Coke Is It For Daytona 500's 50th Anniversary

Coca-Cola will help Nascar and the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) promote the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 now that it has officially replaced PepsiCo as exclusive pour at that race venue and 500 others.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has inked a 10-year deal, starting next year, that makes it the "Official Soda," "Official Sparkling Beverage" and "Official Water" at: Daytona's Nascar Nextel Cup and Busch series races; Chicagoland Speedway; Homestead-Miami Speedway; Kansas Speedway; Michigan International Speedway and Richmond International Raceway; and then Darlington Raceway in 2009, Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International in 2011 and Phoenix International Raceway in 2012.

Under the new agreement, only Coca-Cola beverages will be served at the tracks. And Coke will also be poured at the "Daytona 500 Experience," a year-round exhibition at the track.

"They will be a big presence at tracks, including signage, displays and interactive events," says Lenny Santiago, an ISC spokesperson, who adds that the at-venue vector of the deal will be similar to PepsiCo's. In its 49-year sponsorship, Pepsi hosted concerts at ISC tracks and had title sponsorship of the Pepsi 400 race this month.



Next year, that race will have a new name based on a Coca-Cola brand. Santiago says Coke's deal with ISC is also similar in scope to deals with other partners, such as Home Depot, which is official home retailer of ISC. Home Depot gets signage on and off track and a huge display area. Gatorade sponsors all victory lanes. ISC also has similar agreements with Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson says Coke will be able to use the names of tracks at which it has title sponsorship of races in its own marketing. Coke also gets to be exclusive soda advertiser at races where it's also title sponsor, such as the Coca Cola 600 at the Lowe's Speedway.

"From the bigger perspective, it gives us more tools to activate what amounts to the longest season [February to November] for any major sport," she says. "And, we had gap, as well, in terms of marketing locally. This gives us continuity, flexibility and more opportunity for local bottlers."

The deal with ISC gives Coke near-ubiquity in Nascar, since it already has a similar relationship with the other major speedway holding and management company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., as well as with four independent tracks, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Coke also sponsors 12 Nascar drivers.

Santiago says Coke's arrangement will differ from Pepsi's in one critical respect: For ISC, the real payoff, says Santiago, will come with Coke's national support of next year's 50th anniversary running of the Daytona 500, by far the best-known Nascar race.

The Daytona 500 happens around the time of the Super Bowl, with which Pepsi has a sponsorship arrangement as part of its NFL sponsorship. "What we are looking forward to with Coke is a more national platform around events like the Daytona 500" because Coke doesn't have simultaneous commitments to the NFL.

"We are going to make a lot of noise come February," acknowledges the Coca-Cola spokesperson.

ISC has, in fact, signed a national deal with the Kroger grocery store chain in what Santiago says will involve multi-brand promotions worth $100 million, including companies putting the 50th anniversary logo on their packaging. Those efforts start this month and run until the race next year.

The Kroger deal with Daytona International Speedway, which ISC is calling the largest in-store retail promotion in the history of Nascar, is a seven-month deal tapping some 50 brands owned by the likes of General Mills, ConAgra, Kellogg and PepsiCo. The deal involves 2,500 Kroger stores in 37 states and pulls in soft drink, snack, condiment, food and cereal brands from Hebrew National to Chips Ahoy. Brands will display "Daytona 500"-themed packaging at the grocer.

The effort, which aims to appeal to women, includes newspaper circulars, POP displays, and "2008 Daytona 500 Approaches" ads will appear on Kroger's in-store TV and radio network along with Nascar displays and special appearances by drivers.

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