NASCAR races are the ideal venue for political advertising. First, it’s widely known that many NASCAR fans are politically conservative, which means the races present right-leaning campaigns with a great outreach opportunity. This could also be true for left-leaning campaigns that want to sway conservatives.
Secondly, it’s a sport built on the same principles nearly all candidates tout while on the campaign trail: Patriotism and traditional family values. Just watch a race’s opening ceremony. It’s one that honors our country like no other sport.
During the 2012 cycle, both presidential campaigns organized appearances at NASCAR events. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden served as grand marshals at the Ford 400 race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. During a race in Bristol, Tenn., Mitt Romney’s campaign bus set up their large campaign rig in the display area of Bristol Motor Speedway’s property. They collected data and distributed information on the Republican candidate.
It’s surprising we don’t see more candidates at the races meeting voters or that we don’t hear more political ads during commercial breaks, but perhaps that’s because media planners like me aren’t proposing these opportunities to our clients enough.
While at a NASCAR race this past April, part of my mind was on work and part of my mind was on the race. Suddenly, it came to me: “It would be so cool if our client was the grand marshal at a race hosted in the state she’s running in.”
With an eye toward executing a media campaign, here‘s some insight on NASCAR, which may help candidates who are running in states and markets hosting a race.
The NumbersThere are 75 million NASCAR fans in America, which is 1/3 of the U.S. adult population. NASCAR is the number 1 sport in Fan Brand Loyalty. NASCAR fans are three times more likely to try and purchase NASCAR supported products and services. NASCAR is the number No. 1 spectator sport. NASCAR hosts 17 of the top 20 attended sporting events in the country. (Source: Charlotte Motor Speedway)
OpportunitiesCollecting data on voters (email addresses, demographic information, etc.) Meeting Voters Distributing Information on candidate or issue
Your client could also be the grand marshal of the race (“Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines”), they could wave the green flag or even ride in the pace car.
Outdoor Advertising Opportunities: BillboardsScoring tower rotating cube Scoring tower tri-vision Turn one, three, backstretch, outside track billboards Front entrance signage Concourse banners On-track logos Infield video screens Public address announcements
Print advertising opportunities:Official souvenir program Official fan guide Ticket coupon
Digital advertising opportunities:Access to thousands of fans Access to fan database that contains over thousands of unique customers Direct mail Email blasts Customized reporting
Mandie Suits works at Smart Media Group, a Republican political media buying agency in Alexandria, Va. She is from Saint Albans, W. Va. and is a graduate of West Virginia University’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. A version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.