IndyCar’s B2B sponsorships killing the sport

Miniscule TV ratings on NBCSN means sponsors in the IndyCar paddock have little interest in growing the sport
Minuscule TV ratings on NBCSN means sponsors in the IndyCar paddock have little interest in growing the sport

As has pointed out on numerous occasions, because its TV ratings are so low on NBCSN, IndyCar teams cannot attract sponsorship for their cars – we mean real sponsors.

The majority of the deals are business-to-business deals or ride-buyer deals. Hence the sponsors do very little in the way of TV commercials that feature the drivers – funny commercials that are memorable and make the viewer laugh.

More importantly they make the driver a household name.

IndyCar has very little to none of that, hence its drivers are not known to the vast majority of the public.

As Robin Miller writes in this article, NASCAR's Daytona 500 telecast blew IndyCar into the weeds with the green-with-envy moments – a steady stream of commercials for four hours that focused on the Sprint Cup drivers. Nationwide, Goodyear, Target, Sunoco, Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola and NASCAR itself kicked off the season with clever, funny and memorable 30- and 60-second spots.

Sunoco's Essence of Racing was a home run as Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman made engine noises and some classic faces doing it. Just think of all the kids that do that and it's such an instant connection.

For the Millennials we had Dale Earnhardt Jr. standing around the coffee break room complaining that "Steve" wouldn't friend him on Facebook. That was part of "other sides" of Junior (Boss Man Dale, Water Cooler Dale, Break Room Buddy and Animal Whisperer) ad and it played on the likeable demeanor of NASCAR's most popular driver.

"There's a lot more to Dale Jr. than driving a racecar," is a perfect mix of personality and humor mixed in with a little reality that shows why he's so accessible.
Goodyear's ad features Earnhardt and there's also a new one for him with Mountain Dew.

Denny Hamlin confronts Newman in the Coke commercial but after taking a couple swings everything is fine between them. And Danica Patrick's press conference is interrupted by her getting refreshed with Coke.

Target doesn't identify Larson in the spot that shows the little girl racing through the grocery store but obviously they think people will figure it out.

Not to be outdone was NASCAR's in-house spot called: Ready-Set-Race. It featured sisters racing to the bathroom, kids on bicycles, workers stampeding for the elevators and the everyday rat race with NASCAR action intertwined throughout.

Now we all know that IndyCar doesn't command the sponsorship of NASCAR, so there's no Coke team, no insurance, no Danica and no big time soft drink companies clamoring for any TV time with IndyCar drivers.

What we disagree with Miller on is his suggestion that Mark Miles write a check to make funny ad clips for TV. He is better off writing a check to get all IndyCar races on network TV – the rest will take care of itself.

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