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Lesser-known NASCAR drivers scramble to secure sponsors as season nears

While fans count the days to the start of the NASCAR season next month, drivers "furiously seek to complete deals with sponsors and teams," turning January into an "anxiety-inducing month of promises and pitfalls for competitors trying to secure as many races as possible this year," according to Dustin Long of NBCSPORTS.com. Driver Garrett Smithley said, "I hope one day ... I’m secure in my rides and I’m secure in my sponsorship where I can focus on the racing part. ... But, all of my spare time, as far as working on sponsorship, is geared toward trying to go racing." Smithley does a "lot of his own sponsorship searches" but is "guided by" Spire Sports + Entertainment agent Phillip Smalley. It is "still not easy to find all the funding necessarily." Smithley said, “I wish it was a little bit easier. I wish it was a little bit less stressful sometimes.” Driver Kaz Grala also has "help in finding sponsorship from Team Dillon Management," but he "does as much work as he can on his own." By the time Christmas arrived last month, Grala had engaged in "numerous conversations with sponsors and teams, but he had no Cup, Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series races 'set in stone' on his schedule." After a "flurry of calls and correspondences this month," he could "run more races in NASCAR this year than the 15 he raced the past two seasons combined" (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/14).

OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME? In Charlotte, Alex Andrejev notes driver Brandon Brown in a "lengthy, four-paragraph statement" posted yesterday on Twitter "dispelled the notion that sponsors dropped him after his Xfinity win at Talladega last year and subsequent events that thrust him into the national spotlight." Brown wrote that he had "no sponsorship deals lined up" heading into the '22 season because the contracts had "not been crafted rather than previous sponsors shying away in the wake of the rise of 'Let’s Go Brandon.'" Brown added that he "aimed to make a version of the phrase, LGB, 'positive and constructive' and 'not divisive.'" Brown also addressed why he more recently "chose to partner with LGBcoin, a cryptocurrency company whose first three letters reference the slogan and aim to capitalize on its popularity." Brown of LGBcoin’s “dream come true offer” wrote, "For anyone that knew how close we came to closing our doors at the beginning of the 2021 season, this was an opportunity of a lifetime" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/14).

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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