Today we are greeted with the news that NASCAR is now scrambling around to find a suitable title sponsor for the Busch Series to replace Busch when they leave at the end of this year.
There have been many names thrown about since the announcement that Busch would not be returning including Subway, KFC, Dunkin Donuts and Allstate. The title sponsorship for the series was rumored to be up for grabs for about 30 million dollars per year, with about a third of that being spent on marketing and promotion, including a large buy of advertising time on ESPN to go along with the race coverage.
With all the hype surrounding NASCAR and the big steps it has taken to becoming one of the biggest sports in the world it is surprising that the title sponsor has not yet been found, and rumor again is that the dollar figure is dropping almost daily, and is probably about half of the original asking price, with the media buy portion a lot smaller than it originally was.
Subway has been rumored to be the front running contender, but it appears now that the main stumbling block with their sponsorship of the series is category exclusivity. With Subway being involved in the very broad “quick service restaurant” category, and with existing car owner deals with companies like Arby’s, McDonalds and Domino’s already involved, and owners that are talking to others in the same category, it seems a deal cannot be put together.
Of course this has risen to the surface lately with all the news about the ongoing lawsuits between NASCAR, AT&T and Nextel/Sprint, and it seems Subway do not want to get involved in anything that could get as costly and time consuming as that whole mess.
Title sponsorships of this magnitude are not good for the sport. Sure NASCAR owns the sport and can do whatever it wants, but going out into the market place competing for sponsors with it’s own teams and then taking whole sponsor categories away from their teams is not a good thing, after all no matter how ignorant and out of touch NASCAR is, without the teams it has absolutely nothing, and without money there are no teams.
As we have seen in recent years team sponsorships are getting more and more difficult to find as the costs of running a team increase, and this is proven by the number of mergers with outside marketing organizations. I am sure Jack Roush did not really want to sell half of the team he has worked so hard to set up, but he could see the writing on the wall and the cost spiral moving upwards all the time, so he did what he had to do, bring in someone with extra marketing clout to make sure his team survives. Over at Evernham Motorsport it’s exactly the same story, more money needed and sponsors looking at the moves NASCAR is making and getting cold feet.
NASCAR, like all organizations has become a huge corporation, with huge facilities and large numbers of people to support. It’s needs for money are growing all the time, and noone is really sure if there are enough sponsorship dollars out there for NASCAR and the teams to have enough. Maybe it’s time for everyone to go on a cost cutting mission and diet, including NASCAR, so that it can guarantee the survival of it’s teams long term.