We are pleased to serve as the primary source of sponsorship information and analysis for news media around the globe. Our current annoucements and news releases are viewable through the links below.

NASCAR Sponsors Share Marketing Ride

Sun-Sentinel, November 20, 2010

By: Sarah Talalay

Fans of NASCAR know drivers by their sponsors.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Denny Hamlin drives the FedEx Toyota. Second-place driver Jimmie Johnson, who hopes to best Hamlin for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, drives the Lowe's Chevrolet.

But in a sputtering economy when sponsorship dollars have been harder to come by, fans may not be able to identify drivers so easily. Increasingly, companies are splitting sponsorships and the race cars show it.

For the past two seasons, Boca Raton-based Office Depot and Old Spice have shared primary sponsorship of Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet. While both companies' names and logos appear on the car each week, Office Depot is on the hood for 22 races, including Sunday's; Old Spice for 14.

Next year Office Depot will have 22 races and Mobil 1 - which is replacing Old Spice - will get the primary position for 11 races. Miami-based Burger King will be the primary sponsor for two.

"I think it's a positive," said Stewart, who ranks ninth in the Sprint Cup standings and until 2009 drove the orange No. 20 Home Depot car. "It shows even with the tough economy, corporate America has not shied away from the value of NASCAR."

In 2009, motorsports reported its first-ever decline in sponsorship dollars spent, down 6 percent to $3.3 billion from $3.5 billion, according to IEG Sponsorship Report. This year, a slight increase is predicted, a 2.1 percent bump to $3.37 billion, said Jim Andrews, IEG editorial director.

"We saw a slight rebound for some companies with the brightening economy, but in general, the spending is coming from a far greater number of companies than in past years," Andrews said. "Whereas in the past a team may have had 15 sponsors to make its sponsorship revenue goal, it now might have twice that number to make the same amount of money."

With full-car sponsorships costing as much as $20 million a year, businesses that share get a break while still getting exposure to the sport's 75 million fans. The companies also can develop joint marketing and promotional programs.

Mobil 1, which has been a NASCAR sponsor for years, is an Office Depot customer and, according to Jeff Herbert, senior vice president of marketing for the office products retailer, the two companies' customers are similar. Both have customer loyalty programs that provide discounts, so they might tailor offers for both programs, Herbert said.

"We won't be putting gas stations up or selling oil in our stores today, but we can certainly talk to Mobil 1 about opportunities," Herbert said.

Sharing the cost of direct mail, promotions and entertaining customers at tracks combined with Stewart's ability to increase sales means Office Depot makes back its investment more quickly, Herbert said.

Stewart-Haas Racing, which owns Stewart's car, calls the Office Depot-Mobil 1 model "Alpha-Bravo" because of the way companies switch positions on the car. Stewart-Haas also owns Ryan Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet, which is sponsored by the U.S. Army, but on certain weekends, Haas Automation or Tornados snack foods take primary coverage of the car.

"We're creating efficiencies," said Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing. "I think the sport is evolving. There are less sponsors that are spending the full amount."

The toughest part of having multiple sponsors seems to be finding time for drivers to meet their commitments to each company. Stewart, for example, has shot advertising for Burger King and makes stops at Office Depot locations to give out backpacks filled with school supplies to needy kids. In the past, he might set aside one or two days for photo shoots, but with more companies, that number multiplies.

"That's where it gets a little more difficult," Stewart said, "this year, there are five days of photos shoots."