This Memorial Day weekend, if your eyes can keep up, you’ll see more logos flying across your television screen than, perhaps, during any other weekend on the calendar. That’s because all told among the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 and the Monaco F1 Grand Prix — 95 or so racers with their vehicles covered in logos — will log more than 43,000 miles in high-octane competitive motorsports action.
Some of the logos on these vehicles will certainly be recognizable to viewers at home — big-name national and international consumer brands such as Lowe’s, Target, M&M’s and Coca-Cola, in addition to endemic racing and motorsport brands like Continental Tire, Goodyear, Chevy and Ford. Gaze a little longer (if you can) and you’ll start noticing a laundry list of lesser-known consumer brands, endemic sponsors and even B2B companies with seemingly little to gain from slapping a logo on Jimmie Johnson. But, that may not be the case.
The above-the-line exposure for primary sponsors might seem obvious. Combined, these three races will draw approximately 13 million viewers and countless tens (or even hundreds) of millions more impressions in press coverage globally.
Dig a little deeper and the benefits are even richer. For one, there are the incredible hospitality assets offered to partners — the unparalleled access to pit crews, drivers, suites, paddocks and garages can be leveraged as incentives for employees or to entertain prospects. Even more than that, consider the opportunities offered in-market to consumer brands. For example, a consumer-facing brand, like Charmin, may sponsor a vehicle as a way to gain, not only consumer eyeballs and impressions around that vehicle, team and driver’s success, and to leverage hospitality assets, but also for attaining B2B benefits provided by joining the racing brotherhood.
It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that to enter racing you have to be operating a pretty brisk business to begin with. It’s a prohibitively expensive sport in which to participate, likely the most expensive of any of the true, globally relevant sports. But this also affords a tremendous opportunity to the sponsors and participants. In Charmin’s case, Procter & Gamble representatives can use the network offered to them to backchannel partnerships that might offset the sponsorship costs – or even earn against them – such as working to earn the contract to provide all paper goods for NASCAR tracks.
Another excellent example of a company that mixed the B2C and B2B of its global brand flawlessly was UPS. Their NASCAR partnership once included a deal to set up a delivery point, within each race course, for each of the teams to ship goods in and out — top quality business solutions provided on-site and outstanding exposure to countless national and international corporations.
For the companies represented by the even-smaller logos, the ones you aren’t likely to catch as they make their way around the bend, there are still other benefits to getting in the race that are potentially very useful in accomplishing their business goals. Most of these brands are endemic brands that may have no consequence to anyone but industry folks and the most die-hard of the diehards. But some, like accounting firms or other business solutions, may join even at a team level with in-kind deals to net contracts with the racing teams themselves.
Other endemic opportunities may arise from team owners, like Rick Hendrick, who owns upwards of 100 car dealerships, employees over 10,000 people, and services nearly two million customers a year. Sponsorship of his vehicles can represent not only a fantastic opportunity to align with potential winners on race day but also a possible entry into a B2B partnership with a massive automotive sales enterprise. This may explain why the logos of entirely-non-consumer-facing corporations like Axalta Coating systems (auto finishes), Sun Energy (solar power solutions company), and UniFirst (work uniforms) grace the hoods of Hendrick vehicles series-wide.
Ultimately, the success of your motorsports sponsorship will be determined by how well your brand is able pull together and utilize all of the assets available to you – assets offered by drivers and teams, promoters, sanctioning bodies and the media partners – that all need to combine to work thoughtfully in unison to create an efficient, effective B2B or B2C program. So as the cars fly by the checkered flags – can you identify your favorite brands’ logos – and do you have the urge to go out and buy?