Truth in advertising: how to market IndyCar
The (your name here) IndyCar Series, by whatever name you want to call it, has a checkered past when it comes to marketing acumen. In recent years the Indy Racing League and its scion, the (your name here) IndyCar Series, have been second-rate at best in the selling of the series. The folding of the series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sales and marketing departments into a single entity called Hulman Racing will hopefully end years of internecine battles for sponsorship and sales. Mark Miles smartly hired C.J. O’Donnell as chief marketing officer and Jay Frye as chief revenue officer to work not only for Hulman Racing but for him. Their marching orders are simple: make us visible and make us money.
Of course the marketing bar for both the series and the Indianapolis 500 have never been set very high. If not for marketing partners Firestone, Honda, and IZOD, the series would have had no advertising of note in the last few years. And the Indianapolis 500 has always sold itself in odd ways. The Gene Simmons “I am Indy” experiment should never have been let out of the laboratory, and last year’s #Indy500orBust Twitter campaign, while trendy, probably did not increase attendance to any great degree. As a long-time sell out, the 500 never really had to market extensively. When attendance waned after the split, the 500 found itself having to market a race that was once a guaranteed full house. I just want to let C.J. O’Donnell knows that New Track Record is here to help. Allow me to offer some new marketing slogans that highlight the truth about IndyCar racing.
IndyCar – No title sponsor needed. Just embrace the reality. This series can stand on its own. Let people know that pride and history are all that are needed.
The IndyCar Series – Now condensed into a shorter season. Don’t hide from the fact that the series is afraid to go head-to-head with NASCAR, college football, and the NFL. Sell that decision as somehow benefiting the race fan by freeing them up to watch other programming. IndyCar is the series that cares about all of your teams.
The IndyCar Series – You don’t have to worry about what to wear after Labor Day. IndyCar can position itself as a cutting edge pop culture icon by appealing to the female fan’s interest in fashion. No longer will someone have to decide if white is acceptable at a race after Labor Day. The IndyCar Series will make that decision for you.
IndyCar – Quite possibly an international series. Remember, you can sell not only what is, but the possibility of what may be. IndyCar wants to be international. We can just leave it at that.
The IndyCar Series – Family owned and operated. Markets often use the “plain folks” sales technique. This appeals to the small town person inside us all. A family owned and operated business always means folksy advice and values. We just won’t mention provincialism, shortsightedness, family squabbles, and soap opera stars masquerading as celebrities at the 500.
The IndyCar Series – It’s all about the month of May. Don’t hide the fact that the series takes a back seat to the Indianapolis 500; embrace it. I’m sure the glitter of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will sprinkle the pixie dust of success on the series.
IndyCar – What we lack in innovation, we make up for in dysfunction. If you can’t sell what you want to have, then sell what you do have. The series has a car that allows little team innovation. Every garage has the same car and looks the same. If you can’t sell the tech, sell the screwed-up relationships among the owners, drivers, officials, and the series. And go ahead and add the fans in the mix. They’re crazy, too.
IndyCar – Where innovation and technology don’t exactly go hand-in-hand but kind of walk together, not like friends but more like acquaintances or people you know at work. OK, this one needs a little work. There’s a kernel of truth in that sentence somewhere, but it might need a little editing.
There you go. I want C.J. O’Donnell to know he can use any of these. Consider them my gift to the (your name here) IndyCar Series. Of course, my marketing slogans may be a little too truthful. The marketing team at Hulman Racing may have another direction in mind. At least I hope they do.