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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