If you are a fan of the Nascar Sprint Cup Series then you already know the struggles many teams are having trying to secure enough sponsorship to race next season. The cost to field a competitive team each week exceeds $15million a year. That is alot of money to try to convince a major company to invest, especially with the economy so unsure. The strange side to all of this is Nascar doesn’t seem to be hurting at all in attracting corporate sponsorship.
As a true Nascar fan you tune into the qualifying show, whether it is on Speed Channel or ESPN, to see who will sit on the pole and where your favorite driver will start in the race. What you also see is a parade of cars who are unsponsored just trying to make the field and earn some money to invest back into the team. While watching this you are bombarded with commercials, signs in the background, and announcements of all kinds of items as Official Sponsors of Nascar. The sheer volume is amazing as you listen to the commentators tell you how legends like Richard Petty or Jack Rousch are struggling to find the sponsorship to bring cars to the track.
The most amazing thing of all is Nascar has more Official Sponsors than the number of cars that try to qualify for a race each week. They currently list 49 on their website. A close look at the list will show that some of these corporations sponsor both individual teams as well as Nascar. Those include the Aflac sponsorship of Carl Edwards and the Old Spice on Tony Stewart’s car. You also see while looking at the list several high profile companies that don’t currently sponsor a Sprint Cup team. Those include Bank of America, Cintas, Coca Cola, Coors Light, and Tylenol.
There could be many reasons why these corporations choose to use their advertising dollars in the way they do. They may feel the exposure they would get as an Official Sponsor is more valuable than being on the side of a car that struggles to make the race. The one thing that is very clear is the Sprint Cup teams are in direct competition with Nascar for these sponsorship dollars. The general consensus seems to be Nascar takes care of itself first, then promotes the stories of teams struggling to find the money to race.
The most prominent example of Nascar coming first involves it’s title sponsor Sprint. The agreement Nascar made with the telecommunications giant included a provision that no other phone companies could be involved in the sport once their current contracts were up. This not only meant several high profile companies had to end their sponsorship agreements, most notably Verizon, but it now took away an entire industry from the teams in their search for sponsorship. A very healthy industry, especially in these economic times.
Nascar, the company, is wealthy beyond anyone’s imagination. They clearly don’t need all these sponsors just to survive. A stark contrast to the teams that show up every week just trying to make enough money to come back the next week. To say nothing of the drivers under contract to some of the larger teams who just can’t find enough money to put another car on the track. Maybe a compromise is in order. Maybe Nascar can make a deal with a few of these Official Sponsors to reward some of the unsponsored teams with a one race sponsorship if they make the race. The publicity the companies would garner as the announcers talked about the reward could be invaluable. Nascar fans are very loyal and also love an underdog, imagine how loyal they could be to a company who helped a struggling team compete.
The easiest solution to all of this is for the economy to improve, but in the meantime Nascar should take a good hard look at helping these teams. It’s great to have all these Official Sponsors, but how good will it look if half the field is filled with unsponsored black or white cars. Not very good. Let’s hope the smart people at Nascar don’t let that happen.