Monday, July 10, 2006

Hot like Dale Earnhardt?

I'm curious what moment or event triggered the push to make NASCAR hot? Did recent polls alert their PR flacks to the fact that their base audience might be getting older and to sustain themselves they needed a younger, hipper edge? It probably began long before it ever hit my radar screen, but I see the emergence of Danica Patrick as the turning point in NASCAR marketing. It's fairly ingenious. A young, attractive woman should secure their base (men...old and young) and may even hook some of the hesitant younger guys who don't want to be fans. She may also strike a cord with women, rooting for one of their own (of course, when do women actually do this). Just in case the women get a little territorial about a woman out there racing cars, she's made sure to write a successful memoir, and Harlequin has launched a series of NASCAR romance novels. Seems to me another example of NASCAR trying to reach out to new audiences is the fact that every morning I'm greeted by a metro ad at the Courthouse Metro with Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon (I think...whoever he is, he's young and hot) proclaiming that 'I am Indy'. For those of you who know anything about the Courthouse area of Arlington, you know it's one of the last places you'd look for a NASCAR fan. However, an ad with hot, young people proclaiming themselves Indy should feel right at home in that area. And, now, solidifying the mix of hip and mass appeal is the hysterical Will Ferrell starring in his own NASCAR movie, Talladega Nights. Not a bad choice to bring laughter and NASCAR to the yuppie, the redneck and everyone in between. Think I'll be headed south to catch a race anytime soon? Nope, and I wouldn't be caught with a NASCAR romance either. Will Ferrell is about as NASCAR as I'm getting these days.

10 comments:

  1. Will Ferrell is a genius to make that movie. Not only will his fans go see it, but all of the Nascar fans will, too.

    Nascar kind of confuses me. It's like, I get it but I don't at the same time.

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  2. As someone who got involved with NASCAR marketing last year, via my job, I have to say this: They know exactly what the hell they're doing...

    They understand their stereotypical fan, and will not risk alienating them at all, but they also completely appreciate that they have a very marketable product to sell to mainstream America.

    They can offer speed, good-looking "All-American men", accessibility (tracks all over the country now, like Chicago, KC, and CA), and its not the kind of event that your average family is priced out of yet.

    Danica for them would be a coup, but if she doesn't drive well, the novelty will wear off quickly. But it won't matter in the long run, because they've reached their Fortune 500 audience they needed to already.

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  3. PRSlaveDC - In case you didn't understand me or I wasn't clear enough, I think their marketing is brilliant.

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  4. I will say, I love Tony Stewart! I also love accents from Arkansas.

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  5. NASCAR is why Bush won the election. it's a red state thing.

    ...haha.

    i tell you though, from the PR world, anything relating to NASCAR is sellable. we were pitching interview opportunity with a NASCAR driver who was going to talk about a charity thing and people were calling US...that never happens.

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  6. Amanda, NASCAR has even infiltrated my work world. I was at a meeting down in rural Virginia, and a retired NASCAR driver runs a foundation down there. He was at this meeting, and it was like god was speaking the way these people hung on his every word. Amazing.

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  7. Sorry, my bad... I was just blown away the first I time I went to race last year though. I'm a straight up city boy and I had the best time ever, they just find a way to cater to everyone, its incredible.

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  8. 2 years ago for Halloween my coworkers dressed up as Nascar fans. Mullets, bad teeth, sweat stained wife beaters. They even did a keg stand. I decided that very day that Nascar just wasn't for me.

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  9. Oh well if you're talking keg stands...I'M IN!

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  10. I've noticed NASCAR's new 'hip' marketing as well... that and I read that they are serving lattes in the stands. NASCAR is already supposedly the biggest spectator sport in the country, do they really need to get more fans?

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