Nascar: Race Against Time

The brand battle for logo exposure on Nascar tracks kicks into fourth gear.

Think the Average Nascar track gets crowded? Check out those paint jobs. There were about 800 different logos festooning America's super-speedsters last season. "Things start to look indistinguishable when they're going 180 miles per hour," says Eric Wright, VP of R&D at media sponsorship expert Joyce Julius & Associates. To measure the impact of each billboard-on-wheels, JJ&A revved up a new system of "recognition grading" for the 2010 season. It uses logo-recognition software and an algorithm that crunches size, clarity, screen time, placement, and clutter to create a media value for the time each brand is displayed. As seen during this year's Daytona 500, companies are jostling hard for position at every turn.


By dumping spell-it-out name recognition in favor of its universally recognizable red-and-white bull's-eye logo, Juan Montoya's Target car (No. 42) telegraphs its presence virtually anywhere on the track. Plus, without font or margin restrictions, it's extra big and shiny. Nascar fans love big and shiny. The car grabbed 25 minutes and four seconds of screen time, worth $1,927,925 in recognition.


National Guard soldiers would be sick to their stomachs if they knew the Tums logo on Montoya's car won more airtime than No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s mine-is-bigger logo. How? The blank space around Tums helps it cut through the clutter.


Aflac has found the perfect way to take advantage of the rooftop camera that sits atop its driver Carl Edwards's No. 99 car. Just above the windshield, at the edge of the roof, it has posted a small decal to underline footage every time the networks cut to Edwards's camera. Like when he flips a car. What could be better for selling injury insurance? At Daytona, KnowQuack got a full 1:33 in airtime ($757,805).


Valvoline has gotten slick by spreading out its exposure with smaller endorsements across Roush Fenway's four-car fleet, which includes Edwards's No. 99. Betting the field paid off big-time at Daytona when Edwards's teammate David Ragan got a bunch of close-ups on his window, giving the oil company 40 seconds of great recognition and an additional value of $66,600. Shake and bake.

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  • Eric Wright

    Measurement of logo exposure during live sporting events is one of several very important facets of gauging the performance of a sponsorship. These measurements are particularly helpful when the visibility of the branding is unpredictable from event to event, due to the nature of the sport (such as 43 cars jockeying for position over the course of a four-hour race telecast).

    Branding during sporting events is increasing every year and the measurement industry is thriving around the globe. Sponsorship dollars are tighter than ever. Our clients want to maximize every component of their overall programs, including exposure on national television. Joyce Julius research provides insight into the success or failure in accomplishing the particular objective of obtaining media exposure.

    Eric Wright, VP Research & Development

  • Kim Skildum-Reid

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but are you bloody kidding me??? Using logo exposure as a measure of sponsorship performance is a practice that is 20 years out of date!

    Our job as marketers is to change people's perceptions and change their behaviours - no more, no less. Many major academic studies dating back to 1991 (Colin McDonald, 1991, "Sponsorship and the Image of the Sponsor", European Journal of Marketing 25) have shown over and over that logo exposure does not contribute to changing perceptions or behaviours at all. It's window dressing on what we should hope is a substantial, strategic sponsorship that nurtures the sponsor's relationship with their target markets.

    And equating the fleeting glimpse of someone's logo - in amongst dozens of other logos - with some kind of media figure is sheer lunacy. Advertising tells a succinct brand story, a logo on a fast car does not. As for "recognition grading" and other automated logo tracking software, automating an old-school approach does not mitigate the fact that it has been proven to be irrelevant to actual results.

    Please, Fast Company, if you're going to purport to be at the vanguard of new business thinking, don't provide a platform for this kind of ill-informed, outdated practice.

    Kim Skildum-Reid
    Author, The Sponsorship Seeker's Toolkit, The Sponsor's Toolkit, The Ambush Marketing Toolkit, and The Corporate Sponsorship Toolkit (2010).