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« Demise of Rusty Wallace team illustrates the loss of purpose for the Nationwide Series | Main | What we hear(and don’t hear) may be more important than what we see in Daytona test »

Danica already set to dominate one aspect of Sprint Cup in 2012

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.

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Topics: Articles |

23 Responses to “Danica already set to dominate one aspect of Sprint Cup in 2012”

  1. Russ Says:
    January 9th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    She certainly hasn’t earned even a mention in such an ad. But if I put myself in the ad writers shoes what would I do?

    You have only a limited amount of time to set the hook as they say. Part of that is taken by the obligatory mention of last years champion. So in the remaining few seconds you have to mention the person or persons who will raise the most eyebrows.

    Unfortunately right now that is Danica and the Busch’s. But of course I could be wrong.

  2. Chris Fiegler Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I actually saw her Sprint Cup Car in the Daytona 500 Graphic.

  3. Lydia Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Ok..let me get this out first…how many ads over the years have touted Dale Earnhardt Jr? If the media was getting dollars for wins they would be deeply in the red! (I’m not a Junior hater…just sayin…). We’ve heard Jimmie Jimmie Jimmie for years (at least he put their media dollars back in the green)… But he’s sadly not a media draw! So now they have Danica…win lose or draw she’s cute, interesting, and new. She has as many wins in Cup as Junior the last 3 years, she is driving a SHR (Champion) car, has one of tge best crew chiefs in Zippy, she certainly has the passion and drive…aahhh..I see …she’s female! It seems to me it’s the male population who are finding this hard to swallow! So let her enjoy her moment in the son as all newbies do…I’m sure there will be opportunities to say told u so as the races click off !

  4. Richard Allen Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Lydia, I am going to offer a bit of a counter to your argument that Danica is disagreeable to the male population.

    Whenever I have written any sort of Danica related piece I have found just the opposite to be true in the responses I have received. And that has also been true of conversations I have had.

    I have found that she has more support among men, particularly of the over 40 crowd. And, I’ve seen great resentment toward her from women.

    I haven’t done an official poll but I would be willing to say that she has more male support than female.

  5. Brian from NY Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I have found it very interesting to see what seems to be an organized campaign by NASCAR to promote Danica. Certain writers and commentators like Larry Mac have really lost their objectivity by building up Danica like the best thing since sliced bread.

    Mrs. Patrick is much like the Kardashion family, famous for being famous. I think it’s true that if you ask the average person who Danica is they would know who she is, but I don’t believe it translates into someone who is a fan of hers. If I ask my five year old daughter who Danica is she knows that she is a race car driver, but my daughter doesn’t watch racing or even like it. She knows Danica because of the constant promotion of Danica.

    Being a fan of both IndyCar and NASCAR, I have been able to judge the feelings of “real fans” towards Danica. These are the people that actually watch the sport and follow it closely. They are the ones that can name more then one driver and have a deep appreciation for the history of the sport of racing. On TrackForum, the largest IndyCar fan forum on the web, Danica isn’t even in the top ten for favorite drivers. In fact their are more negative threads devoted to her then anyone else.

    Much of the reason why their is some much negativity towards Danica is due to the media. Fans hate when the media over hypes an athlete instead of being objective in their reporting. Among IndyCar fans their is a feeling of relief that Danica is leaving the sport. Talented and personable drivers will gain more recognition without the spotlight being hogged by Danica.

    Although being a fan of NASCAR, I will have to go through the same undeserved media hype again with Danica. When a guy like Larry Mac tells me that Reutimann (who has two wins in Sprint Cup) wasn’t getting the job done for a second rate team and third rate crew chief, but Danica is great and has the potential to be winning races then I am convinced that NASCAR must have sent out a memo to build up Danica. In time the same thing will happen in NASCAR that happened in IndyCar. Danica will struggle, her popularity will not translate into higher rating’s of better track attendance, real fans will feel resentment towards her and the media that led the cheer-leading will lose all credibility.

