Danica Patrick ad is just blowing smoke

July 12, 2010
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I’ve never been a huge fan of Danica Patrick’s marketing campaigns or personal brand management. From her partnership with GoDaddy to her spread in FHM, I think Patrick has made missteps from a business standpoint she may never completely realize or ever get over.

Sure, she’s arguably the most high-profile and popular IndyCar Series driver, but by casting a wider net, one that was a bit less revealing in some ways and more revealing in others, she could have done much better. For every fan she’s attracted by laying on a car in a tiny two-piece, she’s probably chased two away who didn’t think she was the type of role model they wanted for their kids—or maybe for themselves.

But Patrick’s latest lapse has nothing to do with what she’s wearing and everything to do with what she’s saying and the way she’s saying it. True, it’s an ESPN ad, but Patrick plays right into it. And anyone who follows motorsports or watches at least a little ESPN has seen it.

The ad pumps up Patrick’s participation in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but it goes about it all wrong. The ad simply rings too true—in the worst kind of way. And Patrick’s defiant voice over comes across hollow in the face of so many defeats, not to mention the lousy season she is having.

“She’s no Tony,” the ad says, using Patrick to do the voice over. “She’s no Juan Pablo,” Patrick continues.

If she’s referring to NASCAR’s Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya, I think we can all agree, Patrick is neither of those drivers. They’ve both won—on the IndyCar and NASCAR circuits. Patrick hasn’t done much on either circuit. So yes and yes, she’s no Tony or Juan Pablo.

The ad continues: “She doesn’t belong in NASCAR. She can’t handle the pressure. She’s just a marketing machine.”

Some would say to those proclamations, “check, check and check!”

In her defense, Patrick belongs in NASCAR more than some of the bottom feeders who show up week after week just to run a few laps then retire to the trailer. After all, at least she is a marketing machine. And I admit, the hype her marketing machine churns out is good for whatever series she’s in.

I have stood up for Patrick at times. I think she’s periodically a good driver when she’s focused. And she deserves to be given at least a year or two to find her way in NASCAR if she so chooses. Especially as long as someone is willing to pay her big bucks to do so. And there are times that Patrick is right in what she says. Namely, this year, when she told her IndyCar crew to get it in gear at Indianapolis.

But overall, Patrick needs to lose the defiant tone, take on a little humility, and focus on driving the car. When she does that, I think she’ll find she’s even more popular than she is today, both in the paddock and with motorsports fans.

The ESPN ad featuring Patrick concludes, “Some people love to talk, I just want to drive.” OK, Danica, that’s the smartest thing you’ve said publicly in a year.

Less talking, more driving. And a little winning wouldn’t hurt your image either.

  • Soft pron for the masses
    She's just another IRL gimmick that will fail to pan out.

    Just like the 20 tracks the IRl's been kicked off of, th3 15 years of destruction to AOW, the $644 million PLUS to get control of it, the 3.6 Indy 500 TV ratings or the 0.2 at iOWa.

    The sooner she's off to NASCAR the better for the AOW sport as a whole. You Indycentric types has reason to be upset, it's the crop that you sowed. Now, the world LAUGHS in your face at what the IRL has become.

    15 years of gimmicks have netted ZERO. Good job SPeedway management.
    • Danica
      I don't understand why she is sponsored by Classy Chassis. It's a win-win for both.
    • She's right
      She does love to drive, now she needs to learn how to race! Her ad says it all.
    • danica has good qualities
      Danica has nice "thingees"

