Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
26 March 2018
NASCAR brand escaping notice anymore
So, did anyone notice yesterday’s Martinsville Cup snowed out? Probably not, because the NASCAR brand fails to attract much notice anymore. Especially when Duke and Kansas play in an OT thriller in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight matchup of heavyweights the same day.
The NASCAR brand is living on hard times. TV ratings are down by more than 25% (depending on the race itself) and car owners struggle to find sponsorships. (That’s why drivers are often switching teams, following the money, or simply scrambling to find a job.)
The Daytona 500, NASCAR’s signature race, results in the race’s worst ratings number ever. Ten years ago, ratings were double what they are now.
Back then, NASCAR promoted its drivers, making stars out of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. They are all retired now, with the young drivers failing to make much of an impact even with race fans.
“But the NASCAR brand owns a serious problem. It’s simply not relevant anymore.”
Who cares about the NASCAR brand anymore?
Now comes word that PNC Bank becomes the official bank of the NASCAR. Why? PNC says it’s forming a national digital strategy, even in markets where it doesn’t have branches. Seeing that online banking is the dominant force in the industry, it’s reaching out to consumers as a national online bank.
OK, I get that. And maybe the few NASCAR fans left are potential customers for this new wave of banking.
But the NASCAR brand owns a serious problem. It’s simply not relevant anymore. It’s not just the stars retiring that hurts the sport. During its Junior-Gordon heyday, the association went national, showcasing races in California, Arizona and other non-traditional areas for the sport.
It simply over-expanded. It’s not unusual to see rows of empty bleachers at those races. The expansion into a larger sector lessened the brand of a sport with roots in the South.
In fact, that’s what I expect NASCAR will become again. A regional sport, much like the NHL in the Midwest and Northeast. What does it mean to be a NASCAR fan? Once the sport defines that, then a lost race because of snow will catch more notice.
Right now, who cares?
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