of us can remember those years in our youth when every time we donned
an old pair of pants or a favorite shirt it someone just didn’t seem
to fit anymore. We were growing, moving from being a child to being
a teenager, into the awkward years. Then, six years later, we grew
again, taking on the responsibilities of being an adult.
Life in the world of NASCAR racing is no different. Since it’s
inception in 1949, NASCAR has grown. Some years the growth appeared
non-existent. However, some years the growth was so huge and so
quick the sport seemed like it was busting at the seams on a daily
basis. Tracks couldn’t add enough seats; seats they now struggle to
sell. Finding a team sponsor was almost as easy as going to the bank
of the river and waiting for a fish to jump into your arms.
Those times never last. The bountiful feast can easily be picked
clean by even another spurt of huge growth.
NASCAR has never been more popular than right now. The foundation of
a regional sport has been built upon. The house resting on that
foundation is national in scope. However, there is a new house under
construction. A house that will span the globe – an international
Like those old clothes we sadly passed down to a sibling, or sold at
a garage sale as we passed out of childhood and into our teenage
years NASCAR is faced with clothing itself with newer, stronger,
Last year Gatorade decided the sport demanded more of its marketing
dollars than the company could invest in a single program.
Therefore, the company stepped back from being the “Official Sports
Beverage.” It doesn’t mean they went away. Gatorade still blankets
the sport at all of the ISC tracks and has a family of drivers who
promote their product.
Now ConocoPhillips, through their Union 76 brand, is saying they are
giving up their status as the Official Fuel of NASCAR. That decision
has nothing to do with losing interest in the sport. Companies must
be able to leverage their marketing dollars to gain the greatest
return. There are oil companies who meet the international standard
NASCAR has set for the future. A replacement will be found.
Now, to the issue of R.J. Reynolds. While it is true the lawsuits of
the past two decades have handcuffed the marketing arms of the
tobacco companies, it has not prevented them from presenting their
products to the public.
It is inevitable that as we continue to educate our children about
the dangers of smoking the number of smokers will continue to
dwindle. Yes, there will always be smokers. However, anytime a
company faces a dwindling number of consumers they also face a
dwindling bottom line.
R.J. Reynolds posted a loss in the most recent quarter. After
decades of huge profits, more money went out the door than came in.
The top executives at RJR would be remiss in their duties if they
didn’t consider cutting expenses. Moreover, yes sports marketing is
an expense. A cost of doing business that can be controlled.
Like a good partner should, the folks at RJR alerted NASCAR to their
plight. There is a five-year contract in place that RJR will honor,
however, the likelihood of that contract extending past the
five-year mark has diminished considerably. Not wishing to damage
the sport, RJR has told NASCAR to start looking for a replacement.
Go out and find a company that meet the new international standard
being set in Daytona.
This is not a divorce by any means. RJR is shrinking as NASCAR grows
bigger and those fine folks in Winston-Salem (NC) do not intend to
hold back a sport they so artfully pushed into the international
Thank you, RJR.
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