POSTED ON: August 10, 2009

By Darrell Sitarz, Editor

It is always good to circle back and remind ourselves of the bottomline elemental basics which make up a normal sponsorship program. Yes, most of you know all of this stuff, but read through this Motorsports 101 and I am sure you will see some things that you forgot.


Motorsports Sponsorship Basics
Sponsors today come from a wide variety of backgrounds and industries, from communications to retailing, from fashion to financial, etc. Generally, a sponsor on who associates with an athlete is trying to tell you something about that company. The images most commonly associated with a sponsorship are that the company is:
~ modern
~ technically advanced
~ competitive & team oriented

Companies that once shunned racing such as female-oriented firms are turning into major supporters as more and more women follow the sport in general. Motorsports are now considered a broad-based entertainment medium on a par with the “stick & ball” sports like football, baseball and basketball.

Autoracing was the first sport to embrace commercial sponsorship (60’s) and as such is regarded as one of the most powerful sports marketing mediums overall. Sponsors receive a wide variety of marketing benefits from the budget “dollar”.

The primary reasons why companies are involved in racing are based around the following:
~ demographics
~ levels of media exposure
~ image
~ marketing & promotions
~ event hospitality and entertainment

Undertaking a sponsorship on the part of a company requires a comprehensive marketing support program. This is vital to a successful involvement. As such a marketing program needs to be developed to make use of the sponsorship.

Some of the more usual elements of a marketing support program include:
~ corporate hospitality at the event
~ media activities
~ driver personal appearances
~ show car appearances
~ advertising campaigns
~ sales promotion activities
~ employee motivation programs
~ print & publicity materials
~ image building programs
~ business-to-business opportunities

Types of Sponsorships
The motorsport sponsor has a choice. They can choose to develop an association with one or all of the following “elements” which, individually, make up the world of racing:
~ sponsorship of a team (multiple cars)
~ sponsorship of a car (on a one-car team or one car of a two-car team)
~ sponsorship of an individual driver
~ sponsorship of a series
~ sponsorship of an individual racing event

Each of the above venues have varying degrees of participation (budget) ranging from primary to minor. This is covered elsewhere in the report.

Typical Sponsorship Program Features

~ Logo on car, team uniforms, team equipment
~ Allotment of VIP, All Access Passes to every event
~ Hospitality Passes


~ Logo on Uniform
~ Appearances
~ Endorsement


~ Name in Title of Series (NASCAR Nextel Cup) or
~ Signage at all events
~ Logo on all cars, team equipment & drivers and promotion materials
~ Display kiosks and sampling

Race Event

~ Name in title (The Honda St.Petersburg Grand Prix)
~ Suites
~ VIP Passes
~ Signage and Regional Publicity
~ Display Kiosks and Sampling


Integrating The Sponsorship
A motorsport sponsorship will fail if it is not part of an overall marketing plan. The sponsorship should mesh or support existing activities or be a central feature in a new marketing plan. There also has to be specific marketing support for the sponsorship. This marketing support would determine exactly how the company is going to maximize use of the sponsorship and, get the results that are required.

Many companies formulate overall marketing plans a year in advance but remain flexible enough to respond to new opportunities. As such a new sponsor needs to give consideration to it’s existing marketing strategy before undertaking a sponsorship. After this has been reviewed it is easier to decide how to integrate motorsports into it’s strategy.

This usually means that many different departments of the sponsoring firm must come together to preview how to integrate the motorsport sponsorship. For example, if the advertising department of a company has decided that they want to use racing as an advertising medium, they will probably need to agree to a joint strategy with brand managers and/or the sales department. This is important in order to gain full results from the sponsorship across all company operations. Racing sponsorship has the unique ability to present impactful tactics to every area of business activities making this planning-stage crucial to success.

Staffing For Sponsorship
Once a company has decided to undertake a sponsorship program thought needs to be given to allocating appropriate resources to the program. To insure a company maximizes their involvement in racing, a variety of marketing support activities are usually put into action. These can be extremely time-consuming.

A new sponsor therefore needs to decide whether they want to allocate their own resources from “in-house” or look outside for help. Looking outside can involve either employing extra specialist-staff to coordinate the program or engaging a Motorsport Marketing Agency to act on the company’s behalf. Such agencies are regarded as an extension of the sponsor’s own marketing department.

Additional Information
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    1. Thanks much for that informational piece of text.