NASCAR Pushes College Marketing Efforts

NASCAR is going on campus to recruit a new generation of potentially up-market fans. The racing circuit will look to a pair of "brand ambassadors" on 12 college campuses to host events and use other tactics in an attempt to encourage attendance at nearby tracks.

The "NASCAR U CREW" program is a joint effort with University Directories On Campus, which has on-campus marketing businesses. Each of the 12 schools is near a Sprint Cup race being held this fall, such as the University of New Hampshire and the Loudon race Sept. 25; University of Delaware and Dover on Oct. 2; and University of Miami and Florida International and Homestead on Nov. 20.

NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps stated that the "U CREW" will give "our current fans the avenue to express their passion and our future fans the vehicle to experience the sport."

In June, NASCAR said the 13 Sprint Cup races Fox carried this year led to a 20% increase in ratings for the 18-to-34 male demo to a 1.8, according to a report. That came after a discouraging 29% decline in 2010.

The ambassador duos -- each a current student -- will hold 10 events on campus, perhaps setting up booths during orientation or handing out paraphernalia at football games as well as at viewing parties. They will work with local tracks on special ticket packages, plus hospitality and tailgating on race days. The push is to promote NASCAR as offering an on-campus football tradition. Social and digital media programs are also expected.

NASCAR also operates an initiative at 20 schools that are encouraging careers in motor sports.

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