Hard liquor sponsorships in NASCAR suddenly go dry

Four years after lifting a ban of hard liquor advertising on its cars, NASCAR's distilled spirits till is running dry. The Sprint Cup Series lost two liquor sponsors this week as Jack Daniel's (backer of Richard Childress Racing's No. 07 Chevrolet driven by Casey Mears) and Jim Beam (on the No. 7 Toyota of Robby Gordon Motorsports) announced they were leaving after the season.

Industry analysts say the moves reflect increasing competition for the sports marketing dollar in the spirits industry. CBS ended a self-imposed ban on liquor ads during this year's Grammy telecast, and more local affiliates have followed suit.

"Advertisers today are looking for bargains and with network advertising revenue off about $250 million, there are some deals out there," says H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, former president of Lowe's Motor Speedway for 33 years and now a racing consultant. "Sponsorships of quality NASCAR race cars are not perceived to be dropping."

The companies in separate statements said they weren’t dissatisfied with their NASCAR investments but sought new platforms for targeting consumers.

"Jack Daniel's has enjoyed a good five-year run with RCR and NASCAR, and we are pleased with the overall performance of our sponsorship program," said Tim Rutledge, vice president and brand director for Jack Daniel's. "While it is difficult for us to end our formal relationship, the current economic environment has compelled us to revaluate our spending, and we've concluded that other areas in the marketing mix require additional investment." USA Today

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