      'nuff said
    • bunch of dummies talkin
      so, we have 35 drivers in Sprint, 35 or so in Nationwide. Out of the top 10 or 15 drivers, who the hell cares about the rest... who don't stand a chance in hell of winning because they don't have the millions that the top teams have to develop cars. And you dolts are bitching about Danica Patrick? I watch Nationwide just to watch and see if she has a chance of breaking top 10... otherwise the Cup guys dominate every time.... boring as sht without the spec on her. Same with IndyCar... boring as hell because same 4 drivers win almost every friggin event. WHY? Because they have the best cars... explain to me why a SUPERSTAR like Jimmy Johnson can win like crazy and then run in 20 some position... it is the CAR... IT IS ALWAYS THE CAR... most of the drivers are just as good as any other driver.... IT IS THE CAR.
    • Glass houses
      Hmmm, I was just re-reading a Sports Illustrated story about the dire straights NASCAR is headed for. TV ratings down 25% and dropping... Attendance down at least 10% and some places more. Long time fans feel alienated and turning their back on the sport and casual fans have seen enough.
      • Empty seats
        Just curious... Has anyone ever checked out the stands at a Nationwide race? There is NOBODY at those races. Maybe a fan every 20 or 30 seats or so. Why is that? The action is virtually identical to CUP races. They even have a lot of CUP drivers running. If you're a fan of stock car racing, why wouldn't you go see the Nationwide series? I don't get it.
      • Back Atcha
        Back - you are so right. $$ are ruining the sport. We see it over and over. nascar and the NBA are heading toward being 1/2 of what they currently are. The money is going away from those sports and they can't react fast enough to avoid falling off the cliff. Watch races disappear off the schedule and 10 NBA cities gone from the NBA within 3 years unless and until the players' salaries are cut by 25% accross the board. nascar - less hope because they can't control the sponsor $$. Too many races, too many series, too many cars (and trucks) to spread it around.

      • IRLcar Clowns
        too bad the IRLcar series sucks too much to capitalise on others' misfortunes.

        with all the trouble everyone else is having you would think the IRLcar series' situation would improve...but it's the IRLcar series... people are pulling on straws trying to find a way to revive the IndyCar Series to the glory days of CART. Unfortunately that was all destroyed the day Tony George started the IRL and ruined a good thing.
      • NASCAR Heading South
        Bsack to a regional, third-tier, sport Danica or no Danica. Ten years from now it will be such an after thought, "whatever happened too..." articles will be written about the once great, mighty NASCAR. Danica will be a sad side story. Used up and done.

        In fact, big time racing as a whole, will be gone entirely in ten years with the possible exception of the steady-as-she goes NHRA.
      • aah, who cares
        for a direct comparison between the hot dog eating contest and the IRLcar series whatever they were doing, click this link

      • Interesting thing about NASCAR is they do not feel it is the product and oversaturation that that is causing the problem, but the lack of close racing and finishes. Until they figure that out, they will continue to lose audience.

        The IRL needs to work to benefit from NASCARS ignorance.

        As far as Danica, she is making more money than all of us combined times 5, and she is more well known (the only bad pub is no pub) than any of us will ever be. Hard to beat that marketing. I would bet she has name recognition that rivals the best of NASCAR.
      • Double-edged sword
        Who would win a hot-dog eating contest in the IRL?

      • aah, who cares
        the IRlcar series lead by Brian Barnhart would find a way screw that up as well
      • Because that is what it is all about right Indyman?
        Danica is making more money and is better known than any of us. Well, there you have it. Life accomplished. She is simply better than us because she has more money and is famous. I get it now. Danica, while not a very good race car driver overall, is simply better in every way than we are because she is well, just so darn rich and people know who she is. That should be any human beings goal in life: To make lots of money and be well-known. Katy Perry makes lots of money too and is well known. Lady GaGa too. LeBron James! The actors in Twilight movies! All BETTER people we should only hope to be so good as. They are all better than the research science guy at CDC I talked to on the plane the other day who is working on virus medicines for free after hours because money is tight. Dummy. He should have given up science and raced cars or sang dumb songs about Daisy Dukes and Bikini's on top. More people know who Danica is than say Jonas Salk. And she has way more money than he ever earned. Beside, viruses only kill the little people.
      • Burl step away from the ledge, your just embarrasing yourself. When did Anthony's post, my post, or anyone's have anything to do with who is a better person? Exactly,they didn't.

        Now lets talk facts. In sports, who is the most popular athlete, the nicest one or the most known one? name the top NASCAR drivers...Tony Stewart, Jimmy Johnson, Dale (sr or jr) etc.... Now are they considered the top drivers because they are the nicest?

        I am glad you talked to someone giving back to the world, he should be commended. Jonas Salk already has been with the Nobel Peace prize. Now explain what any of that has to do with sports, this blog or the thread? Absolutley nothing. So before you decide to go off in left field, remember what we are talking here. Sports. Sports has never cured cancer, nor never claimed to. It is entertainment. Get a grip on reality before it finally slips through your fingers.

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