CDW, a large retailer of computers, components,
software, and electronics, chose
Champ Car as one of its primary platforms to market itself and
to develop better relationships with its customers. On Saturday
in Toronto I had the opportunity to meet with Bruce Delahorne,
who is the senior manager of national advertising, and learn
more about why CDW is activating their sponsorship with Champ
Car while other sponsors fail to 'get it.'
MARK CIPOLLONI:Bruce, thank you for taking the time to be with
BRUCE DELAHORNE: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
CIPOLLONI: I've observed CDW doing more in this paddock in terms
of a sponsor than anybody else, yet you're new to the sport.
Tell us how you got involved, how this all came about and why.
DELAHORNE: We really got involved with Champ Car as an
opportunity for us to extend what we are doing in a lot of the
rest of our national advertising to try to build awareness of
CDW and our product offering, our service offering, to business
customers. We have struggled with getting our story out and have
had a very active program in a lot of other kinds of
After doing a bit of analysis and being pitched quite
effectively by Henry Rischitelli and the rest of the RuSPORT
team, we understand that advertising and marketing, via a
sponsorship in Champ Car, was a very efficient way for us to
reach people who we know from other work are excellent
customers, excellent prospects for our business. I must also
give proper credit to Champ Car for their aid and guidance in
helping us get off to a good start. They deserve a share of the
credit for the strong start we've made.
For us, it was a very logical and rational way to do a better
job of speaking to the right prospects.
CIPOLLONI: Your company sells technology products, computer
technology products. Why racing?
DELAHORNE: Well, I think that there's a lot of inherent benefit
that we offer to customers. We are very well organized to try to
deliver product and service to them very quickly. And for us,
the essential connection was that with the sense of urgency we
try to bring to our customers is essential to racing, and we saw
a great connection, a great match-up in that way. It was a great
way to extend and emphasize what we're trying to do.
CIPOLLONI: What kinds of things are you
doing to activate the sponsorship? There are some sponsors we've seen in racing come in
and put their names on the side of a car and that's all they do,
whereas you seem to be doing a lot more.
DELAHORNE: Well, I think we are doing a lot more. I think one of
the things that we're doing is to really try to emphasize that
for us this sponsorship is not just putting our name on the side
of the car. We have approached working with RuSPORT as a small
business, which in essence they are, according to the way we
would categorize them.
We have worked with them to help analyze how do they use
technology to accomplish their business objectives. In this case
it's to make the car go faster and win races. So our field
engineers worked with them, went to races to see how they use
technology right at the point of the track, how they use
technology back at the race shop, and made a series of
recommendations for things they could do differently and better,
some of them might seem simple, others were much more
complicated and complex, to help them do a better job with the
car and with winning races. So that has been one essential
CDW's RuSPORT Lola Ford LAT for Champ Car
The other is that we've tried to do those things that we think
that a racing sponsorship can do to help us do a better job
talking to our prospects and our customers so we're advertising
in the Champ Car broadcasts, we're bringing a lot of customers
who are local to the race, to the race to get an inside view of
In many cases,
these are people who aren't in advance race fans, but they're
good customers of ours and they're willing to attend a race. I
think they get turned into race fans when they not only see the
excitement of the racing itself, but they end up seeing the
involvement that we have with the team and with the car and get
a better sense of how important the technology is as a part of
That's really one of the things I think that led us to being
interested in being in Champ Car as opposed to many of the other
race series, is that there is a higher level of technology that
gets employed into setting the cars up and making them go fast.
CIPOLLONI: We've seen in F1 and NASCAR the drivers featured in
advertising a lot, with the cars that sponsor those teams or
drivers. I think I've seen you doing some of that with Justin
Wilson, is that correct?
DELAHORNE: We have done some things with Justin. He's a
wonderful spokesperson, very appealing character. We have ads
ready to run as soon as we get back up on the top step of the
podium again. We've used Justin and some other aspects of the
race team in some catalog work that we've done and some direct
mail pieces and some other things that we're doing online. We
have an extensive section on our
website now about our racing
involvement, and it gives us a chance to tell the story of how
we're working with RuSPORT.
So I think that we have -- for us, the activation aspect of the
sponsorship has seemed to us like we're not doing anything in
excess of what we should be doing. We wish in many ways, you
know, we were able to do more. But I think we're trying to
approach this with a learning perspective and saying, okay, we
want to continue to do a little bit better and a little bit
more. It feels like we're learning with every race.
CDW's driver Justin Wilson LAT for Champ Car
CIPOLLONI: One of the things I've commented on over the years is
that NASCAR and F1 have been able to make heroes out of their
drivers by getting the drivers out there in front of the public
on TV and in print ads and so forth. We don't see too much of
that in Champ Car. I feel their TV ratings are suffering because
the drivers are not what I term heroes because of the sponsors
not being on board with the big picture and understanding their
role, not only in bringing money to the sport, but by making the
driver popular, that drives TV ratings, which in turn drives
exposure for their product.
NASCAR seems to get that. F1 seems
to get that. Some of the other series still have to get there.
So I think what you're doing, what I see so far what you're
doing is definitely more than others. For being your first year,
it's fantastic from my perspective.
DELAHORNE: Well, thank you, I appreciate that. And I think that
we would like to be able to do some more and we have plans for
our involvement for going forward this year and next year to
increase and broaden what we're doing. I think there's clearly
an opportunity for us to do some more in making Justin a more
publicly well-known figure. He'll turn himself into a hero
without any help from us.
CIPOLLONI: Winning races will help that.
DELAHORNE: It will help, exactly. And I think that, you know,
he's clearly one of the finest drivers in the series. You know,
in short order, he'll be on the top step, and people will learn
more about him.
CIPOLLONI: Very good. I wish you a lot of luck with your
DELAHORNE: Thank you.
CIPOLLONI: Hopefully it's long-term. I thank you very much for
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