October 27, 2010: Cause marketing in sports will take get a pole position with an alliance that Hendrick Motorsports and driver Jeff Gordon have formed with AARP and AARP Foundation for the Drive to End Hunger, a three-year initiative to "address the growing problem of hunger among older Americans."
Drive to End Hunger will be the majority sponsor of four-time Nascar Sprint Cup Series champion Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with primary paint schemes in 22 Sprint Cup races annually. The No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, which will be unveiled at a later date, will race in the next three Daytona 500 events.
The alliance reflects a growing category in sports, in which naming rights and lead sponsorship deals are cause-related. Among others is the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a college football game that will take place in San Francisco's AT&T Park on Jan. 9, 2011, pitting a team from the PAC-10 vs. a team from the WAC.
Gordon, who has totaled more than $50 million in career winnings, was excited to be part of what he called auto racing's first cause-driven full sponsorship. "This is a truly unique opportunity to help people, and it's a completely new, cause-driven approach to sponsorship," Gordon said in a statement. "Every single day, millions of older Americans including 6 million over the age of 60, are forced to make a choice between food, medicine and utilities. It's going to be a team effort, and it's not going to be easy, but we can solve this problem."
Gordon will be lead the spokesperson in a multi-platform effort. Activation will include engaging the Nascar fan base, corporations and charitable organizations via a text-to-donate program; activation at racetracks nationwide; encouraging and supporting further research on the causes and consequences of hunger in older Americans; and an innovative national grant program that will provide resources to address the problem at a local level.
Drive to End Hunger will build on the hunger initiative launched earlier this year by AARP Foundation, including volunteer-led food drives, individual and corporate fundraising campaigns, and online hunger resources.
"This is a truly unique opportunity to help people, and it's a completely new, cause-driven approach to sponsorship."
"Hunger is a hidden problem that millions of older Americans are battling silently. In fact, between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of seniors struggling with hunger more than doubled," Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Foundation president, said in a statement. "Nascar fans are among the most charitable, community-minded sports fans in the country, and they have a track record of commitment. With the help of Jeff and the Hendrick team, we will make the most of this unprecedented opportunity to end the struggle that so many older Americans have with hunger."
According to Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, "It's exciting to see a new organization engage with our sport and our fans through such an innovative approach. Having seen firsthand what the Nascar community is capable of accomplishing, I know the program will help a lot of people in our country who desperately need it. Success ultimately will be measured by how many lives we can impact, and that's a truly unique and special opportunity for everyone involved."