After months of negotiations, Monster Energy has committed to be title sponsor for the NASCAR Cup Series for the 2019. After that, change is coming.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. What we’re learning is that title sponsorship for a brand with NASCAR really isn’t working. Sea changes in sports, in media and marketing are causing the players involved to re-think how the sponsorship game is played. You can probably read from the comments made by Monster Energy and NASCAR that affiliation with the sport can be good for a brand, but kicking in the bucks to be a title sponsor does not deliver the return on investment. In other words, there’s still the bang for the buck, but less is more.
It’s not necessarily bad news. When the pain becomes great enough, change will happen. Monster Energy sees a benefit to its association with NASCAR. They will still be there. Monster Energy will be there in a different way.
If you think about it, this will be good for NASCAR’s brand. The revolving door of sponsorship plays havoc with the sport’s identity. In reality, most people think of the series generically as “NASCAR.” Most casual fans don’t even really acknowledge the other two national series, though they may be aware of the truck series and that nebulous competition we now call the Xfinity Series. It was a heck of easier when it was the “Sportsman’s Division.” That’s an entirely different ball of wax for another time.
What Monster Energy has done by hanging in for 2019 is buy NASCAR some time for an extreme sponsorship makeover. Between tracks, races, events within the race and other opportunities, there are numerous ways for a company to enjoy the benefits of affiliation with the sport.
When I worked in the advertising game, we had an axiom that a client will buy when value exceeds cost. Because of the realities of a changing economy and declining viewership, the time has come to build the better mousetrap. Expect this to be one of many more changes coming NASCAR’s way in the years to come.