NASCAR is now tasked with the chore of finding a title sponsor replacement by the end of 2016 to replace Sprint. It sounds like a daunting chore, but not to worry race fans, notwithstanding the fact that the sponsor must be able to lay out $70-75 million annually, there are corporations out there that may be willing to spend that kind of money.
Look at the quick service restaurant industry (Subway, Burger King, etc.), packaged goods (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, etc.), consumer products (Panasonic, LG, etc.) or companies looking to boost their product line (as was Nextel) will be prime candidates for NASCAR’s next deal. There also could be interest from new or quickly developing industries, such as the energy sector.
“It’s got to be a big, consumer brand,” said Just Marketing International CEO Zak Brown, whose company has worked with Verizon and other firms on their motorsports sponsorships. “It’s one or two approaches. It’s someone like Nextel, who made a really bold step because they were number three or four or five in the category and they wanted to take a big leap.
“Or you go to someone who already is the leader in a category. … I’d be very surprised if they didn’t find one.”
These types of sponsorship deals typically take three to six months to complete, and NASCAR likely needs to have a good idea of who will sponsor the series by next July, Brown said.
That would be a little late to Humpy Wheeler, the former president of Charlotte Motor Speedway and parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc.
He’d like to see a sponsor in place by this time next year, and he’s optimistic that NASCAR will land one.
“A new sponsor, particularly if it is in a category that we’ve never had before like a software, Microsoft, Apple-type thing, would sure bring new vigor to the whole thing,” Wheeler said.
It obviously needs to be a company that has money, but that money can be divided up in many ways. The series points fund was about $22 million. Then there is money to NASCAR for branding as well as a significant media buy as far as promoting the sport and advertising on NASCAR telecasts.
“People say it’s terribly expensive,” Wheeler said. “We know it’s a lot of money. But if you compare it to a company that is engaged in advertising with the NFL for a whole season including the Super Bowl, somebody who has taken a big new sitcom on, it’s really not out of that realm of possibility.
“It’s not something 200 companies can afford. It’s probably down to 50. I think we will find somebody that will come in here and sponsor it and we’ll probably be better off as a result.”
Mike Boykin, CEO of Bespoke Sports & Entertainment, said it would be difficult to put a number on the possible companies that could sponsor. He said he also views energy or petroleum companies as possibilities in addition to the traditional firms.
“What if it’s somebody from offshore?” Boykin said. “It could be an energy company, a petroleum company, a CPG [consumer packaged goods], it could be technology.
“In the old days, you could narrow it down to U.S. companies. But right now, while I think the likelihood it will be a North American company, I wouldn’t rule out the other.”
Wheeler said if NASCAR’s aerodynamic changes work and the racing is better in 2015, the sport could ride the upswing in landing a good deal with a sponsor.
“There is only a few big entitlement opportunities,” Will Pleasants said. He is senior vice president for consulting for Wassmeran Group, which coordinated Nationwide’s marketing efforts. “And this is one of them. … There is still value in the entitlement in this setting. We saw it with Nationwide. You can make an impact in a relatively short amount of time.”