Tractors and farm equipment
As the leading U.S manufacturer of lawn tractors and farm equipment, the company was approached by a NASCAR team soliciting corporate sponsorship. After initially turning down the proposal, brand managers began to reconsider that the notorious brand of loyalty among NASCAR fans may be relevant to their own product category. Senior management, however, opposed the concept of a racing sponsorship, believing that involvement in the sport might degrade the top-of-the-line image of their products.
Telephone interviews were conducted among three distinct audiences: (1) Potential product buyers who are NASCAR fans, (2) Potential product buyers who do not follow NASCAR, and (3) Lawn tractor distributors and retailers.
As expected, current NASCAR fans welcomed the concept of a new category sponsor into the sport, and the sponsor found an unusually high concentration of product line users within NASCAR. Moreover, the fans’ feedback was instrumental in selecting the most appropriate driver/team to represent the product. Data collected among non-NASCAR fans disproved the theory that NASCAR would detract from the company’s image, and actually served to indicate that NASCAR is widely respected, even among non-fans. Finally, research among dealers indicated that as a group, they felt the company had traditionally invested too little to market the product, and that any sponsorship would help energize sales, particularly to an increasingly younger consumer base.
The company negotiated a limited-term sponsorship of a Busch Grand National team, thus launching its first major commitment to a sports sponsorship.
On-site research among NASCAR fans at Busch Grand National races was implemented to test for sponsor awareness, brand value, and changes in consideration set.
The results indicated that an increased commitment to NASCAR provided a measurable return on investment, and the company now is title sponsor of a team in the Nextel Cup Series.