The Nascar marketing story is one that's often told: More than 70 companies already back the organization, its teams or both. In 1997, sponsorship revenue hit $476 million.
But Nascar and its drivers have gone their separate ways in sponsorship deals. Indeed, executives close to Nascar say many teams have been suspicious about the motives behind the racing organization's marketing programs, fearful they will leave fewer dollars for teams dependent on sponsorship.
The new New York office will try to change that, creating more cooperation between Nascar and drivers, and building the Nascar brand over the long term.
Brett Yormark, heading the New York office with the title of Nascar managing director of corporate marketing, is assembling a promotions department that not only will assist Nascar sponsors in crafting marketing programs with the organization but also help them hook up with Nascar tracks and race teams.
Previously, sponsors had to tie all those elements together themselves. Coca-Cola Co. complemented its new Nascar sponsorship with relationships with eight drivers. Visa USA will supplement an as-yet-unannounced deal with sponsorships of several tracks.
Mr. Yormark comes to Nascar from the NBA's New Jersey Nets, where he was director of sponsorship programs.
"The [new] office will be a big help," said Jim Millman, chairman of Millsport, a sports marketing agency. "Nascar is a sport that requires a specialized knowledge. For sponsors to get maximum value, they need to know the ins and outs of the sport, the promoters and the drivers."
PACKAGED WITH PROGRAMMING
Future sponsorship deals will be packaged with programming in Nascar-controlled media, ranging from online to TV. It began selling such packages with this year's 50th anniversary marketing platform, and will do so again next year with its Nascar Summer Music Festival (AA, May 25).
The new deals will include, for the first time, requirements to spend a minimum level of marketing support behind Nascar. In the past, sponsors often have spent more aggressively against their team sponsorships and sometimes nothing at all behind the Nascar mark.
"The smart rightsholder is one that becomes an agency for its clients, to service them and show them how to use your marks," said Lesa Ukman, editor of IEG Sponsorship Report. "These days, you make your money in renewals, and if rightsholders don't have the staff to make it work, sponsors aren't going to come back."