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As CART goes global, what about its sponsors?

 by Mark Cipolloni
September 4, 2001

Go to our forums to discuss this article

The CART paddock is split.  Some argue CART should focus primarily on the USA market, while others say CART should go guns a-blazing after the wide open international market.  The argument used by those who feel CART should focus on the USA is a valid one - sponsor dollars in the CART paddock come out of the USA advertising budget for a large majority of the teams, and the USA market is the biggest seller for many companies.

Their argument, therefore, is that CART should focus on the USA because that is where those sponsors want to sell product.  They don't care about the rest of the world market some claim.  While we respect their reasoning, we don't buy the argument.  Are these companies part of a larger company that sell goods worldwide, and if so, doesn't the entire company benefit if CART exposes their products outside the USA too?  

While the USA is ranked first in Gross national Product (GNP), and should always be the 'core' of CART, let's look at other countries with a high GNP rank, countries where sponsors might want to sell goods, and most probably already do.

GNP Rank Country Merits for a CART Race
1 USA The world's biggest economy.  CART should keep 50% (11 of 22 to 24 races) in the USA
2 Japan CART already races there and Honda and Toyota like that.  The race at Motegi is starting to draw very large crowds.
3 Germany CART will be racing there starting this year, but there must be a big name German driver in CART for the race to really succeed.
4 France CART doesn't race there, but we have suggested they do so at Bernie Ecclestone's Paul Ricard circuit
5 England CART will be racing there starting this year as well.  England is really into racing and there is a strong British influence in CART
6 Italy Imola is about to lose their F1 race.  CART should be ready to jump in quickly.  That would make Maserati and Ferrari very happy.
7 China 7th now, but it is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next 10 years.  Is CART ready to pounce on Shanghai now?
8 Brazil CART already raced there and will do so again in Rio in 2002.  CART has many Brazilian drivers. 
9 Canada Look how successful CART has been there.  Next year 3 races.  Let's hope Molson or Air Canada jumps in to replace Players when they leave after 2003
10 Spain There has been no talk of CART racing there, though much to our surprise they rank higher in GNP than we realized.  Servia is from Spain.
11 South Korea I don't see CART racing there anytime soon unless Hyundai enters the series to supply engines.  Stranger things have happened.
12 Netherlands A higher GNP rank than we realized.  Zandvoort is available for CART to race at.  Since they lost their F1 race, they long for a replacement.
15 India 15th is not too shabby.  Humongous population.  Can you say 400,000 fans in the grandstands?  See our recent article on the merits of racing in India.
16 Mexico Not as high as a China, but, oh how the Mexicans love CART.  With NAFTA now in place, we expect Mexico to slowly jump up the GNP rankings.

Based on GNP alone, CART should already be in China and Italy.  CART should not walk, it should run to Shanghai.  It should have been there yesterday.  Ditto for Italy when Imola becomes available.  But it's not just based on GNP that I make this recommendation.  It's also based on where CART's sponsors sell goods.  Read on......

Let's take a closer look at CART's sponsors, and see just how global they are, after which we will draw our final conclusions.  The list below is by no means all-inclusive.  It was what I could remember off the top of my head (comments welcomed).

