By admin | November 24, 2008
By Richard Allen
Some of the biggest names in all of sports have had endorsement deals with automobile giant General Motors in recent years. Championship winners and popular superstars have traded their name recognition for lucrative deals with the auto maker.
Among those names are NASCAR champions Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart as well as the immensely popular Dale Earnhardt, Jr. from the world of NASCAR along with golfing mega star Tiger Woods.
In an effort to cut costs in what may well be the auto industry’s most challenging time since the Great Depression, GM has decided to hold on to some of the money that had been intended for high profile endorsements.
Tiger Woods will no longer be the recipient of GM’s deposits in his bank account. His endorsement deal with the Buick brand, believed to worth $7 million per year, will be terminated.
GM had already announced it would be significantly scaling back its involvement in NASCAR by reducing its signage and other advertisements with the various speedways it had previously had dealings with. However, the company will continue to provide its support to the teams who run its Chevrolet products.
Those teams include such power players as Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing, along with the newly reorganized teams of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Stewart Haas Racing. The previously mentioned drivers make up part of the list of NASCAR heavyweights who compete with the bow tie logo on the front of their machines.
Apparently, GM decided it is more beneficial for them to have the likes of Gordon, Johnson, Stewart and Earnhardt winning races and mentioning their name in victory lane than to be associated with the most prolific golfer in decades, if not of all time.
There is, of course, a natural relationship between an auto maker and NASCAR teams. What remains to be seen is whether the continued support of those teams will expose GM to the best possible audience for its products.
In 2008, the General Motors’ Chevrolet brand won its 32nd NASCAR Manufacturer’s Championship. However, the auto maker is currently in the midst of another more important championship battle. That is the battle to return to profitability before it is too late.
Reducing expenses by ending its association with Tiger Woods while continuing to spend big money, which is rumored to be as much as $100 million per year spread among its various teams, in NASCAR may allow the company to once again achieve that profitability. The fates of many people inside and outside the world’s of golf and racing depend on GM making the right decisions.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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