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Budweiser denies cutting back NASCAR sponsorship
In joining Richard Childress Racing next season, Budweiser will become the latest primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup to reduce its schedule. Parent company Anheuser-Busch, though, says it isn't scaling back on NASCAR even though Budweiser will not be on the car every race.

"The reduction in races doesn't mean we're going to diminish our presence," says Mark Wright, vice president of media, sports and entertainment marketing. "Not having an investment in every race allows us to do different things. We're still going to support the sport to the same degree."

Wright says the company will invest more heavily in sponsorship activation through TV advertising, sweepstakes and social media campaigns that has been successful in other sports such as baseball. The company also is considering more track promotions such as its Party Porch, a fan viewing platform (including a 277-foot sign) on the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway.

Wright says the goal is reaching the 21-to-34 demographic that has become a soft spot for NASCAR as attendance and ratings eroded in recent years.

Texas Motor Speedway is trying a similar approach. In announcing its 2011 schedule (including the first doubleheader race in Izod IndyCar Series history), Texas unveiled a new marketing plan Tuesday focused heavily on digital elements such as viral YouTube videos. The track also introduced "The Great American Sweethearts," a trio of spokeswomen modeled after the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders who will be the face of its ad campaign.

"We're trying to bridge the gap between the hard-core NASCAR fan that's a little bit older and the flat bill-wearing, Red Bull-drinking crowd that we need to grow as well," Texas president Eddie Gossage says. "They both like cars and pretty women; that's the common denominator."

Budweiser, which had backed Kasey Kahne full time the past three seasons, will adorn Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet in 20 of 36 points races (plus two exhibition events) in 2011.

Team owner Richard Childress says the car will be fully sponsored and "we've got some good stuff going on and hopefully we can announce that in the near future." USA Today

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