The structure is new, and the level of commitment is elevated, but the four companies announced Thursday as Premier Partners for the NASCAR Cup Series are hardly new to the sport.
Busch Beer, Coca-Cola, GEICO and Xfinity already enjoy significant roles in NASCAR, but the presence of those four companies will expand as part of a paradigm shift in sponsorship structure in 2020.
NASCAR’s premier division will be named the NASCAR Cup Series, with the four cornerstone brands announced Wednesday as Premier Partners, who collectively will own a presence connected to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race and NASCAR All-Star Race.
“We’re thrilled with these brands,” said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer. “They’ve been in our sport for a long time. They’re invested in the sport emotionally, too—they care about the sport. They promote aggressively around the sport.
“We believe they’re the right four partners for us going forward.”
All four partners will be featured prominently in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, event entitlements, in-market promotions and at-track activations.
Busch Beer, for example, will maintain its exclusive sponsorship of the Busch Pole Award, as well as adding an entitlement for a 2020 Cup race to its portfolio. Coca-Cola, which sponsors the sport’s longest race—the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway—will take on the role as presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season championship trophy.
Earlier this year, GEICO became the “Official Insurance Provider of NASCAR.” The company will enhance its involvement as a Premier Partner and as the presenting sponsor of a still-to-be-announced phase of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
Xfinity will retain its sponsorship of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and will add entitlement sponsorship of the 2020 Round of 8 Playoff cutoff race at Martinsville Speedway.
The prominence of the four Premier Partners, however, doesn’t obscure the fact that the NASCAR Cup Series brand will stand by itself.
“The first mark is our mark—it’s the NASCAR mark,” Wolfe said. “In the world of transitioning sponsorships, if you think about from Nextel to Sprint to Monster Energy, the pinnacle of our sport is the NASCAR Cup Series. We want to lead with our brand. We think that’s good for other partners.
“They’ve made an investment with our brand, the sport, NASCAR. We also think it’s good for fan-development opportunities… We’re leading with our brand, the NASCAR Cup Series, so we think that from a fan development opportunity and fan engagement opportunity, it’s a big plus for us going forward.
Wolfe said he expects Monster Energy, which has sponsored the Cup series for the past three years, to maintain a substantial presence in the sport.
NASCAR will not sunset existing deals in the categories of the four Premier Partners. Nor will race teams be restricted from attracting new sponsors by exclusivity provisions, as has been the case in the past.
“We’re looking at these deals holistically across the entire sport,” Wolfe said. “We wanted to make sure it was easier for our teams to go out there, prospect and find brands. So, no restrictions on teams… That was an important component of this.”