Company Logo Parent Company USA Only Global Comments
CART Series official Sponsors
Federal Express Federal Express   X Worldwide overnight shipping
Worldcom MCI Worldcom   X Worldwide telecommunications
DieHard Batteries Sears, Roebuck & Co. X   Diehard brand USA only.  Parent company Sears is worldwide
elf Fuels elf   X Petroleum products sold worldwide
Firestone Tires Bridgestone   X Bridgestone Tires sold worldwide, though Firestone largely a USA brand
Ford Ford   X Cars sold worldwide
Featherlite Trailers Featherlite X   Mostly USA and Canada
Honda Motorcycles Honda   X Motorcycles sold around the world
K&K Insurance Aon   X Part of Aon Corp. 51,000 people working in 550 offices in more than 120 countries
Motorola     X Electronic communication equipment sold worldwide
PPG Paints & Glass     X A leading global automotive product manufacturer, PPG operates about 120 manufacturing and several research & development facilities worldwide. 
Simple Green     X Headquartered in Huntington Harbour, CA., with branch offices and manufacturing facilities nationwide and worldwide
Toyota Trucks Totota   X Trucks sold worldwide
Gehl Gehl Company   X Agriculture and light industrial construction equipment.  Primarily USA and Canada, Gehl has a 50+ year of history in international markets through Gehl International
holmatro     X Holmatro has gained a worldwide reputation as a leading manufacturer of high-pressure hydraulic equipment. Holmatro solutions are based on almost 35 years of experience and are offered to rescue and industrial customers in more than 120 countries
Safety-Kleen   X   Premier environmental services company in North America
Engine Suppliers USA Only Global Comments
Ford     X Automobiles sold worldwide
Honda     X Automobiles sold worldwide
Toyota     X Automobiles sold worldwide
Team Sponsors USA Only Global Comments
Redback     X Networking products sold worldwide
Tecate     X Beer sold worldwide
Quaker State Mexico Quaker State   X Parent company Quaker State sells worldwide
Herdez Grupo Herdez   X Sells a variety of products worldwide.  Even sells McCormick seasonings in the USA
Marlboro Philip Morris   X Philip Morris sells so many different products around the world, it's incredible!  Marlboro is sold worldwide
Pioneer     X Sells electronics worldwide
Hollywood British American Tobacco   X Sells tobacco products worldwide
Worldcom     X Telecommunications worldwide
Kmart   X   USA brand only
Texaco Chevron   X Sold worldwide
Nextel Nextel   X Worldwide
Visteon Visteon   X Nearly 80,000 employees in 25 countries. One of the largest automotive suppliers in the world. Visteon's 2000 global sales revenues were $19.5 billion; net income was $270 million
Alpine     X Electronics products sold worldwide
Avex     X Japan based music and entertainment
BAR (Players) British American Tobacco   X Sell tobacco products worldwide
Bosch Plugs     X Sell automotive products worldwide
CocaCola     X Sell beverages in 200 countries worldwide
Compaq Computers     X Sell computers worldwide.  #20 of Fortune 500 company
Craftsman Tools     X Tools sold worldwide
DieHard Batteries   X   Diehard brand USA only.  Parent company Sears is worldwide
Dupont     X Worldwide products
Energizer Batteries Ever Ready Battery   X Energizer Holdings, Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of dry cell batteries and flashlights, and a global leader in the dynamic business of providing portable power. Energizer's worldwide work force of approximately 10,500 produce more than 6 billion battery cells annually.
Fuji Film     X Film sold worldwide
Indeck     X Power equipment sold worldwide
Kraft Phillip Morris   X Food products sold worldwide.  Owned by Philip Morris
Miller Beer     X Alcoholic beverages sold worldwide
Motorola     X Electronic communication equipment sold worldwide
Panasonic     X Electronics sold worldwide
Pepsi PepsiCo   X Beverages sold worldwide
STP Clorox   X Sold worldwide.  The Armor All/STP Products Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Clorox Company (NYSE, PE: CLX), a multinational manufacturer and marketer of household products and products for institutional markets. Founded in 1913, The Clorox Company, based in Oakland, Calif., has $4 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.
Target Stores Dayton Hudson X   No strong international ties
Telmex   X   Mexico
Globalstar     X Sells satellite based phones worldwide
Jack Victor     X Sells clothing worldwide
Kool Cigarettes Brown & Williamson   X Sells tobacco products worldwide
Archipelago     X A whole host of services, worldwide
Timkin     X Timken operates facilities in 24 countries on six continents
Shell Royal Dutch Shell   X The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies has grown out of an alliance made in 1907 between Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company
Denso     X A global supplier of advanced technology, systems and components, DENSO serves all the world's major automakers.
Champion Federal-Mogel   X 150 plants in 24 countries
Rumored potential New Sponsors/Manufacturers USA Only Global Comments
Eli Lilly Lilly   X Lilly is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry. The company employs more than 35,000 people worldwide and markets its medicines in 159 countries.
Audi cars Audi   X Sells cars worldwide
Fiat/Ferrari Fiat   X Sells cars worldwide
Maserati/Fiat Fiat   X Cars sold worldwide
Numerous more once CART declares itself a true global series

The conclusion I draw from the above analysis is simple - the vast majority of CART's sponsors are in some way, shape or form selling products globally.  If CART were to declare itself a global company in a strong, vigorous way, it would not only attract more new sponsors, it's existing sponsors would be well served.

Certainly some of the companies might want to change what 'brand' they have on the side of the car, but for the most part the brands they are already advertising through CART racing are recognized and sold worldwide.

There is, however, one small hurdle.  Because existing budgets largely come out of US marketing/advertising budgets, the USA arm/subsidiary of a larger company is going to have to bring together other subsidiaries to chip in and contribute to the sponsorship deal.......because they are indeed benefiting from CART's global presence.  It's up to CART's Rich Henley and Joe Heitzler to help the existing sponsors understand that CART's future is a global one, and they must start thinking 'global' when putting together their sponsorship package.  Should CART change overnight?  Perhaps, but it's best they take one strategic step at a time, for CART itself, in many respects, has to reinvent itself into a global-thinking, global-operating, company.

As Steven Levinson recently wrote on these pages, Sponsors like Motorola, Shell, Texaco (and most others above) who have global perspectives have also seen that CART can be a viable marketing and advertising vehicle to project their names on the "Global Market". I think that Honda (whomever they are HONDA USA or HONDA JAPAN) knows that the 115,000 people who come to Surfer's Paradise in Australia certainly get their HONDA name all over Australia and the rest of Asia during the 4 days of Honda's CART Indy Carnival. Who cares whether or not it's HONDA USA or HONDA JAPAN. The consumer and fan "down under" only see "HONDA," and this is certainly good for HONDA. When HONDA wins in CART, do consumers in Japan, Europe, Australia or South America say, "that doesn't count, that's HONDA USA!" Of course they don't, the consumer does not differentiate, to them it's all the same.

A win by Honda endures to the benefit of the entire Honda "Brand name". The powers that be in Tokyo are pleased by any CART Honda win, as would be the Toyota Corporate heads in Tokyo. If not, why is Honda Corporate furious that HONDA has not won the CART Motegi race in Japan. They are exasperated by not winning. And Honda certainly wants to beat Toyota at Motegi, and vice-versa. Its up to Corporate Honda to assess each of their worldwide subsidiaries to do the "bookkeeping" and assess each for the total costs of the program! 

F1 sponsors pony up 10 times more for a F1 sponsorship than a CART sponsorship, yet CART has a far better on-track product.  If CART wants to start to attract new sponsors, and the really big sponsorship dollars ala F1, it's going to have to define itself as a global racing powerhouse.  Enough of this "we are an American Series that sometimes races globally"!  The statement should be "we are an international world series, based in North America"!

Should CART be racing in China?  Yesterday!  And Italy?  Tomorrow!  The future is global my friends. There's a reason why the world below is green like money.  It's even partially peeled off, there for CART's taking.

Think Big!

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article


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