NASCAR to create an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) department
Following a comprehensive review of its communications function and public relations activity across the industry, NASCAR announced today that it will move immediately to create an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) department that will better position the sanctioning body to lead best practices and provide overall thought leadership in the communications space for the entire industry.
“Our sport has unique challenges and very diverse constituencies and it has become clear that NASCAR must be a catalyst in this space to help all stakeholders find greater value,” said Brian France, NASCAR’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“This is a major investment for the company at a critical time and represents an elevation of this highly-important function for NASCAR and the industry. We are confident this evolved approach will yield immediate and long-term value for NASCAR, its media and business partners and the industry as a whole.”
The new communications structure will allow NASCAR to be even more effective on the competition aspects of the sport, an area where NASCAR was regularly cited in the review as being among the best when compared to other major league sports by media in all genres. It also positions the sanctioning body to take a much more strategic and offensive approach to selling the sport in a constantly-evolving traditional, digital and social media landscape. Three areas that will see greater communications resourcing and organizational focus moving forward include: brand and consumer marketing; digital and social media strategy and activation; and strategic collaboration with industry stakeholders.
NASCAR IMC will be led by a Chief Communications Officer (CCO) who will become part of the senior leadership team, reporting directly to NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, with a direct line to Brian France. A global search, led by Korn/Ferry International, to identify and secure top-level talent to fill the CCO position and other critical roles within the planned IMC structure is under way. It is expected the leadership of NASCAR IMC will have broad consumer marketing communications experience with global brands, strong familiarity with integrated marketing communications and, preferably, deep experience in sports and entertainment marketing.
Current Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter will continue to play a significant role in this evolution. NASCAR expects Hunter’s valuable experience and insight into the inner workings of the sport to continue to be important assets not only in this transition, but also to the new CCO for years to come. At the end of this season, Hunter will assume a new role as Vice President of Special Projects.
Managing Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston has elected not to pursue a role within the new structure, but Poston will continue to lead the department on a day-to-day basis through the balance of 2010. He will then move into a consulting role for the sanctioning body.
“As the communications review accurately revealed, Jim and Ramsey have done a fantastic job of moving the competition aspects of our operation to an elite level,” said Phelps. “The strong foundation they’ve built has positioned NASCAR to expand this operation to meet the needs of the future and we are confident their combined experience, expertise and passion for NASCAR will be strong assets in that process.”
NASCAR also has retained Taylor to provide on-going strategic counsel throughout this process. That engagement will be led by Taylor Managing Partner Brett Jewkes, who has deep experience with NASCAR, in the sport and working with top brands that operate with an IMC model.
It is anticipated the framework of the department and new leadership team will be in place by the start of the 2011 season with implementation of the new structure and approach accelerating throughout the balance of 2010.