Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
15 June 2020
The NASCAR rebrand finally arrives
The NASCAR rebrand continues, a long journey from its beginning. The stock car racing organization holds roots in the South when bootleggers during Prohibition would outrace each other for cash. It was also the time of Jim Crow laws and the presence of the Ku Klux Klan in the South.
Believing NASCAR’s reputation was wrapped up in those old times when Confederate flags still flew would not be a stretch.
So who knew that this racing league, which has rarely sported a black driver, would become the most progressive of any major sport? What you’re seeing is simply a NASCAR rebrand.
Last week, it announced that Confederate flags would be banned at all NASCAR events. This came off the heels of the sport becoming the first to hold moments of silence for George Floyd. And for the star drivers to show support for Black Lives Matter and its only black driver, Bubba Wallace.
FOX play-by-play announcer Mike Joy opened that broadcast by quoting the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
It was a powerful and emotional moment. It was also the beginning of a NASCAR rebrand intended to expand its dwindling audience.
“Whether the NASCAR rebrand really opens up the sport is debatable. But I’m actually quite optimistic. The NASCAR brand was becoming stale, like something from a bygone era that was moldy and overgrown with rot.”
NASCAR rebrand desperately needed
For the last few years, the sport saw both attendance and TV ratings dip. Almost to the point where its leaders considered bringing it all the way back to its roots and become simply a Southern regional sport. Its core audience was no longer enough to fund the expensive driving teams and events.
Even Wallace noted, “Bring everybody together, enjoy a sporting event, cheer on their favorite driver, not be shy and introverted about or because they see a Confederate flag flying.”
Whether the NASCAR rebrand really opens up the sport is debatable. But I’m actually quite optimistic. The NASCAR brand was becoming stale, like something from a bygone era that was moldy and overgrown with rot.
By taking a leadership position, NASCAR’s brand immediately comes relevant. Ratings are up, although that’s partly due to the lack of competition right now from other sports. (The MLB may never play this season.)
But the NASCAR rebrand was deeply needed. The BLM movement demonstrates a turning point for most Americans and the racing league needed to either become modern or die. It stepped up, and the organization’s future is all the better for it.
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