Sponsors pump up Danica-mania

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Sponsors of Danica Patrick, who became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race with her Indy Racing League victory in Japan Saturday, have been quick to capitalize on the exposure.

AirTran Airlines quickly put huge photos of Patrick on two Boeing jets flying from Orlando to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh to Atlanta today, and dubbed this AirTranica Day. Further promotions will come throughout the week, AirTran officials said, and likely through May leading up to the Indianapolis 500. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that AirTran is one of the first sponsors to aggressively market Patrick’s triumph. AirTran has been an ardent Patrick supporter, and earlier this year, rolled out Danica look-alikes to speed customers through check-in at LaGuardia Airport.

The Danica Pit Crew stunt was used to kick off AirTran’s Indy Racing League promotion in February. Through the promotion, AirTran is sending racing fanatics to select IRL races throughout the 2008 season.

AirTran isn’t the only sponsor speeding up its Patrick-centric marketing.

Motorola is contemplating its next move, but sports marketers said the cellular phone giant will likely utilize an image of Patrick using a Motorola phone from victory lane in Japan to call her sister back in the U.S. to tell her of the historical victory.

GoDaddy.com, a Web site domain name registry, already changed its Web site to celebrate Patrick’s victory and the company’s affiliation with the Andretti Green Racing driver. GoDaddy anticipates rolling out more Patrick related marketing initiatives in the following days and weeks. The company, ironically, just rolled out a TV ad featuring Patrick helping a little girl beat numerous boy go-kart racers. And GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons plans to put a special video commemorating Patrick’s victory on his blog later today.

“For us, there was never a question of if Danica could when—we believed in her from day one,” Parsons said.

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