By admin | January 9, 2012
By Richard Allen
While watching the Giants vs. Falcons NFL playoff game this past Sunday I took note of the Daytona 500 promo spot run by the Fox Network during that telecast. With the big race just about six weeks away, it was not surprising that the channel set to cover the event would let viewers know of its upcoming broadcast.
Even knowing the tendency of the media to play toward trends, or try to create them, the nature of the promo was an eye opener.
As the flashy ad popped onto the screen, announcer Joe Buck proclaimed that, “Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick will highlight a full field of drivers for this year’s Daytona 500.”
Really? Danica Patrick, who will only drive a limited number of Sprint Cup races, gets mentioned over Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards or even former media darling Dale Earnhardt, Jr. She even trumps Trevor Bayne, who provided what was probably the feel good story of the racing season, if not the decade, when he won last year’s Daytona 500 for the legendary Wood Brothers in only his second Sprint Cup start.
Remember, we are talking about a driver who has never started a Sprint Cup race and has only one top-5 and three top-10 finishes in twenty-five Nationwide Series starts. She has led a total of 18 laps in NASCAR’s second series.
What seems to be happening with Danica is that the networks are spending much of their promotional time driving home the notion that she is a major story. That, in turn, will allow them to focus much of the air time on her because “she is a major story”.
I understand that it is Fox’s job to promote racing in a way that will generate the greatest interest, and hopefully, the highest ratings. But saying Danica will “highlight” the field seems a bit hopeful on their part.
I am not for or against Danica Patrick. I do realize that her doing well would be good for the sport. And I am for the betterment of the sport of auto racing. But can’t we at least let her accomplish something before trying the create her stardom?
Such overly aggrandized promotion of someone with such minor credentials is a dangerous game to play. If she succeeds then it could payoff for the network but if she struggles, viewers could be turned off quickly and permanently.
It seems as if no matter what else may happen, Danica is destined to dominate NASCAR in one way this coming season. She will get plenty of promotional mentions in 2012.
I currently have 1765 followers on Twitter. If I reach 2000 by the day of the Daytona 500 I will host a ‘Pick the Winner’ contest for that race which will pay $50 to the winner. So, if you are already on Twitter follow @RacingWithRich for a chance to win. If you’re not on Twitter come on board and join the discussion.
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