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Will AT&T be able to stay in Cup Series? AT&T won't be able to sponsor the No. 31 Sprint Cup car of Jeff Burton next year, but that doesn't mean it will be nowhere to be seen around NASCAR tracks.
The company is still weighing its options on how to market to NASCAR fans without having its logos on a car. As part of a settlement of a lawsuit against NASCAR over the sponsorship and whether it could change logos on the car from Cingular to AT&T, AT&T agreed to cease its Richard Childress Racing sponsorship at the end of 2008.
“Obviously having to step away from the Cup Series, we’ve been approached by every other racing circuit out there – teams, drivers, racing leagues,” said Tim McGhee, AT&T director of national sponsorships. “We’re evaluating all of our opportunities right now.”
McGhee, speaking following a tribute to Jeff Burton’s 500th start at Auto Club Speedway, ruled out sponsoring a car in the Nationwide or the truck series.
“If we were going to continue down that path, we’d stay with Richard,” McGhee said. “We really don’t want to be in the Nationwide or the truck series now. As the premier brand, we would want to be associated with the premier series within NASCAR, not to say anything against the other two.”
AT&T has spent significant money on advertising as well as sponsoring segments on the Sprint Cup telecasts.
“We can’t do anything at the track, but we’re going through our 2009 media planning, and we did a significant media buy on Fox, TNT, ABC, ESPN [this year],” McGhee said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we retained a presence on the broadcast because it does deliver a very desirable audience to us.”
The sponsorship controversy sprouted after NASCAR signed a 10-year deal worth approximately $750 million for Nextel to sponsor the Cup series beginning in 2004. As part of that deal, NASCAR granted Nextel (now Sprint) exclusivity but grandfathered in existing team sponsorships with their existing brands. Scenedaily.com
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