By admin | November 19, 2012
By Richard Allen
A story that appeared on the website SportsBusinessDaily.com(http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2012/11/19/Marketing-and-Sponsorship/Keselowski.aspx ) on Monday offered the idea that 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski has the opportunity to reach a new audience due to his social media prowess. The web post relied heavily on a piece written by USA Today journalist Nate Ryan in which he scribed that “NASCAR has a five year plan aimed at hooking a younger demographic with a heavier emphasis on techonology and cutting-edge cultural touchstones, and Keselowski seems to live right in its sweet spot while also being uniquely qualified and eager to deliver its message as the eighth-youngest champion in Cup history.”
And so continues the story of NASCAR grasping for an audience aside from the one it once had but for whatever reason decided to kick to the curb. How many times has this same attempt been made?
Since 2001, the powers that be in NASCAR along with their television partners have pinned their hopes more on personalities and less on the actual racing product. The result has been a generic car racing on generic tracks aiming toward a contrived championship battle over the final ten races.
At first, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was made the focal point of the sport. As NASCAR’s most popular driver, his name and face were stamped all over the coverage of Sprint Cup racing and everything related to it. Even when the third generation driver’s statistics dropped off dramatically, he was continually made a centerpiece of broadcasts, marketing and advertising campaigns.
After several years of less than spectacular performance, Junior has experienced a resurgence. However, even with its most popular star running well again, attendance and television ratings have failed to rebound.
Lesson learned, right? Surely those who make the decisions have realized that it’s what’s on the track, not one particular individual, that sells the sport. Well, not exactly.
Instead of refocusing their efforts toward the on-track product, the personality promoting machine was put back to work when IndyCar driver Danica Patrick was lured to join NASCAR two years ago.
While it may have seemed to many that Junior, with his mediocre results, had received more attention than was appropriate during his lean years, the hype surrounding the new arrival gave a new definition to the word disproportionate.
Still, grandstand seats have been left vacant in places at which tickets once were rarely available. Again it seemed as though the bombardment of individuals over racing had failed to provide the desired result.
Now, the suggestion has been made that Brad Keselowski and his 300,000+ Twitter followers can bring about the influx of a new, younger demographic. The leaders of this sport are misguided enough, please don’t encorage them.
The results will be the same in terms of attendance and ratings as long as personality alone remains the emphasis no matter who the personality may be.
Rather than “a heavier emphasis on techonology and cutting-edge cultural touchstones”, how about a heavier emphasis on the actual product so that 2013 is not filled with 500 mile parades capped off by fuel mileage coasts?
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