October 6, 2017 / By Trisha Pena
The NASCAR playoffs are well underway which means the sport’s top drivers are battling it out on the track for the championship title while sponsors are head to head leveraging the benefits of regular season success off the track.
It’s no secret that earning a coveted spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs rewards sponsors with bonus exposure that may not have been received if a driver didn’t make the playoff cut. Because NASCAR playoffs compete for consumer mindshare with MLB playoffs and NFL, NHL and NBA season kick-offs, amongst other things, relying on TV and traditional marketing is a challenge when other sports are in the offseason or not in the spotlight.
Now more than ever, breakthrough content, authentic communications, non-traditional social executions and smart, targeted engagement is the only way to generate impactful results with the hardcore fan. It’s even more critical when cultivating the next-generation fan.
After regaining control of its digital and social rights from Turner Sports in 2013, NASCAR began shifting away from massive marketing campaigns around 30-second TV spots. And brands who have an edge on engaging consumers on social have followed suit.
All sponsors associated with a driver in the playoffs have the opportunity to leverage the spotlight that shines from being part of a championship-contending team. Sponsors should especially capitalize at the beginning of the playoffs since the team’s fate isn’t guaranteed for the season finale. The window for added exposure and fan engagement can be narrow so planning should begin in the lead up to the playoffs, whether a driver has qualified or is on the bubble.
Brands have assets through their NASCAR team partnerships to execute scalable social media campaigns that deliver against brand objectives when the buzz around the sport is at its peak. For example, if Jimmie Johnson wins the championship in 2017, he will be the first driver in the history of NASCAR to be crowned champion eight times.
As one of a few full-season sponsors left in the sport that is paired with one of the top drivers, the opportunities are endless to create engaging, product-driven social content that aligns with the company’s overarching business goals. Lowe’s, the primary sponsor of Johnson’s No. 48 team, can use this platform to dial up its social media marketing efforts like driving NASCAR fans to Lowe’s point of purchase, or cross-promoting with other corporate marketing campaigns. Last year, the company leveraged the hype around the No. 48 team chasing its seventh championship and developed a timely social strategy that began at the start of the playoffs to get fans revved up and support Johnson in his quest for #Se7en. The campaign concluded in a best-case scenario as the Lowe’s Racing team ultimately claimed the championship title.