  6. The Mad Man Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 11:26 am

    The ads just show that NASCAR is betting the farm on Danican’t to save their bacon from Brian France’s poor leadership and bad decisions. The ads are all hype and no substance. Just like her career has been.

    Danican’t did a “wonderful” job of alienating male & female fans alike in IndyCar and even had other drivers apologizing for her actions and her potty mouth. I don’t see any changes in her in NASCAR. I’d rather have a “Plain Jane” who was fan & family friendly be the female face of NASCAR over some over-hyped, highly publicized female whose mouth would make a sailor blush.

  7. Lydia Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 11:59 am

    And there it lies! When a male races..it’s not pointed out he’s male…but look how many times when speaking or writing about Danica it is pointed out she’s female! Now we have eyes and ears…we can figure that out! It’s like she’s a female…and she has to prove herself to go from “female” to “driver”! It just goes to show how far behind most sports are when it comes to women competing!

  8. Bob Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I’m starting a pool covering when she has her first tantrum, first tears, & how long NA$CAR waits to give her a win.

  9. Bill B Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I missed the promo. I’m surprised she wasn’t in a bikini. Every ad agency knows one rule - sex sells.

    Also remember the ad wasn’t aimed at NASCAR fans, it was aimed at football fans. “Oh, maybe I’ll tune in to this NASCAR thing to see the pretty girl race”.

    My only problem with Danica is that the coverage she receives far out paces her accomplishments. You can make a similar case for Earnhardt Jr - he receives more attention then his stats support - but still, he does have decent stats. He has had success in cup. If Danica was just some guy name Dan with the same stats, I can assure you NASCAR would not be hyping them up.

    This is the media’s fault for sure but they are just manufacturing a story to fill space and grab attention. Marketing rarely depends on facts. It’s all about hype.

    I’ve always thought that Joey Logano was unfairly hyped with the “sliced bread” label. I know that turned me off when he first moved up. And when he wasn’t “the best thing since sliced bread” it just gave a lot of people who were already skeptical ammunition. It wasn’t Joey’s fault that the media played that angle up but that’s the double edged sword of being over-hyped. There is a high probability that Danica will end up in the same boat unless she has success fairly quickly.

  10. Lydia Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Why Bob I venture to guess you are one of “those” folks who believe NASCAR has given Junior all the ” breaks” in the world so he can win!?!? Funniest part if true …they sorely failed! So let’s see we’ve had newbies Tony the Terrible…Joey Sliced Bread…Kyle Rowdy Busch…Junior Son Of Earnhardt…Jeff Wonder Boy Gordon…etc etc..so nOw we have Danica the Female! It’s all just hype…let’s race!

  11. Andy Denardi Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Danica has won one race in fifteen years. One race in her professional career. Show me one male driver who has gotten this amount of hype for a record like that. Michael Waltrip is a better racer!

  12. txGreg Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    It’s simple. Who are ads for? Die-hard fans of the show (NASCAR in this case) or people who otherwise might not watch. We all know who’s in the race, when it is, and whether we’ll watch. It’s those “new eyes” that the ad wants to pull in. A non-fan might recognized Tony’s name as the defending series champion (maybe) and will almost certainly recognized Danica’s name. Who better to use? Nobody.

  13. Jeff Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I support “truth-in-advertising”. The promo should have said that “Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and beautiful driver-babe Danica Patrick will highlight a full field of drivers for this year’s Daytona 500.”

    This accurately states why this particular driver is being highlighted. There is nothing wrong with her as a driver, but we all know why she is getting the attention. And bless her for it.

  14. Dennis Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I wasn’t a Danica fan until I saw her racing Tony Kanan in the waning laps at Homestead a couple years ago. She was trying to do an outside pass lap after lap. It was high risk and wasn’t for the win but she was going for it. It was then that I realized she is a racer rather than simply someone who drives a racecar.

    Yes, she gets more coverage than her record merits. However, if you were in her place and had the opportunity to race, would you turn your back on it? With the dollars it takes to race at the elite levels, you have to be willing to do what it takes.

    Alan Kulwicki is revered for his championship and, yet, he had to do something he didn’t feel right about. He accepted the Hooters sponsorship.

