Honda, which became sole provider of the Indy V-8 engines that power the cars in the IndyCar series starting in the 2006 season, has a big marketing push on deck for this year's keystone event of the series, the Indianapolis 500. In addition to sponsoring the pre-race show on ESPN, as well as on ESPN.com, Honda has a whole fleet of print, TV, and interactive ads during the coverage.
Honda will also have a branded venue at the race. The Torrance, Calif. company has been running banners on ESPN.com all month, and will expand that to a Web site takeover on the day before the race (May 28). The company is also doing print ads and custom creative around Indy 500 editorial content in Road & Track and Sports Illustrated, plus a full-page USA Today ad in Indy editorial this week.
The TV advertising program includes two new TV spots directed to regional spot buys -- one of which promotes the Fastest Seat in Sports sweepstakes and the other promoting the Civic Racing Style Sweepstakes, a cross-promoted event with Macy's and Izod. Honda dealers are also doing point-of-purchase elements to promote the sweepstakes. The efforts are via long-time AOR Santa Monica, Calif.-based RPA.
The company ran two campaigns during last year's 94th Indianapolis 500 that touted Honda as the single engine supplier to IndyCar. The ads promote both Honda and its Honda Performance Development arm in Santa Clarita, Calif. In addition to being the engine supplier to IndyCar, HPD also develops the engine technology for sibling Acura engines in the 2009 American Le Mans Series. Next year Chevrolet comes back to Indy and Lotus enters the series as well. That means that in 2012, both Chevrolet and Honda will develop engines for the series.