Dot-coms Race to Sponsor NASCAR Series

Amid the roar of the engines and the excitement of the race at this year’s NASCAR Daytona 500, some new entrants vied for viewers’ attention dot-com companies hoping this sporting event will give them the boost that others got at the Super Bowl.

The marketing tactic is aimed at reaching the millions of people that make up “middle America,” those just beginning to get onto the Internet, in the hopes of capturing their attention and building brand loyalty.

E-mail publishing company Emazing.com used the race to launch a season associate sponsorship of the No. 17 car, a Ford Taurus owned by Roush Racing and driven by Matt Kenseth. The company’s logo will appear prominently on the hood of the car, as well as on the car’s rear quarter panels and the TV panel on the rear of the vehicle. The team transporter and the driver’s uniform will also sport the Emazing.com logo.

The company is supporting the sponsorship by promoting it extensively on it Web site, and it will also conduct a national print and advertising campaign. In addition, Emazing.com is tapping its own email expertise, publishing a daily email newsletter to update fans on the car’s progress.

“This marks one of the first significant dot-com season-long sponsorships in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, giving us the chance to introduce Emazing.com to literally millions of racing fans across the country,” says Joe Pierce, senior vice president and general manager of Emazing.com.

Also sponsoring a racing team is WorldBestBuy.com, an Internet retailer that has an auto auction service. The company is signing on to be the lead sponsor for Bobby Hamilton Junior and the ALLCAR Motorsports Team for the first three races of the series. The company also has the option of sponsoring the car through the rest of the season.

Business-to-business dot-coms are also getting into the race. Parts.com, an e-commerce company serving the auto parts industry, is co-sponsor, along with M&M’s, of the No. 36 car, a Pontiac.

As part of the deal, the parts.com log will appear on the car, and on the uniforms of the driver and pit crew.

“We recognize the importance for parts.com to make its presence known to automotive enthusiasts around the world,” said Shawn Lucas, president and co-chief executive officer of parts.com.

“The opportunity to reach nearly 100 million race car and sports fans through these exciting live events is a great honor and a key marketing opportunity.”

Free ISP FreeInternet.com, formerly known as Freei.Net, is using the auto racing series to launch its new television ad campaign, titled “Baby Bob.” The ads debuted on February 19 during the Napa 300 Auto Race on CBS, and spots appeared on the Daytona 500 race.

The campaign, created by Siltanen/Keehn Advertising, features a baby named Bob that possesses a genius IQ and an adult sense of humor.

From logos on cars and uniforms, to television spots on race broadcasts, the NASCAR racing series has clearly become the latest place for dot-coms trying to raise brand awareness. As Internet companies continue to attempt to stand out, and as venues like the Super Bowl become more crowded with dot-com contenders, expect more and more dot-com companies to explore every possible sports marketing opportunity.

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