February 13, 2011: The economy is still challenged and marketing nationwide is still adjusting to the ebb and flow of the monetary tides. But with the 2011 auto racing season upon us and Nascar's "Super Bowl," the Daytona 500 coming up on Feb. 20, marketing and sponsorship spending in the industry is showing some healthy signs of life.
In 2011, North American-based companies will spend an estimated $3.51 billion to sponsor teams, tracks and sanctioning bodies this year, up 4.2% from $3.37 billion spent in 2010, according to the IEG Sponsorship Report from Chicago-based marketing and consulting firm IEG.
This would be the second consecutive season of spending rise for the sport following a 2.1% increase in 2010, which came on the heels of a 6% decline from 2009 to 2010.
However, the increase in motorsports-related spending is still behind what IEG says is a 5.9% increase in overall sponsorship spending and 6.1% growth for all sports properties.
“Without a doubt, the tide has turned in terms of corporate interest in motorsports. Although it’s still a difficult sales environment, corporate purse strings have significantly loosened as compared to the last several years,” William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report senior editor, said in a statement.
According to Chipps, with the exception of several new deals with the Izod IndyCar Series, most recent activity has occurred at the team and track level, not with sanctioning bodies.
Among the deals for the upcoming season highlighted by IEG are Penske Racing's new sponsors and expanded deals with existing partners. New partners include Coca-Cola, GuidePoint Systems, Meijer, Shell Oil and Kimberly-Clark division Wypall Wipers.
Other notable deals at the team level include AARP's primary sponsor for 22 races a year of Hendrick Motorsports’ Nascar Sprint Cup Series entry driven by Jeff Gordon with a "Drive to End Hunger" initiative; truck manufacturer Navistar International's multiyear partnership with Roush Fenway Racing and Stanley Black & Decker/s renewal with Richard Petty Motorsports.
"Although it’s still a difficult sales environment, corporate purse strings have significantly loosened as compared to the last several years."
At the track level, Lowe’s will title the March 6 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on behalf of its Kobalt Tools brand, while Performance Enhancing Meat Snack this year will kick off a full season with Int’l Speedway Corp.’s tracks — as well as Richard Petty Motorsports —o n behalf of its caffeinated Perky Jerky meat snack.
Among sanctioning bodies, the Izod IndyCar Series has signed new partnerships for 2011 that include wholesale insurance marketer Global Corporate Alliance and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's Sheraton brand. However, Nascar and the NHRA "have not announced any significant league-wide deals" as yet, according to IEG.