Thursday, September 27, 2007
Changing of the Guard Among NASCAR Beer Sponsors
Sponsorships at the top levels of NASCAR require fat check books. For years, Anheuser-Busch has been a major sugar daddy for the sport. While the folks in St. Louis will not disappear from America's top motorsports property next season, its brands will have a decidedly lower profile.
A few weeks ago Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he was switching teams and sponsors. The sport's most popular driver will leave behind the Budweiser number 8 and go racing in the Mountain Dew/AMP Energy Drink 88 next season. The Budweiser sponsorship will go to the Gillett Evernham Motorsports car driven by Kasey Kahne.
Earlier, A-B announced its decision to end more than two decades as the naming sponsor for NASCAR's Busch Series. NASCAR is still trying to find a partner to pick up that sponsorship.
Now Coors Light has announced it will replace A-B as the sport's official beer sponsor, paying $20 million over five years for the rights. Part of the deal includes renaming the weekly Cup qualifying to the Coors Light Pole Award. To help pay for the deal, Coors has opted not to continue with its sponsorship of the number 40 car driven by David Stremme. That contract expires at the end of the year.
Miller Lite soldiers on in the sport as the sponsor of the number 2 car piloted by Kurt Busch, the only beer fueled car to make this year's Chase for the Nextel Cup.
NASCAR is recognized as a major power in marketing. It will be interesting to watch fan reaction to the A-B brands with all of the changes. The NASCAR fan base is among the most loyal in all of sports when it comes to buying sponsor products.