Smithfield Foods Signs Deal With Fox For Unique Integrations During NASCAR Races

Smithfield sponsors the car of Aric Almirola
Smithfield sponsors the car of Aric Almirola

NASCAR team sponsor Smithfield Foods has struck an expanded, unique advertising partnership with Fox Sports that could become a template for the net moving forward — both in NASCAR and its wider sports portfolio according to Adam Stern of SportsBusinessDaily.

While it was previously running traditional 30-second ads, Virginia-based Smithfield will now work with Fox on non-traditional integrations during NASCAR programming.

This will start by Smithfield hosting Fox' daily NASCAR studio show, "RaceHub," from its headquarters next Thursday ahead of that weekend's race at nearby Richmond Int'l Raceway. This is the first time Fox has taken the studio show on the road.

The idea came from Smithfield VP/Corporate Marketing Bob Weber, who said he pushed Fox to think of unique ways to take the company from being an advertiser to a partner. Smithfield — whose spend with Fox is now well into the seven figures, according to Weber, and who sponsors Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 Ford driven by Aric Almirola — is inviting the entire town of Smithfield (population of 8,100 as of '10) to the event and planning multiple activities (like bacon-eating contests) around it.

Fox' price for a 30-second spot in NASCAR has hovered in the mid-five to low-six figure range in recent years, sources said, but how unique integrations like this factor into pricing was unclear. Fox will push the integration with a 15-second ad that will start running next week.

YEAR-ROUND COVERAGE: Smithfield last year bought another unique ad package with NBC Sports, which airs the second half of NASCAR's Cup and Xfinity Series seasons, that included integrations like aerial coverage sponsor.

Fox Exec VP/Sports Sales Neil Mulcahy noted that it became clear in the six months of negotiations with Weber that the company wanted to have its messaging out during the first half of the campaign, too.

Mulcahy added of if this will be a new model for Fox, "I think it has to be. … You always think, ‘Well you might wish for a higher rating.' What you do to compensate for that is create these other partnerships with a different set of advertisers. I see us very much moving forward to be a lot more creating content in NASCAR than the 30-second commercial."

He added with social media and "all the other things that advertisers want, that's going to be a very important part moving forward." Mulcahy: "I would never want to (say) that the 30-second commercial (is not important anymore); it gives the advertiser an opportunity to create content that sells their product. What we can do is create an association with the sport that sells the product as well; it's kind of a two-pronged approach."

Smithfield is planning to run an at-track activation for the rest of the season that will be a sort of "garage" of Richard Petty's, where his '67 Plymouth Belvedere will be on display. The company also recently struck a deal with Dover Int'l Speedway to have its No. 43 car held in the hand of the giant "Miles the Monster" statue that is in front of the venue. Adam Stern/SBD

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