Champion the Cause
By Brian Mackey
Motor racing has always been the leader in event marketing. In fact, we, as an industry, essentially invented it! For years, motor racing has been THE place to spend event marketing dollars. The sport has dominated the category for many years. More event marketing dollars are spent in motorsports than any other single category. It leads the entire sports industry and sports dominates the event marketing dollar allocation. In a phrase, the motorsport industry is the leader of the pack. Over the last numerous years, those of us who carve out a living selling the benefits of motorsport marketing as well as PR and the other functions of motorsport, have often relied on this fact to help us gain additional credibility and impact when presenting a sponsorship proposal to a sponsor prospect. Marketing managers like to see that the sport has a successful “track record”, so to speak, and want to spend available marketing dollars in an arena that has a long history of creating results for sponsor companies. Motor racing has that kind of credibility.
But in the last several years, I have noticed a change. I think that other sports and event marketing “platforms”, are catching up! And catching up fast! Perhaps, they have even passed the sport of motor racing as the leader in event marketing strategies. And that is not a good thing! They may have not caught us yet in the total amount of money spent, but they are passing us in creative ways to reach, influence, budget, finance, and implement sponsor supported event marketing tactics.
Pick up a sponsor marketing newsletter that looks at the entire event marketing industry, and you’ll see what I mean. Other sports and other events have essentially taken the lessons learned from motorsports and developed a package of benefits for sponsors that are parallel, if not superior, to the benefits offered by many in the motorsport industry.
In numerous ways, NASCAR put the sport of motor racing on the corporate marketing map. They developed an image and a marketing story that appealed to corporations and Madison Ave. Thank you, NASCAR. It has helped all of us. When marketing managers are confronted by an opportunity to sponsor a race car, they have been bombarded by the success achieved by sponsors incorporating NASCAR as part of their marketing mix. It is far less adventurous, if not downright traditional to, at a minimum, consider a motorsport program as part of the corporation’s marketing arsenal. This is a direct result from the efforts of NASCAR and the other leading national sanctioning bodies.
But as we watch the sea-change underway, it is imperative that the leadership of the industry, NASCAR, CART, IRL, NHRA and IMSA, continue to push the envelope in the development of sponsor programs and promotions. This is not the time to get conservative, rely on “traditional” strategies or what has been achieved in the past. It’s a new world. If they can continue to maintain the lead, increase it, dominate it, then the rest of us in the industry benefit too. Success breeds success.
The impact on all of us is enormous. It is important to remember that we must look at NASCAR and others as leading the charge. A charge that all of us are in. I know that these other sanctioning bodies and the teams and drivers that comprise them, are competitors for available sponsor dollars, but as the leaders of this industry, they carry the banner of respectability that we all rely upon.
Be a champion of the cause. Encourage all aspects of motorsport marketing. If a sponsor elects to sponsor one of your competitors, be supportive, buy the product/service, keep the sponsor motivated and ultimately, play a role in their success. We will all be better for it. Now and in the future.