NASCAR, ESPN Team Up For New Ad Campaign Based On Varying Drivers’ “Nations”

NASCAR's latest effort to "broaden its appeal while holding on to longtime fans" is a campaign that will "portray popular drivers and their supporters as nation-states fighting for hegemony," according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES.

The campaign, "scheduled to begin this weekend, promotes a revamped 10-race playoff format" for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The effort, via Ogilvy & Mather, N.Y., includes "online content and fast-paced commercials with an intensity that suggests the theme perhaps ought to be 'Onward, NASCAR drivers, racing as to war.'"

The spots "include scenes of drivers, their teams at work on cars in garages and fans festooned in their favorite drivers’ colors and numbers." The concept "is to present the 16 drivers who will qualify for the Chase — backed by their team members, sponsors and the manufacturers of their cars — as powerful nations preparing for rounds of challenges to determine the final winners and losers."

Twelve drivers have so far "been selected to take part, among them Kurt Busch, the leader of 'Outlaw Nation,' styled after his nickname; Carl Edwards, 'Carl Nation'; Jeff Gordon, 'Gordon Nation'; and Jimmie Johnson, 'Jimmie Nation.'" This represents what NASCAR execs call the "first advertising collaboration between NASCAR and a television partner" — ESPN in this case.

A network typically "uses its own agencies or employees to create ads to promote its race coverage." Ogilvy & Mather, N.Y., President Adam Tucker hopes that the premise of "continual clashes that pit racecar titans against one another will 'stoke the passion of the intensely loyal fans and reach beyond the core to younger, more multicultural audiences'" N.Y. TIMES

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