Race Team Execs Debate The Hot Topics Facing Them, Including Sponsor Costs

Race team execs from various global motorsports outlets touched on the challenges and opportunities they are facing during a Day 2 panel at the '16 Motorsports Marketing Forum. Joe Gibbs Racing President Dave Alpern revealed that sponsorship revenue still accounts for 85% of JGR's annual revenue, starkly underscoring why corporate partnerships are as integral as they are in NASCAR.

Alpern also hit on the NASCAR TV ratings topic, saying when JGR talks to sponsors, the topic "comes up all the time." He said, "It's a big deal. What I have to keep reminding our staff and partners is (a sponsor is) investing in a marketing platform. TV is a very big bucket (of that), but it's just — we haven't talked about B2B, there are a number of things. … It's on us to fill other buckets with other things that make up for that." Execs on the panel also hit on how they approach sponsorship pitches and when to bring their team owner into the mix.

NHRA team John Force Racing VP Steven Cole said, "I usually don't bring John Force in the room to meet with a potential partner. … The education process with John has been about a four- to five-year window. We were probably one of the last major motorsports teams to take in the hospitality, B2B, everything our partners are demanding. I like bringing them in the room first, and then I let John go in the room and close the deal."

Andretti Autosport CMO Doug Bresnahan, whose team competes in IndyCar, Red Bull Global Rallycross and Formula E, added that Andretti has a "legacy brand, certainly from Mario's success — that continued generationally through Michael and Marco as well. So I feel very fortunate that when I make calls, people recognize Andretti, they know it's speed, success."

SPEEDING UP TO SLOW DOWN: Chip Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta said he would like motorsports to improve on the "ironic fact that our whole business is based on speed and most of the decisions on motorsports take forever." He added, "I would take more of a test and learn philosophy. If it didn't work, apologize for it and move on. There's way too much of the same behavior happening without taking risks."

Haas F1 CMO Adam Jacobs, whose team just completed its first season in F1, said the biggest challenge for his team is that it does not "operate on a single campus … unlike a lot of other teams." Jacobs: "We have a factory in North Carolina, a factory outside London, colleagues who work in Italy in partners Ferrari and Dallara — so that's spread out and I think it's our biggest challenge."

MONEY MATTERS: Panelists became animated when asked a question from the audience about whether brands need to have at least seven-figure marketing budgets to get involved in motorsports. After a number of the panelists jokingly said they would undercut each other on price to land a six-figure partnership, they addressed the topic.

Lauletta: "It's a powerful marketing platform. Forget that it's motorsports — let's talk about what it does for your business. It could be tiddlewinks. It could cost seven figures, it could cost eight figures, (but) it doesn't have to." Adam Stern/SBD

Leave a Reply