You may have seen it, this commercial for a mobile phone company that has a girl cheerleader talking really fast about every little dramatic thing in her life. A bunch of lab guys are standing around as time lapses in an effort to demonstrate how many minutes you get under the phone plan. The point is girls love their mobile phones.
If you asked most women today what things are indispensable to them, you would probably find “mobile phone” at or near the top of the list. Certainly higher than “men”, but that’s a different story.
So suppose you head a company that makes mobile phones and you want to convey a superior image to your potential customers. You have lots of young women who want to be cool, popular, and talking very, very fast with their friends. You want them to think that having YOUR phone will make them sexy and get them noticed.
Let’s see here: Young, Cool, Noticed, Fast, Popular, Sexy…sound like any IRL driver you know? Perhaps a girl herself?
And so now it is revealed by SpeedTV that Andretti Green by way of their longtime sponsorship with Motorola have become the winners in the Danica! sweepstakes. How much does it cost to get Mrs. Hospenthal to “rock what she got” for your phone company?
$21 million over three years. Wow. Just wow.
Now, it's not known how much of that she actually gets since a good portion will go to help pay for her car, crew and replacement helmets, but suffice it to say she will surpass the Penske boys as the highest paid of all IRL drivers. One can presume for that amount she will be appearing in print/radio/TV ads as well for Motorola and that she’ll be holding a nice pink MotoRazr all the while.
Before you start slapping your forehead in disgust and saying “but she’s never won a race”, take a breath and understand this is about marketing. This is about her ability to sell a product, and one company’s belief that her marketing of their product will translate into lots of dollars for them. All things considered, this is FANTASTIC news for the league, because if you can make millions a year in the IRL – and that isn’t including her other sponsorships – then perhaps some of those young talents who end up going to another racing series might stay focused on a career in open-wheel racing.
This is a huge bonus not just for Danica! and AGR but for the whole league. You need not look so far back as to see the effect Tiger Woods had in golf. Before he had ever won a tournament, he signed huge deals with companies like Nike and American Express because they knew that win or lose more people would be watching when he competed. More people watching means more TV and ticket revenue, meaning more money for ALL of the competitors.
Again, sound like any IRL driver you know?
Whether or not she wins a race only affects the longevity of her impact, since despite here winless ways she sustains unparalleled popularity. People may tune in to see her, but they also get a look at such personalities as Spiderman, Well Done and El Nariz. Those guys can sell product ("I'm Helio Castroneves and I love Whoppers!"), and it seems with a little luck The Fisher Queen may return to lofty popularity as well. Certainly they will have higher Q score than anyone in Champ Car, not to mention more cash in hand.
So there you have it, Danica! the rainmaker. You go girl.