with some interesting responses.Three of the five pans polled said they were influenced by driver sponsorships.
“I drink Amp Energy… It’s not Nos because that’s Kyle Busch and I’m not going to drink that. It’s Amp because that’s Dale Jr.’s.”
“I can tell you right now I wouldn’t walk into Lowe’s if I had a hole in my roof. I just do not like Jimmie Johnson.”
But all the fans agreed that they’re off-put by drivers’ insistence on thanking sponsors – rather than displaying any personality – in winner’s circles. “They may have personality,” one fan said, “but we don’t get to see what their personality is.”
The last point is a major problem. Yesterday, we acknowledged the perception that NASCAR’s inability to find a driver that connects with fans is plaguing the sport, and winners rattling off sponsor names before showing any emotion only contributes to that. In fact, sponsors would also benefit from the driver forgoing brands in favour of personality, as that would compel a fan to imitate that driver.
One final interesting note is how careful brands need to be when choosing drivers. Not only can sponsorships attract consumers, they can also repel them. Jimmie Johnson is about as controversy free as they come, but his stoic dominance clearly turns fans off. That’s why the less accomplished Tony Stewart takes the checkered flag when it comes to big-time endorsements. How can you not love the chubby, Old Spice-wearing, Burger King-eating, every-man?
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