When you don't win, and TV ratings drop, sponsors flee
Nationwide Insurance will end its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports after this year, using an early out clause in its contract as the company goes through several significant changes to its business structure and executive team. This marks a big blow for HMS, as Nationwide had 20 primaries per year on Alex Bowman’s No. 88, which likely took the deal into the eight figures annually. The Ohio-based company will retain a presence in NASCAR -- albeit a much smaller one -- by continuing to run PSAs featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. and hosting partners at select races next year.
After informing NASCAR in ’14 that it would end its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s secondary series after that season, Nationwide joined HMS to become a primary sponsor of the No. 88 driven by Earnhardt starting in '15. The company signed a two-year extension last year through the ’20 Cup season, but that agreement now will end early. Bowman is still signed with HMS through ’20. Nationwide also vacated its role as NASCAR’s official insurance sponsor after '17, being replaced earlier this year by Geico.
The loss is a significant one for HMS, which will need to quickly upsell with current partners and/or get out in the market to try to find a new sponsor with a hefty marketing budget. HMS has been able to overcome such losses before, as evidenced by it replacing Lowe’s last year with a full-season deal with Ally. The team has added or extended 18 partners from the start of ’18 through the early part of ’19. Sponsors that remain on the No. 88 include Axalta, Valvoline and LLumar. Adam Stern/SBD
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