NASCAR is expanding its outreach by building the star power of individual drivers, attracting a multicultural fan base, executing more social-media strategies and improving the racetrack experience for fans. Its new Diversity Program is going strong and is set to continue this mission with Hispanic-themed events and advertising campaigns this year.
Alejandra Diaz-Labrecque, manager of NASCAR Multicultural Development, is a driving force behind the initiative, and she believes that education and awareness are equally important in the quest to gain more Hispanic fans and drivers. “There are two main components of the Hispanic push,” Diaz-Labrecque says. “The first is raising awareness and the second is making the race experience welcoming to fans.”
The diversity program, Bienvenidos a NASCAR, formed partnerships with tracks and race series across the country to promote the movement. The program offered bilingual ambassadors, a bilingual broadcast, Spanish-language signage, concerts including Los Lobos in Phoenix and Chino and Nacho in Miami, branded merchandise, discounted tickets and more.
“In conjunction with each track, we set up branded tents and booths and handed out T-shirts, cups, keychains, lanyards, all with the Bienvenidos a NASCAR logo on them,” Diaz-Labrecque says. “We had sweepstakes going on in each of the markets, in which the track donated items with its logo, and we offered VIP tickets as well as ran TV and radio ads.”
Bienvenidos a NASCAR also developed a Spanish-language landing page for its site and a Spanish call center for ticket purchases. Hispanic fans were offered ticket packages that included bilingual brochures, track maps and advice for race day. “If you’ve never been to a race before, it can be very overwhelming,” says Diaz-Labrecque. “We wanted every attendee to feel comfortable and welcome, so the literature included tips such as where and when to see fireworks, flyovers and driver introductions.”
Handbooks featuring QR codes linked to NASCAR garage videos were distributed, so fans could learn what goes on under the hood of a racecar and familiarize themselves even more with the sport. Headsets were also included in the ticket package, which allowed onlookers to hear the drivers and crews, and listen to broadcasts in Spanish.
Helping to promote the ongoing cause are a handful of well-known Hispanic drivers, including Juan Pablo Montoya of Columbia, Aric Almirola from Cuba, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Miguel Paludo of Brazil, Victor Gonzalez of Puerto Rico and Jorge Arteaga of Mexico.
Bienvenidos a NASCAR has continued to grow and become involved with more events and races such as NASCAR Championship Drive in South Beach, Miami. “We know it’s going to be an investment before we see huge results,” says Diaz-Labrecque, “but it’s all about raising awareness and educating Hispanics on the sport.”
With momentum gaining from its efforts toward the Hispanic community, NASCAR is excited for 2013, when the NASCAR Toyota Series will compete for the first time ever in the U.S. in Phoenix on March 1. “We will be there in full force,” says Diaz-Labrecque. “It will be an over-the-top, blowout event.”
These days it’s not even necessary to walk into a showroom to buy a car – thus the push for current dealers to court existing clients more aggressively than new ones. Still, somehow dealers and auto makers must get individuals to walk through the door. How?
For starters, dealers are trying to court consumers in a more sophisticated manner, says Karl Brauer, CEO of Total Car Score, an upcoming car rating website that’s based in Camarillo, CA. The Internet, along with a more skeptical, demanding consumer, means dealers are having to beef up websites, in-store displays and interactive tools.
That’s showing up in promotional products as well, for the segment of dealers willing to spend a little extra to impress would-be car buyers. For example, one savvy promotional products distributor recently created a customizable, biodegradable tumbler for Tesla Motors, the American-based manufacturer of high-end electric sports cars and sedans. So customized was the tumbler that its interior color matched the Pantone color choice of Tesla, with the car maker’s information molded into the bottom of the mug, rather than the supplier’s.
Not only was it an item with a high perceived value, but it “matched the look and feel of the car that consumers were buying, and the colors on the brochure, so it really enforced the brand they’re seeing at the dealership and out in the marketplace,” says the distributor.
For 20 years one promotional products distributor in the Midwest has handled a steady stream of orders from upwards of eight local car dealers in his area. “We’ve dealt with them through good and bad,” so to speak, says the distributor.
And, while market swings have affected orders, none of that has affected them so much as the recent shift in how dealers are targeting clients these days. In particular, the distributor says, where once dealers were more focused on promotions to bring new customers into their showrooms, these days their marketing strategies are more about keeping existing clients. In fact, Goldblatt says, mailers urging consumers to test drive vehicles are almost nonexistent in his area.
“The loyalty fight is on, for sure,” says Brian Bolain, national marketing communications manager for Lexus, based in Torrance, CA. The company, he says, predicts as many as 1 million additional cars to be sold this year above last year’s sales.
Still, “it’s more cost efficient to retain customers than to lose them and try to get them back,” he insists, adding that even though Lexus enjoys a loyal customer base with a retention rate upwards of 50%, they use regular promotional products and marketing campaigns to keep the clients they have.
In fact, Goldblatt works regularly with a local Lexus showroom and says the owner is more eager to market to existing customers with regular mailers and thank you gifts (think high-end umbrellas and travel mugs) meant to entice buyers back in.