Nascar’s Daytona 500 – the annual orgy of fast cars, loud noise and Busch Beer in sun-soaked Florida. A place that marries race passion with people watching, love of country to love of car. From a brand marketing consideration, it represents one of the largest engagement opportunities with a fan base across all categories of sport. But all is not as it seems…
Challenges Like Never Before
NASCAR has a challenge ahead that focuses on engaging and drawing in a younger audience. The cherished millennial influx to the sport is not only a strategic aspiration, but a lifeblood measure. NASCAR has signed a recent long term deal with Monster Energy Drink to target the 18 to 34 year old segment. They will undoubtedly leverage their action sport and scantily clad models approach to pull in eyeballs and interest. But is it enough?
Consider, the number of spectators watching in-person at races has fallen. The three publicly traded companies that operate all but two of the 23 tracks on the schedule report a decline in admission revenue from 2010-2015. Dover Motorsports Inc. suffered a 51 percent decline, Speedway Motorsports Inc. a 28 percent decline, and International Speedway Corp., a 19 percent decline. Further, those that are attending are generally outside of the 18 to 34 year old range. This presents a new struggle to what has been widely considered the sports property with the most passionate and loyal fanbase.
Add in that NASCAR has the least fans making more than $100k every year, with only 14% of the fan base at this wage level. And 94% of their fan base being Caucasian/White.
A Different Approach
NASCAR has long maintained a different approach. One that creates intimate experiences for the fan. From cozy, sit down chats with drivers (in some cases, only hours before the biggest race of the season), to a focus on the sponsor (as in…the # 88 Nationwide car), NASCAR has long been progressive at building value for the fan and corporate partner. Corporate partners, keen on exploiting this closeness to the fan, have upped their game on-site at the races.
Enter Monster, an edgy brand that NASCAR officials (hope) will connect Millennials to the sport. Monster, signing a reportedly 2 year, $20 million deal to title sponsor the NASCAR season series, will deploy a similar strategy with NASCAR as with other properties by supporting athletes ages 13-21 in moto, bike, skate, surf, snow, ski and wake. It is this younger, edgier marketing focus that NASCAR officials will infuse new enthusiasm for the sport.
Build the Bond
New introduction of technology has augmented the formation of relationship and communication with the fan. Metric capturing opportunities and processes abound at every sponsor display. Consider just two years ago, Budweiser provided a beer garden for fans to purchase suds and lounge around. Now, Busch beer captures data, encourages fans to socially post content, offers branded posters, and entices fans to try their luck in a shooting range experience. Coca-Cola, no longer content with simply sampling their beverages, now offers fans the opportunity to create a custom digital driver version of themselves.
Tech like Virtual Reality, gamification, and photo/video content creation abound. A new Daytona fan app was rolled out last year. Endless opportunities to enter sweepstakes, perform skills challenges and collect premiums are around every trailer.
Digital engagement, and the resulting measurable social media impact, will drive awareness, opinion and consideration moving forward for the NASCAR brand. The results from the past few years are impressive:
NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views.
NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500, under the aegis of “Snapchat Live Story.”
The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled. (source: NASCAR.com)