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DATE News (chronologically)
03/10/13
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NASCAR sponsors swap partnerships  The clock was ticking on his speed date, but Justin Fantozzi looked cool and relaxed Friday at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Fantozzi wasn't looking for love. The Goodyear marketing manager was looking for a fruitful business relationship.

Fantozzi and representatives from 55 other companies that sponsor NASCAR sat at tables and chatted about potential partnerships at the business-to-business meet-up put on by the race league's sanctioning body.

As part of its sponsorship deals with companies, NASCAR stages these quarterly "Fuel for Business Council" sessions in hopes their sponsors will spawn business deals among themselves that they otherwise would not if they were not fellow NASCAR sponsors. NASCAR also holds business-to-business or B2B gatherings as part of race events in the San Francisco, Chicago and Miami markets.

NASCAR is the only major-league sport that offers these business gatherings for its sponsors.

"After the intellectual property, it's the next strongest asset," Norris Scott, NASCAR partnership marketing vice president, said of the value of the B2B meetings as part of a NASCAR sponsorship. Fantozzi, Goodyear's marketing manager for global race tires, for example, had face-to-face meetings with counterparts from companies such as 3M, Creative Recycling, Nationwide Insurance and ZAK Products.

Fantozzi said he used Friday's gathering of NASCAR sponsors to explore deals with green companies Creative Recycling, a company that recycles electronic equipment, and Liberty Tire Recycling.

"The potential is the idea of zero landfill," Fantozzi said.

Nationwide Insurance, which also sponsors a car race series, has used its NASCAR sponsorship to develop or enhance business relationships with fellow NASCAR sponsors Camping World; 3M; UPS; Sprint; NASCAR RV Resorts; Lionel NASCAR Collectables; Getty Images, and Turner Digital.

Nationwide uses UPS as its exclusive shipper, while UPS helps Nationwide reach potential new customers, said Jim McCoy, Nationwide director of strategic sponsorships.

Few companies use these NASCAR B2B gatherings more effectively than Ford Motor Co., which was recognized by NASCAR with the 2012 "Driving Business Award" Friday.

Ford sells thousands of vehicles to fellow NASCAR sponsors for their corporate fleets, said Tim Duerr, Ford motor sports marketing manager.

Duerr, a 35-year Ford veteran, recalled forging a sweepstakes deal with fellow NASCAR sponsor Sprint that resulted in the car company selling more than 1,000 vehicles as a result of 50,000 people Ford was able to contact through the promotion. The sweepstakes winner won a $32,000 Ford Fusion pace car, while Ford cashed in by selling the 1,000 cars, he said.

"These meetings (with other sponsors) put me in front of all these folks," Duerr said. "It's a lot easier to do business face-to-face." Business Review Journal

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