    There are times where we have to make some compromises in order to live out our dreams. Danica is simply doing that and I, for one, can’t help but be a little envious.

  15. jerseygirl Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I guarantee you that if I’m watching the Daytona 500 it won’t be because Danica is driving in it.

    It would be really nice if instead of hype, the media would focus on the actual race but in the world of sensationalism, why would anyone actually do that?

  16. Bob Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Danica has 0 wins in her pro career. Motegi was an exhibition with Helio shutting his car on the last lap.

  17. Russ Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Danica actually started her career very well. She got the opportunity to go to England and race Formula Fords, where she did very well. Anybody who knows that series will tell you it is a major stepping stone for the best drivers in the world. If you were going to F1 you went thru there.

    However for some reason she choose to return to the US, compete in the IRL and we all know the story from there.

    Could she have made it in Europe? Cant say, perhaps she felt more comfortable in what she perceived to be the shallow end of the pool.

  18. Shayne Flaherty Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    The marketing machine has been running wide open and this is the best NASCAR can do?

    NASCAR will never get the age demographics they’re looking for. NEVER. I don’t care what gimmicks they try, it ain’t gonna happen.

    NASCAR needs to remember, the customer is always right. I don’t think NASCAR knows who their customers are anymore.

  19. Andy deNardi Says:
    January 10th, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    “Danica actually started her career very well. She got the opportunity to go to England and race Formula Fords, where she did very well.”

    But never won. Never one a championship either, so she wan’t a consistent top five runner. All her early races were road races, yet she finished poorly on Indycar road courses. Excluding Motegi, her last win was in a go-kart when she was 16.

    There are many “racers” out there doing what it takes to live their dream. For example, Joe Nemechek is a multiple-time winner rather than simply someone who drives a racecar. You won’t hear his name in any NASCAR commercial this year.

  20. Mike Southern Says:
    January 11th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    PR is news and Danica is big news. Maybe you think she should earn her stripes. Truth, when she signed on she paid out Go Daddy, NNS, and NASCAR big time. That too is news. Time will tell how well she does, but the news of hype sells as good as news of winning. For a time at least. Let her have her honeymoon time and time will tell if she will one day be yesterday’s news. For me, I hope she kicks tail and takes names. Now that will be news!

  21. Kevin Says:
    January 11th, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Shayne,

    NASCAR is targeting the 18 - 34 year old male demographic that isn’t tuning into NASCAR races. How do you capture that demographic? Throw up a commercial of an attractive female race driver on a commercial for the Daytona 500 during an NFL playoff matchup. Instant intrigue, and it may actually get some people to tune in on Sunday afternoon, when they’d usually be tuning in an NFL game, but the season is over.

    Please explain to me how this ad fails to appeal to their target demographic?

  22. Kevin Says:
    January 11th, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Andy,

    Sorry. I feel the need to correct you. Joe Nemechek WAS a race car driver. He has won multiple races yes. However, Joe Nemechek is now a Start & Park driver. You won’t hear his name in any commercial this year because he has become a disgrace to the sport. It isn’t as if he’s been like Furniture Row Racing or Tommy Baldwin Racing - who started with the S&P in order to build their team and their shop in order to compete in every race on a regular basis. Joe Nemechek goes to each race without enough crew to pit the car, or enough fuel or tires to make it through an entire race. Joe Nemechek goes to each race with the intention of starting & then parking in order to collect a paycheck on the back of his fellow competitors.
    If he were actually making an effort to build a competitve race team, Joe would still have respect left. As it is, he has become a disgrace. That is why you won’t see Joe Nemechek’s name in any NASCAR advertising.

  23. Russ Says:
    January 11th, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Kevin, just to remind you, there have been plenty of times when it was Nascar itself who would encourage people to bring their cars to the track and couldn’t have cared less whether they made 1 lap or the entire race. They used to be called field fillers.
    It was only the boom period of Nascar that eliminated the need to do that. But I dare say they will do it again in a heartbeat if they think they need to.