Tag Archives: NASCAR

Is Pokémon Go the Future of Sponsorship? Augmented Reality and Sponsorship Activation

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It’s not just kids and aging millennials who are all a clamor over Nintendo’s newest franchise of the Pokémon brand: Pokémon Go! Back in February, the sports world had its first glimpse of the new game during its minute-long Super Bowl ad, but that did little to prepare the vast majority of Americans for the harbinger of augmented reality gaming.

As investors and marketing agencies eye the new application, shares of Nintendo (NTDOY) have climbed sharply since the game’s release, up over 100%. The new game is a product of Niantic, a subsidiary of Google (GOOGL) and its parent company, Alphabet (GOOG).

Pokémon Go is the first augmented reality game to see such widespread initial adoption, between 15 and 21 million users in the first weeks alone. Using your smartphone’s camera and location, the game interactively overlays Pokémon upon a google-maps based program. The game has an established list of historical locations and points of interest that the developers have used as so-called “PokéStops.”

Although the game has, as of now, been live for little over a week, tech-savvy retail businesses, perhaps with younger employees, are jumping at the plethora of opportunities presented by the emergent Pokémon Go.

Within days of the new gaming platform’s launch, a pizzeria in New York City spent $10 using the in-app purchases feature to lure a dozen Pokémon to its location and enjoyed a 75% jump in sales, according to a CNBC report.

Estimates suggest Pokémon Go has generated $14.04 million in revenue since its release on July 6th,, 2016. But where is this money coming from? And what does this mean for the sponsorship industry going forward? Are games and apps such as Pokémon Go the future of the industry?

As augmented reality software and interactive gaming platforms continue to surge in popularity in the coming months and years, we can undoubtedly expect to see an unprecedented opportunity growth in potential impressions and actual audience engagement with sponsors via mobile gaming platforms.

Pokémon Go and other augmented reality platforms that are still to come create a tremendous opportunity for sponsorship and co-branding at specific geographic locations and events ranging from stadiums, concert venues, to festivals. Some examples include the potential for interactive elements held in more remote locations, with less permanent infrastructure for sponsor activations, from the Polo Fields that host Coachella to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, home to the Burning Man music festival.

Within the realm of more traditional sponsorship, and in the context of Pokémon Go, imagine that as you enter a NASCAR race, you are notified that there is a limited time ability to get a rare Pokémon if you visit the Coke ZERO activation and participate in their promotion. It is not hard to see how this type of engagement could be used to funnel fans directly toward the sponsor activation.

In the case of Pokémon Go, the game could easily be used to attract users to an activation at a concert or sporting event during which the sponsor has paid the game developers to make a “PokéStop” or hotspot, for players in the Pokémon Go game. In fact, with Pokémon Go set to launch in Japan on July 20th, it has already been reported that McDonald’s will be sponsoring the launch, making its restaurants key locations within the game.

As parades of smartphone users quickly descend upon specific location, a well-targeted sponsorship activation could immediately capitalize on this vast, untapped demographic, which ranges from 10-year old children to aging millennials, and young parents.

Augmented reality platforms also offer innovative opportunities for logistics and event operations, on the most basic level of possibilities in the area of crowd control.

In a crowded theme park or stadium, as congestion builds in a specific area of a venue, augmented reality games and apps such as Pokémon Go could be used to drive fans and attendees toward a less busy area of a theme park or stadium from a more heavily trafficked location, in a much more interactive and organic fashion than offered by barricades or security personnel.

It is not hard to see how these emergent augmented reality platforms will transform the sponsorship industry in the short term, and irreversibly alter the landscape in the future.

Sponsorship engagement through augmented reality apps, if done right, won’t be a matter of simple logo placement or banner ads within the gaming app. Instead, augmented reality presents sponsors with the opportunity to enhance personal experiences at any event or public space where smartphones are permitted.

As is always true with genuine sponsorship, those who leverage the marketing opportunities presented by augmented reality by enhancing experiences and emotionally connecting with consumers will be the real winners. GO!

 

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Press Release: Daytona 500 Social Media Coverage

Morning News: We’ve completed our initial EVsdrop run of the Daytona 500. You can see full results here: http://bit.ly/1FOSazL and read our press release below.

Performance Research utilized its groundbreaking social media listening and analysis platform EVsdrop, which uses geolocation technology to analyze the social buzz generated by event attendees, to analyze the social media conversation at the Daytona 500.

Results show that of the total posts captured, 9% were related to sponsors — a figure that is more than double what we have found at other sporting events that we have analyzed.

Other than event title sponsors of the week (Budweiser, Xfinity and Sprint) Ford had the greatest share of voice, generating 12% of all sponsor-related mentions.

