Nextel Cup name may stay

The merger of Nextel and Sprint will produce a company called Sprint-Nextel, but that doesn't necessarily mean the name of the Nextel Cup series will change. "No decision on that will be made probably until the August time frame,'' Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of Nextel, said Thursday. "We're going to be careful and cautious about that. We spent a lot of money building it out in the first year. The industry and fans have embraced it. So we'll study that decision carefully. The Nextel brand assets are a really important part of the merger.'' The $35 billion merger was announced in December and still has to receive approval through the regulatory process. That could take several more months. Schweitzer said decisions haven't been made on whether any Nextel and Sprint products and services will retain their current identities or receive a combination name. He pointed out that after the Exxon and Mobil oil companies merged, they kept separate brand identities for their service stations. "We're in that process of evaluating the brand equities of the two companies, and we're being open-minded and letting the research and the discussions manage the process vs. going in with an agenda.'' Schweitzer said the new company will remain committed to NASCAR and that spending on marketing should increase. "They [Sprint] spend three times what Nextel spends in advertising, so in helping build the awareness of the sport – the sponsorship certainly, but the sport more generally – that should translate into more positive investment.'' If the sponsorship name does change for 2006, it would be the second change in three years. Nextel Cup replaced Winston Cup at the start of the 2004 season. Tampa Tribune

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