You may have already read this since it was posted last week, but there is an interesting article out there expressing several ideas on why the IRL is still having trouble finding major sponsorship. The column is by Jason Peters, who’s 360 IMC company works to market and promote drivers in the Indy Racing League. Here’s how the piece starts.
A few days ago I received a phone call from the Motorsports Manager from a major company who is currently putting in a lot of effort into sponsoring a car in NASCAR. The reason for the phone call was to discuss the possibilities of a sponsorship in Indy Car.Since Jason is a solution-oriented guy he goes on to suggest many ideas for the IndyCar series, such as having a specialized television show, moving away from International Speedway tracks, and promoting drivers not named “Danica”. Now, to that end I think the league is actually doing some of these by developing the “Up To Speed” show, adding several former Champ Car venues, and, well, we’ll get to the Danica part here in a moment.
Needless to say it was a very short phone call.
Their rational was, they would lose too much money if they ended their NASCAR sponsorship. It wasn’t totally because of the lack of value in Indy Car. But obviously if Indy Car had more value the sponsors would be more interested.
However, the one thing Peters mentions that keeps coming up over and over in the comments here and elsewhere is the broadcast. Personally I disagree with him that the on-air people are the problem (they’re flawed but they get the job done, mostly), but we definitely agree on this:
It is also time to focus on all the cars and drivers. For some teams, they get less than 2 minutes of coverage out of a 2 hour race. It is a reason one sponsor did not renew its program. That is unacceptable.Amen! Because you know what – “2 minutes” is probably being gracious. The only time there’s airtime of Darren Manning or Vitor Meira or AJ Foyt IV is when they are getting lapped or there is an on-track incident. When they’re actually racing – pffft. Forget it. If you’re not at the front or you’re not Danica! then you don’t count.
Think about it. Why should it be any surprise that Danica! gets all of the sponsorship? She can be running in 12th and the camera is going to be on her car. Motorola. Go Daddy. XM. All of her bills are getting paid. Looky here, it’s five minutes of consecutive footage of Danica! driving in 12th. Let’s go to a pre-taped package of her describing her feelings. Aaaaaargh!
Folks, Oriol Servia is currently 8th in the ICS championship standings and we haven’t seen 2 minutes TOTAL of Servia on the track this year (although we did see him talking about Salvador Dali). How is a guy like him ever going to get sponsorship when he’s off-camera even when he’s driving well? And that’s just one example of a dozen or so out there. For goodness sakes, Hideki Mutoh finished 6th in Kansas and I don’t think he was on camera more than one minute – and he’s with a Big Three team!
With the most important race of the year on deck this point can not be emphasized enough. It’s all well and good to show those Big Three cars running at the front, but if ESPN is going to really be a partner and help grow the league to everyone’s benefit then they need to help ALL of the teams by finding ways to show us the rest of the cars now and again. When Manning and Townsend Bell are fighting for a Top 8 position – which actually means something now – it would be nice if they would go ahead and show us a few minutes of that battle. It’s not like we’re going to turn off our TVs.
So just in case the good folks at the Worldwide Leader are reading, how about we put print that bit one more time, in bold no less.
It is also time to focus on all the cars and drivers. For some teams, they get less than 2 minutes of coverage out of a 2 hour race. It is a reason one sponsor did not renew its program. That is unacceptable.Thank you. You can have your soap box back now, Jason.