The release details our findings and includes additional information related to methodology, post frequency, platform use, and top used by event attendees.

We’re looking forward to sharing deeper insights in the coming days about sponsor sentiment, activation mentions and opportunities for future sponsors (along with race-related insights like driver mentions and sentiment). From our initial data run, though, we noticed a lot of posts about the unrelenting sun at the racetrack. We think Daytona might #NeedASunscreenSponsor!

For additional information about this EVsdrop study or access to our unique stream of data, please reach out to Julia Burke by email (evsdrop@performanceresearch.com) or phone (401-848-0111).

NOTE: EVsdrop is unique from other social media monitoring platforms in that it captures posts based on geolocation rather than keywords or hashtags — the data used to analyze the event originated from attendees within the confines of the Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR seeks new partner for its B-level series

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be sporting this new paint scheme powered by Nationwide for his 2014 Sprint Cup debut.

With Nationwide Insurance announcing that it will no longer continue its entitlement partnership with NASCAR’s B-level series, the nation’s top motorsports organization will have to find a new company that is willing to be the one of the major faces of a sport who’s interest has been steadily declining in recent years.

The decision by Nationwide to abandon its sponsorship wasn’t necessarily driven by poor performance. They have actually chosen to increase its overall investment in NASCAR sponsorships by increasing exposure on Sundays, where the fan base is about twice the size of its current Saturday series. Nationwide will be sponsoring up and coming Sprint Cup driver and two-time Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., continuing its TV ad campaigns featuring select Sprint Cup drivers, all while increasing its online media and good will efforts.

For Nationwide, this decision seems like a no-brainer. Several studies developed by Performance Research indicate that there are solid returns to be made from an increased commitment to NASCAR’s top series. Nationwide’s longstanding relationship with NASCAR and its fans acts as a testament to these findings. With that being said, who will be willing to step into Nationwide’s shoes when the sport has been surrounded by so much controversy lately?

One can’t deny the sheer amount of people that consider themselves NASCAR die hards. On average, the Nationwide Series has pulled in about 1.7 million viewers throughout the 2013 season. While these numbers are down from last season, 1.7 million viewers is still a great number to have on a weekly basis over a 10 month season. However, one has to be wary when you see the fact that NASCAR’s ratings have been on a steady decline since 2005, sinking to their lowest level in 10 years

Some consider this downturn in recent interest as a direct result of a 2011 rules change which restricts drivers to only earn points towards one series per season. This means the big time Sprint Cup names that typically draw in fans to the Nationwide Series are no longer a key part of the action each week. Given the one-two punch of a decline in ratings and fewer big name drivers, who knows how long it will take the series to gain traction with its fans again.

And what about the issue of integrity?  The recent allegation of race manipulation against the Michael Waltrip Racing team has seriously damaged the competitive spirit of the sport and may spell the end of MWR. NAPA Autoparts has already pulled their sponsorship, with more sponsors waiting until the dust settles at the end of the season to decide if they are willing to continue their efforts. This wasn’t the first time MWR has been caught cheating either… Anyone remember the fuel tampering scandal of 2007?

From the outside looking in, one has to wonder how much of this continues to go unnoticed. While the organizing authority has enforced strict penalties on the team involved in the latest scandal, nothing may be able to make up for the damage done to the public’s perception of the sport.

This news comes in light of NASCAR signing a multi-billion dollar TV contract with FOX and NBC. While these two recently established networks are more than happy to open its doors to so many racing fans, it begs the question, why have ESPN and TNT been so willing to give up one of the only sport that consistently competes with the NFL for viewers each week? Perhaps NASCAR’s fan base isn’t as stable as this new deal would suggest. With NASCAR’s ratings in decline, who could blame the two incumbents for not wanting to pay any additional rights fees in order to renew their contract?

Sports Business Daily released the terms and conditions for NASCAR’s new entitlement sponsorship, expecting the new sponsor to shell out around $30 million a year in rights fees, activation and media expenditures. At this price, NASCAR is guaranteeing unmatched fan loyalty. Our very own Jed Pearsall will attest to the influence a NASCAR title sponsorship will have on consumer behavior. In a previous study on NASCAR fans, he said, “NASCAR fans provide one of the highest levels of brand loyalty and sponsorship support of any one of the hundred or so sports and special events we’ve tested.” In any case, it would be safe to say that any prospective sponsors should carefully consider paying a premium to replace Nationwide as title sponsor of NASCAR’s B-level racing series.

Image Source GFR Racing

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Army Pulls Out of NASCAR Sponsorship

The US Army, a presence in the NASCAR experience for nearly a decade, recently announced that it will no longer sponsor a NASCAR team as part of its branding and recruitment efforts. At one point the Army was a primary sponsor of NASCAR. They moved to Stewart-Haas Racing to sponsor Ryan Newmann in 2009. In exiting their sponsorship of SHR, the Army is effectively cutting its sponsor relationship with the motorsport indefinitely.

