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Is WalMart/Elliott one race pairing a sign of bigger things to come?

By admin | January 26, 2012

By Richard Allen

Retailing giant WalMart announced on Thursday during the Sprint Media Tour that their company is about to make its presence felt in NASCAR this coming July. Former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott will pilot a Turner Motorsports Chevrolet emblazoned with that company’s logo in the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.

With that announcement now having been made, there comes the question of whether or not this brief 2012 entry into the sport may lead to much bigger things. Is this a trial run to gauge the marketing potential for a more involved effort in NASCAR?

WalMart stated in the official announcement that they had done surveys and found strong correlations between shoppers at their stores and NASCAR fans. That news will probably not come as a great surprise to most readers of this column.

In 2010, it was rumored strongly that WalMart was considering sponsorship in Sprint Cup racing. The most prevalent of those rumors centered around a partnership between the retailer, Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. With the status of each of those three powerhouse names, the marketing capabilities would have been seemingly endless. But it looks as if just because that deal fell through back then doesn’t mean WalMart gave up on the idea of becoming part of the sport.

Could there be a revival of those talks between WalMart, NASCAR and Hendrick?

To add more fuel to this entirely speculative fire, consider that the Turner Motorsports cars Elliott will be driving in Daytona will be receiving support from HMS. And further, recall too that Elliott’s teenage son, Chase, is an HMS development driver.

WalMart mentioned that they intend to carry even more NASCAR themed items in their stores and on their website in the near future.

It certainly sounds as if WalMart is taking a serious look at NASCAR as a potential tool for marketing. So, is this one race deal with Turner Motorsports and Bill Elliott a test to see just how much further they want to extend into the sport or is it simply a way of creating buzz toward a bigger announcement? Perhaps sponsorship of a major team such as Hendrick Motorsports or one of the other big players in the sport is in the offing. Or, the retailer might want to enter into some sort of long term marketing agreement with NASCAR itself.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine that an announcement coupled with an unveiling of their car and driver during the Sprint Media Tour will be the last we hear of WalMart in NASCAR.

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12 Responses to “Is WalMart/Elliott one race pairing a sign of bigger things to come?”

  1. The Mad Man Says:
    January 26th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Funny thing about the NASCAR items in Wal-Mart. I keep finding them in the front of the store marked down because they’re not selling. It reminds me of the NASCAR Mystery Meats from a few years ago that took a long time to get into the stores and then didn’t sell very well.

  2. Russ Says:
    January 26th, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I wonder, Walmarts bread and butter is the “value oriented” shopper. Although they did make an attempt to move at least a little upscale a couple of years ago. The attempt failed miserably. Nascar’s ideal fan is the person with at least some disposable income.
    Sounds like a perfect fit to me. Although if there is any time for the two to partner its probably now.

  3. Chris Fiegler Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Why doesn’t Wal-Mart sponsor a Sprint Cup Series Team for the whole entire 2012 Season?

  4. Sue Rarick Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I’ll be a bit contrarian. With a drop in full time teams there has been created a lot of extra room for either more start and park cars or for a small team to run a partial schedual. The same also holds true for sponsors.

    With all teams running around looking for sponsors this would be a great time for a company like Walmart to just pick and choose a race or a few races that have the highest viewership. Why spend money on let us say California where 3 boys and a dog watch? And Walmart is large enough they can dangle the possibility of a full season sponsorship to get a great rate for a highly rated race.

  5. Russ Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 9:12 am

    To expand on Sue’s point. Why should anybody sponsor a team full time? You can do one race and promote that you were the sponsor of the XWZ Dingbat Purple Flash at the Insomniac 500. Those pics can be run forever.

    How many people that they are marketing to care whether its a full season or a one race sponsorship?

  6. Overra88ted Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Walmart missed the boat for 2012, they should have been Dale Jr.’s new sponsor. After all, “the people of Walmart” fit the profile for Jr. Nation membership.

  7. allen Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    will the walmart car be made in china?

  8. Carl Watson Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    “sponsor of the XWZ Dingbat Purple Flash at the Insomniac 500″ = This wins my vote for best user comment I’ve read this week and perhaps the whole month. I know this comment is absolutely devoid of any constructive contribution, and I apologize, but that line was AWESOME!

  9. Russ Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    allen, exactly! Maybe the only way they could get them to sponsor it was for one race, because isn’t that about the life span of the rest of the Walmart products?

  10. Offkilter Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    What value a sponser sees in elliott being on the track and in the way is beyond me. These old guys that prostitute themselves out for that ” past champion ” provisional are not competetive. EVERYBODY i know think of them as a joke.

  11. Russ Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Carl, thank you very much. It kinda seems to roll off the tongue doesn’t it?

    BTW: saw the name 1908 Dingbat Purple Flash in a parts man’s joke late in the 60’s.

  12. Jeff (Spokane, WA) Says:
    January 29th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I think that people underestimate the PULL that a Bill Elliott has. This lookske a setup for Chase’s future. Bill comes with a Champions provisional. You put Bill in a good car and add some good pit crew guys a smart crew chief, ya got the tools
    for a viable team that has the potential for a longtermplace for Chase to lan and a BIG national sponsor that makes sense for an AWESOME sport. I Say good luck to you “awesome Bill”. Hell I’d even start shoppinf there more often.