financial services

Nationwide Rides With Earnhardt, Jr. In New Effort

Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the scenes for Nationwide commercialNationwide Insurance is using NASCAR racing star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a new campaign launching next month. The effort includes advertising, a national NASCAR promotion, Dash 4 Cash and the NASCAR Nationwide Series ESPN Driver Pick 'Em' game.

Dash 4 Cash adds $25,000 to the winner's purse at the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Nashville Superspeedway, Kentucky Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Memphis Motorsports Park. The program also includes a $50,000 season-end bonus to the eligible driver with the highest points total over the four races.

In TV, print and radio ads, Earnhardt Jr. talks about his family's 30-year history with Nationwide, which sponsors Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team. The campaign will also involve personal appearances with Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports driver Brad Keselowski, as well as the insurance salesman who sold Earnhardt, Jr. his first policy.



A company spokesperson says the campaign, via Wunderman, N.Y., is comprised of two TV spots with the first airing Feb. 14 on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, and The Speed Channel.

The Nationwide "Driver Pick 'Em" is an interactive weekly contest on Fans can log in weekly to select the winners of 10 head-to-head match-ups for each NASCAR Nationwide Series races. The contest will include cash prizes for weekly and season-long winners.

The effort also includes a site,, which will feature behind-the-scenes videos and photos from the recent ad shoot. The final ads will be on the site mid-February.

The company said it deliberately eschewed the straight-ahead humor and dropped the tag line, "Life Comes at You Fast." "When we considered our approach for 2009, the Earnhardt family's long history with Nationwide presented us with a great opportunity to talk about how many of our customers stay with us for a lifetime," said John Aman, associate vice president of sponsorships for the Columbus, Ohio-based company.

"This is a serious time for Americans," Aman said in a release. "People are worried about the economy, their jobs, and their retirement plans--so we didn't want to make a joke. We felt like this was an opportunity to tell an honest story about a real family who has been with Nationwide for generations because they appreciate the service and value Nationwide provided. This family just happens to include some of the greatest race car drivers ever."

Nationwide's previous campaigns, including ads on the Super Bowl, have been satirical and featured the likes of Kevin Federline and Fabio. The company did its first NASCAR ad last year when it signed the sponsorship deal.

"We've had success in building buzz with Super Bowl ads in the past," Aman said. "At this point in time, we're focused on developing a deeper relationship with NASCAR's very loyal fan base as the official provider of auto, home and life insurance and through this new partnership with JR Motorsports."

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