NASCAR PREPARES FIRST BRANDING CAMPAIGN: MEDIA VALUED AT $100 MIL PLANNED FOR '98 UNDER 'THIS IS NASCAR' TAG

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With high hopes that a slew of 50th anniversary marketing programs will boost its exposure in 1998, Nascar will launch its first-ever branding campaign Jan. 1, built on the tagline "This is Nascar."

The campaign, created by Primedia Communications, Atlanta, will run through the year.

Ads will run in all Nascar-licensed media during the 1998 racing season. Most Nascar-controlled inventory in TV, radio, print and online properties will be devoted to the branding initiative; the value of that time and space is estimated at more than $100 million.

TV IN 90 RACES

TV spots will air during the 90 race broadcasts carried by Nascar's TV partners. Spots also will air on six daily and weekly Nascar-related programs. Nascar's TV partners include ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, SpeedVision, Superstation TBS and The Nashville Network.

Nascar's other media resources include the Motor Racing Network, consisting of 600 radio affiliates; eight licensed publications; and Nascar Online (http://www.nascar.com).

The campaign will mirror the quarterly promotional calendar of Nascar's 50th anniversary marketing plan. The first quarter of the 1998 season focuses on history, then great drivers and rivalries, then the sport's close association with country music. Fans are the theme of Nascar's fourth-quarter focus.

"The image campaign is designed to capture the essence of Nascar," said Mark Johnson, Primedia's president.

"There has never been an integrating marketing effort and never a cooperative marketing effort among Nascar sponsors," noted George Pyne, VP-licensing and consumer products, who added, "We have plans to do the same thing in 1999."

NEGOTIATING ALONE

In 1998, the 20-plus sponsors and 40 licensees linked to the 50th anniversary have had to negotiate their own ad buys with Nascar media outlets. Coca-Cola Co. and General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac brand will each spend between $5 million and $10 million on Nascar TV and print media.

Also making sizable media commitments: Action Performance Products, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's Corp. and True Value Hardware.

Nascar is using the 50th anniversary to build long-term relationships with national retailers for its burgeoning consumer products business. Nascar is negotiating with J.C. Penney Co.; Kmart Corp.; Sears, Roebuck & Co.; and National Auto Parts Association's NAPA products to create 50th anniversary-concept shops.

Other, non-licensed media outlets are looking to capitalize on Nascar's 50th anniversary next year as well. Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated, for example, plans a special issue devoted to the anniversary that will hit stands Jan. 26.

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