How This NASCAR Racing Team Thinks About Social Sponsor Activation

If anyone knows about brand logos, it’s NASCAR. From logos on the cars to logos on the drivers’ tracksuits to logos on the caps worn by the crew, every NASCAR fan is well-aware of the brands behind the sport and its teams and drivers.

But there’s more value to be had beyond the logo. Jeff O’Keefe, Manager of Digital and Social Media for Richard Childress Racing, a mainstay on the Sprint Cup Circuit and other NASCAR series, knows that they can deliver more and achieve better results for NASCAR and the team’s corporate partners, which, in turn, results in a better experience for fans.

“You have sponsors who are paying millions of dollars to activate with you and to have their presence be known,” O’Keefe told me in a recent interview. “I can’t stand (social media) posts that say “Follow so-and-so on Facebook and get a free hat,’ and it doesn’t work.”

For O’Keefe, it’s about activating in that sweet spot where the sponsor intersects with the the team and the fans. They’re partners, a part of the team to which fans devote themselves.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to integrate our sponsors organically and to share their messaging organically, ” O’Keefe said. “To tell a story and to explain what they do and how it relates back to RCR and what we do…We guarantee that fans have used something these brands have made.”

That’s where the rubber meets the road for organic sponsor integration in social and for RCR’s sponsorship activation. It’s a new era for sponsorship in sport, and that includes NASCAR. It’s not just a race day element anymore, not when social and digital offers opportunity to reach and engage fans directly, every day. O’Keefe and his team at RCR don’t shy away from it, they’re out to build upon it and demonstrate the value of it to corporate partners.

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“There’s all these different tentacles based off these sponsorships that we can tap into and that they can tap into with us,” said O’Keefe, who also mentioned RCR has recently begun working with MVPIndex to value the reach of corporate partner integration into all digital and social. “It (all) provides for a really strong, creative content campaign each year.”

Because NASCAR, RCR, and O’Keefe realize that a logo on a car and a driver is a living (immortal) entity – traveling across digital and social content, from campaigns to even photos that show logos and branding whose reach boggles the mind when considering the multiplier effect and all the different mediums and social media networks.

It takes realization on all sides of this latent and real value, however. First, the creation of content that spreads and activates sponsors across all the various platforms to fans all over the world. Then, the team disseminating that content must measure it and value it and present in a compelling and digestible way to corporate partners. Finally, sponsors must buy in and acknowledge the value of these activations and extensions, beyond simply a bonus, but a true asset worth paying for.

It’s a long race to reach the checkered flag. We’re merely in the opening laps, even if it feels like the cars are moving faster than ever.

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