Kraft Foods' Oreo and Ritz brands are pushing the pedal to the mat to maximize consumer and retailer benefits from their NASCAR sponsorships -- most recently via a sweepstakes to win a trip to a NASCAR race in the fall, take driving lessons in a real race car on a real track, and rub elbows with racers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.
Kraft, an official NASCAR sponsor since 2000, announced early this year that in addition to re-upping its official NASCAR cookie/cracker sponsorships for Oreo and Ritz for two years, it had signed with Stewart-Haas Racing to make Oreo and Ritz the official cookie/cracker sponsors of that Sprint Cup Series team.
The Stewart-Haas team, led by owner Stewart and teammate Newman, won five races in 2009 -- its first year of competition.
This year, Kraft's team sponsorship is off to a strong start, with Stewart winning the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13 (his fifth win of the race in six years), driving the #4 Oreo/Ritz Chevrolet. The race also marked the fourth time in 10 years that a team sponsored primarily by Kraft brands won, according to Michael Tilley, category manager of consumer and customer engagement at Kraft Foods.
In addition to the primary team/car sponsorship for the Daytona season kickoff race, the Ritz logo will appear on Stewart's uniform and #14 Chevy Impala, and the Oreo logo on Newman's uniform and #39 Impala in Sprint Cup races through 2011. (Primary sponsors for the #14 and #39 cars are Office Depot/Old Spice and U.S. Army/Tornados /Haas Automation, respectively.)
But basic logo exposure is just the first lap. Kraft jumped on Stewart's win by posting photos of the victory celebration on the Oreo and Ritz Facebook pages -- generating thousands of views and a "thumbs up" from fans -- and will continue to post photos/videos (some of them exclusive) of Stewart and Newman throughout the season. The Stewart-Haas site and Facebook page also carried coverage of the Daytona win, of course.
In addition, both brands will be offering special seasonal packages -- actually called "NASCAR Ritz" and "NASCAR Oreo" -- through this summer (alongside standard packages of the products). The unique boxes provide additional opportunities to secure NASCAR-themed displays at retail. The backs of the special boxes (and the backs of several regular products, including Nilla Wafers and Nutter Butter cookies) will feature the new sweeps and drive consumers online to enter. The sponsorships have proven to be "extremely meaningful" platforms that enable Ritz and Oreo to connect both with both passionate and more casual NASCAR fans, says Tilley.