This case gives students an opportunity to learn about branding from a company that is a shining example of an organization that successfully embraces the branding mantra. Throughout its 60 years of existence, NASCAR has developed and implemented a branding strategy that encompasses a wide range of marketing initiatives. Brands are built on powerful emotional connections through an extremely wide variety of touch points. NASCAR delivers these connections through event marketing, emotional branding, brand communities, customer understanding, brand drivers, differentiation, co-branding, and the understanding that once a brand has been created, it must be monitored and allowed to continuously evolve.
However, in spite of NASCAR’s highly successful branding strategy, the future of NASCAR is uncertain. The most recent economic recession has hit NASCAR hard. The majority of sports are suffering as sponsors pull their endorsements. Yet for NASCAR, which depends so much on its brand alliances and partnerships with other companies, the pullout of sponsors has had an even greater impact. Automaker support has been a crucial component to NASCAR’s success, and as the financial situation of key automakers remains in doubt, so does their funding of NASCAR events. Still, experts foresee that manufacturers will continue to play a major part in NASCAR.
The lower attendance at NASCAR events is also borne of the recession. As consumers strive to save money, discretionary spending on entertainment is one of the first budget items to be cut. NASCAR has taken a proactive stance toward the issue by lowering ticket and concession prices, changing the racing structure, and working with communities to offer incentives to get fans to travel to the events. Whether these actions will be successful remains to be seen, but the intense brand loyalty of fans certainly lies in NASCAR’s favor.
1. Evaluate NASCAR’s branding strategy in relation to its overall marketing strategy. Could NASCAR have done anything differently to insulate itself against the economic downturn?
2. Conduct a strategic SWOT analysis for NASCAR at this point in its history. What opportunities are available for NASCAR to take advantage of given its many significant strengths?
3. What strategies do you recommend to counter the criticisms leveled against NASCAR? Should the company become more involved in sustainability initiatives? If so, how might that be tied in with NASCAR’s branding strategies?
4. What strategies can you offer to move NASCAR to the next level in its evolution? How can the company maintain, or even increase, its sponsor and fan base?