New Pairing of Johnson & Ally Financial Signals New Opportunities

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In a season of change for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson comes a new sponsor. Ally Financial- a digital bank with a focus on auto loans- will be his new sponsor. Well now, what do we have here? A different kind of sponsor, and quite possibly, a sign of where the next wave of sponsors may come from.

As time passes and things change, so does the sponsorship landscape. If you look back to the early days, it was about all things auto. Auto dealerships, auto mechanics, and auto care product logos adorned the race cars. When Winston comes along as title sponsor, things shift. Drink brands, tobacco products, snacks and clothing brands get into the act. Later, all manner of corporations get into the act, right down to diapers and diaper rash cream (remember Butt Paste?).

Naturally, as time goes on, sponsors come and go. As longtime sponsors such as Lowe’s step away, it’s easy to perceive NASCAR is dying and sponsorship is drying up. Not so fast.

Just as any other business evolves to survive, so does a race team. For Hendrick Motorsports, the hunt for a new sponsor for Jimmie Johnson should be as about as easy as it gets with one of this generation’s most prolific drivers. Enter Ally Financial.

It wasn’t a huge stretch for the company. Ally Financial in another day and time was GMAC. Those of you who have followed NASCAR for a while recall that GMAC was once a sponsor for the late Ricky Hendrick. The sponsor and the team were no strangers to each other. Still, given the money, the pairing has to make sense. Given the pretty penny it costs, the gamble has to be a calculated one at worst.

It’s a monkey-see, monkey-do world we live in, expect more digitally based businesses to follow. “If Ally Financial is doing it, why not me?” Even with a smaller audience than what they had at their peak? NASCAR is as big a draw as it gets in the world of racing. When value exceeds cost, a deal is made.

You know teams around NASCAR are scrambling, looking for the next Ally Financial. More digitally based companies are sure to follow.