It’s big news made bigger by the fact that the move comes just days before the House takes up an annual spending bill that includes language intended to prohibit military sponsorship of sports.

The language in that bill is a result of an ongoing effort on the part of Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga) to ban the spending of defense dollars on sponsorships (they’ve targeted NASCAR sponsorship in particular). We’ve been following this political initiative with our Sponsor Eye since Rep. McCollum took up the issue in 2010, and subsequently lost a House vote to keep the military out of sport sponsorships in 2011. You can see some of our tweets about it here and here, with links to Wall Street Journal and USA Today pieces.

While we can’t be certain that the bill is the whole reason the Army made its decision to pull out of NASCAR, we have a hunch it played a not-so-insignificant role. In any case, it’s an issue worth our two cents.

Let’s look at the Reps.’ argument: they assert that the approximately $136 million sliver of the defense budget spent on sport sponsorship is wasteful, as it doesn’t garner enough return in recruitment numbers.

Before moving forward, can we take a step back and look at some math?

The 2012 Department of Defense spending budget is around $707 billion (that’s billion with a B). At $136 million allocated for sport sponsorship spending, Reps. McCollum and Kingston are making a big fuss about a %.02 savings. And at only $8.4 million going towards NASCAR sponsorship specifically, it’s an even smaller margin. With government spending at an all-time high, going to battle over such teeny savings seems pretty petty.

Decimal points aside, who are two politicians with absolutely zero background in sponsorship effectiveness to say that military sponsorship of sport — in particular, NASCAR — is ineffective on the grounds that the recruitment numbers aren’t there? The Army has exceeded its recruitment goals every year since it started its relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing. But that’s almost beside the point.

Having been on the inside of researching military sponsorships, we have seen enormous opportunities and in some cases, very strong return on objectives —but maybe the Reps aren’t focusing on the objectives that really matter.

The goal of a sponsorship is never about sales, or recruits, or numbers alone. Putting a  logo on the side of a race car isn’t going to suddenly bring a spike in sales or enlistees. Humans are more complex than that. Sponsorship is more complex than that. The Army’s relationship with NASCAR is — or at least, should be — about building national awareness and an emotional connection with fans, and not necessarily only those fans who are in their target recruit demographic of 17-24 year old males. There are older and younger siblings, parents, teachers, and coaches who love NASCAR, and who influence the life and career decisions of those they’re close to. When the Army builds an emotional connection with NASCAR fans, they’re not only reaching the people who show up at the event. We’d be interested to see if the sponsorship effectiveness report that influenced the Army’s decision took the more emotional side of the partnership into account, and looked at the Return on Relationship that NASCAR sponsorship is best at.

When government officials recently questioned the value of so-called “junk food” sponsors involved with the Olympics we were left thinking the same thing: politicians should stick to legislation, and stay out of making calls on sponsorship.

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Trevor Bayne and NASCAR – Open for Business

This past Sunday, as we all watched rookie Trevor Bayne win the Daytona 500 by edging out a field of seasoned Sprint Cup pros, we couldn’t help but laugh at what great value his current sponsors were getting! Despite the innocent rookie move of forgetting to thank his sponsors in the post race interview, he was providing some serious value to his corporate backers.

Now let’s talk about the reality of the situation moving forward. Trevor Bayne is barely 20 years old and on the top of the world. Of course, while no one may even expect him to win the rest of the year (he isn’t even slated for the whole season at this point), one thing is for sure, guaranteed media attention. He is a media dream and an onslaught of new fans (over 20,000 new twitter followers since winning the race) will catapult him into the big time and the sponsorship should follow.

Sponsors that are considering whether or not to support Bayne have the opportunity to align with him right after his big win and be the saving grace that ensures his presence in NASCAR. Besides the long term results, these sponsors would immediately receive praise from his legions of new, soon to be loyal fans. We already know from past Performance Research Independent Studies that 72% of NASCAR fans would almost always or frequently choose the brand they associate with NASCAR over one that is not associated with NASCAR, and we can only expect this number to hold true for the sports new golden boy, if not be even higher.

That being said, we are keeping our ‘SponsorEye’ open, looking for the brand that jumps at this opportunity and attempts to make Trevor Bayne the household name that he has so much potential to become. In the meantime we anxiously wait to hear what Trevor decides to name his very own sundae later today at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco!

For more on Performance Research and our Independent Studies check us out at www.performanceresearch.com

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What Sponsors Want To See!

Check out how much NASCAR fans really do know the sponsors:

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