Indy trails in sponsor exposure race

March 4, 2008
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DarioRecently released data shows NASCAR’s Daytona 500 is still miles ahead of the Indianapolis 500 in terms of value the race delivers to sponsors. But, with the unification of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car, there is much optimism that the 2008 edition will be the most-watched Indianapolis 500 in more than a decade. The open-wheel crown jewel will have to really rev its marketing horsepower to close the gap.

A study compiled by Joyce Julius and Associates, an independent Ann Arbor, Mich.-based media research firm, concluded that Ryan Newman’s victory in this year’s Daytona 500 helped his sponsor, Alltel, receive in-broadcast exposure valued at $22.5 million, including promotional value for Alltel, Alltel Wireless and Alltel.com. Newman’s victory also earned Dodge and Dodge dealers almost $5 million and Mobil Oil about $3.8 million in exposure.

By comparison, the primary sponsor of Dario Franchitti’s winning entry at Indianapolis last year-Canadian Club-received in-broadcast exposure of $3.6 million. To be fair, the 2007 Indy 500 was rain shortened, but the gap between Indy and Daytona would not have been closed under the best weather conditions, sports marketers said. There were, however, bigger winners in sponsor exposure at Indianapolis last year, but all were well behind Alltel. Following are the top 10 at the 2007 Indy 500, according to Joyce Julius.

1.      Motorola $8.1 million
2.      NYSE Group $6.1 million
3.      Target $5.8 million
4.      7-Eleven $5.7 million
5.      Impact! $5.4 million
6.      Vonage $5 million
7.      Argent Mortgage $4.7 million
8.      Canadian Club $3.6 million
9.      Mobil 1 $2.9 million
10.    Bryant Heating & Cooling $2.6 million

 Do you think the gap will be narrowed at Indianapolis this year?
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  • Narrowed? Yes. Gone? No. Anyone who thinks that a unified series is going to suddenly regain its former luster hasn't been paying attention. Nascar has become a marketing machine, but they are also a different animal. They run 36 races per season compared to the IRL's 17. They are on television week in, week out while the IRL occasionally has back-to-back racing weekends. Drivers in Nascar are more consistent and marketed non-stop. Jeff Gordon's budget compared to Helio Castroneves' car? I bet it's quite a gap.....so you would hope those sponsors in Nascar are getting better exposure. Open wheel is going to have to make some radical changes to trump Nascar. I don't think it will happen. I think the IRL will be a stronger series than it has been, I think the Indy 500 will regain some of it's former glory, but Nascar will be the top dog in the US maybe forever. It's not bad, just different.
  • Sponsor exposure is a function of ratings--the more people watching, the greater the exposure. Few people in the industry take the dollar values seriously because they're 30-sec. TV commercial equivalents. Besides, exposure indicates number of eyeballs, not overall effectiveness. While moving the needle on TV ratings will take time, the IRL can take immediate steps to increase the value of the sponsorships right away, so even if the total value of the sponsorship doesn't equal NASCAR's because of a smaller audience, the IRL can close the gap in effectiveness. The IRL can educate fans about the role of sponsors in supporting the sport to engender sponsor loyalty. And, the IRL can work with sponsors to develop innovative sponsorship activation programs. How about the world's greatest consumer sales promotion to match the world's greatest spectacle? Sounds like fun to me.

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