Nascar is bringing some swagger back to its marketing as it releases a new campaign to kick off the race season with the Daytona 500 this weekend.
The tag ‘I Am Nascar’ is taking pole position for Nascar’s advertising campaign as the brand looks to reclaim its sense of purpose.
“We thought this was a really good time to talk about the swagger of the brand and really sort of beat our chests a little bit and really take pride in all that is Nascar and what is unique about it,” Pete Jung, senior vice-president of marketing at Nascar, told The Drum.
The campaign comes soon after the implementation of a three-year branding effort, led by Mississippi agency Rare, to get to the heart of what the Nascar brand really is and what it means to fans and the company.
A huge brand book created by Rare and Nascar was handed to Nascar’s ad agency collective, 77 Ventures, with a different brief from the past, which had usually been based on race storylines and track action.
“We felt that this was a good moment in time for us to have a more defined rallying cry, ultimately for fans and consumers, but also for the industry and all of our stakeholder groups," said Jung. "For the first time in a few years, we have really positive momentum around the sentiment, the racing has gotten to a much better place and a lot of our business metrics have been really favorable.
“The 77 team really dug into the grit and soul of the brand…the character and the purpose. They really wanted to deliver something that got to the root and soul of the brand. That’s where we landed on the idea of ‘I Am Nascar’. When it comes to life it really is a representation of the things that make Nascar truly unique, versus other stick and ball sports, other entertainment properties, other brands around the world."
‘I Am Nascar’ is going to be the Nascar theme throughout 2020, not just in its advertising, but through content, activations and plenty of touchpoints that are rolling out this weekend at Daytona and through the first part of the season.
This is part of a more cohesive branding strategy for the stock car racing organization. It recently brought many of the Nascar tracks, including Daytona, under its wing, and it changed from a single sponsor for its main cup series to a Premier Partnership model.
Geico is sponsoring the first part of the season, called ‘Nascar Returns’, which reintroduces the sport after its winter layoff. The new campaign, which includes two action and racing personality-filled spots for the Daytona race and for the organization itself.
The Daytona spot shows action from the recent and distant past, with crashes, fast action and fan reaction. The voice-over states: “I am wide open, faster than fast, predictably unpredictable…I am the Daytona 500, I am Nascar.”
The anthem spot follows a similar tone, with phrases like “I am a year-long, furious journey…I am the Nacsar 2020 Cup Series”.
“The VO is really kind of a manifestation of what it is to be Nascar,” said Jung. “We’re really trying to flex our muscle out of the gates and that really sets the tone for the season.”
The campaign will include other executions, along with social posts, videos, films, interviews and individual track promos.
“We’ll also have executions around certain drivers, likely with Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson and probably some of our younger, up-and-coming drivers,” said Jung.
Geico’s sponsorship of ‘Nascar Returns’ will run for around six weeks, then it will launch a ‘Nascar Salutes’ portion on Talladega race weekend in April. Coca-Cola will be the presenting sponsor there. That will culminate at the Coca-Cola 600 in May.
Busch sponsors the Busch Pole Awards, which Jung said gets “tremendous exposure”, while Xfinity will keep its sponsorship of its own national series. Each partner has its own Cup Series race entitlement sponsorship as well.
As Nascar establishes its new identity and campaign, it continues to look to its fans to help mold the narrative. It has a Nascar Fan Council, comprised of 20,000 fans, who Jung says have “very strong opinions.”
“What we’ve learned over the last couple years is to be more vigilant in testing things before we put it in market," he said. "Things that tie into and play off the soul of the brand generally pass with flying colors with the fans.
"When we try to get a little clever or cute, that’s when fans (say no). When you bring in a little swagger and confidence back to the messaging, they are very receptive and positive about that."
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