Jan 072010

“The biggest challenge now is the sport marketing itself properly. We don’t have a major fast-moving consumer good in the field; NASCAR does. We don’t have a major financial player in the field; NASCAR does.”

So says V8 Supercar driver manager, Dale Rodgers in the latest issue of V8X magazine.

A summary of the interview is here. Call me parochial, but where is it written in the V8 Supercar marketing rule book that what NASCAR does, V8 Supercar must follow? Certainly, I think it goes without saying that in these current difficult economic times, the sponsor dollar must be harder and harder to nail down. With a single V8 Supercar now costing somewhere between $500k and $600k to build, plus engine at $130k, it’s been estimated in some quarters that a top level team will consume approximately $10m annually in running two or more cars, drivers, and support team infrastructure. The sport is now big business, far removed from the Australian Touring Car Championship which spawned it more than sixty years ago.

In that time motorsport at the top level in this country has progressed from strictly privateer entries, to fully factory sponsored entries. We’ve seen massive international sponsors on cars. Coca-Cola springs to mind, albeit in the hands of a less than successful punter in Wayne Gardner. We’ve seen tobacco sponsors come & go. We’ll doubtless see alcohol sponsorship fall from favour. The rationale behind motoring-related sponsors on cars is the direct, inescapable relationship between the ‘sport’ and the sponsor’s product. Castrol, Caltex, Shell, Denso, Bosch, and the list goes on virtually ad infinitum. The question I’d ask is whether in this country, Unilever Australia Limited see a place in V8 Supercar racing for, say, Lipton Iced Tea or Omo Small & Mighty? Should V8 Supercars Australia approach the two major grocery chains? Lords know, Coles & Woollies are into everything else, and Coles does already have an association with the category fuel provider, Shell.

As the ‘sport’ has evolved, so it will continue to evolve, both as the elite level motorsport category in this country, and as the business, V8 Supercars Australia Limited, selling Australia and Australian motorsport to the world. How it goes about doing that will change with the economic fortunes which taint all businesses. Somehow though, I can’t really see any Australian V8 Supercar running round with an ABC Tissues product emblazoned across it. The slogan, “Quilton loves your bum!” , just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow.


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