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Nationwide to terminate NASCAR Series Title Sponsorship
Nationwide Insurance will exit its title sponsorship of NASCAR's secondary series following the '14 season, but the company plans to increase its spending in the sport by sponsoring a Sprint Cup team, buying media, cutting track deals and maintaining its position as NASCAR's official insurer. Nationwide is in the sixth year of a seven-year series title sponsorship. The title rights and media package cost approximately $8M a year. Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius said the deal, which was signed in '07, had helped the company expand its business and earn the respect and trust of avid NASCAR fans. By increasing its sponsorship in the Sprint Cup, where it currently sponsors Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and continuing to endorse and feature Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in advertising during Cup races, he hopes the company can expand brand awareness with casual NASCAR fans.

Jauchius said, "Being a series sponsor was the right thing at that particular time but we see Sundays (for Cup races) as the next step. You'll see us lean into this even more at the Cup level. ... I will spend more money in 2014 and 2015 (in NASCAR) by shifting assets around a bit." NASCAR plans to begin searching for a new title sponsor immediately. That effort will be led by Chief Sales Officer Jim O'Connell.

Jauchius compared Nationwide's shift in strategy to what the company did in golf. After years of title sponsoring golf's secondary tour, the company ended the deal and became the title sponsor of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament. It increased its advertising on CBS around the tour, and Jauchius said the company's analysis showed the move "worked well." He added, "We see this as the exact same strategy in NASCAR." Nationwide contractually had to make a decision about the future of its title sponsorship this month. Jauchius said that NASCAR's new TV deals with Fox and NBC, which will shift the Nationwide Series from the more-widely distributed ESPN to FS1 and NBCSN, did not affect the company's decision. Nationwide plans to advertise with both broadcasters in the future. Tripp Mickle, SportsBusinessDaily

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