Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Beginning in February, 2010, prior to the famed Daytona 500, more than 15,000 theatres across the U.S. will start running a 90-second NASCAR long-form content piece, which could include racing highlights, top moments, driver profiles, behind-the-scenes vignettes and fan tributes.

Under a new three-year deal between Screenvision and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), approximately 45 million moviegoers each month will hear the roar of the motors and see the NASCAR content, which will be made available to NASCAR current partners for sponsorship on the big screen.

“NASCAR continues to forge partnerships to broaden our fan base and to provide creative opportunities and demonstrable value for sponsors,” says Steve Phelps, chief marketing officer at NASCAR.

“Screenvision will bring the excitement and drama of NASCAR to nearly a half billion moviegoers each year, including some who are avid fans and some who have yet to attend or watch a race on television. Fans want to experience our sport in every way possible, and we can’t wait for them to see and hear their favorite drivers running flat out on 40-foot screens with surround sound.”

NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport – holding 17 of the top 20 highest attended sporting events in the U.S., – and is the No. 2 rated regular-season sport on television. The new deal teams that No. 1 spectator sport with the No.1 leisure activity: the movies, and offers marketers a unique new way to associate their brands with NASCAR in the cinema environment. The partnership will be a 360 degree in-theater experience, with Screenvision also helping bring NASCAR – and its marketers sponsoring the content — into the lobby and concession environments.

“Taking such an exciting sport and bringing it to the big screen is absolutely breakthrough and thrilling for consumers and advertisers alike,” says Mike Chico, executive vice-president sales and marketing, Screenvision. “When you see NASCAR drivers rubbing fenders and trading paint at 180 mph on our 40 foot screens, it will take your breath away.

“This innovative partnership with NASCAR demonstrates how Screenvision continues to become an ‘enthusiast’ network with partnerships in music, gaming and sports creating dynamic content. With NASCAR, we will develop compelling pre-show programming year-round that adds value for moviegoers, advertisers and our exhibitor partners.”

Jim O’Connell, NASCAR’s vice-president of corporate marketing, says, “This is the latest in a string of innovative assets NASCAR is creating for our official partners to derive maximum value to meet their business objectives,” The deal marks the first time a sports organization has made such a huge commitment to marketing in the cinema environment. For NASCAR, it also comes at a time when the sports organization is looking to re-rev its engines and is looking at cinema’s unmatched 40 foot screen/surround sound impact as a way to reinforce its heart pumping appeal and help it – and the sports sponsors – attract cinema’s prime younger demo. Also for NASCAR, its furthers its connection to cinema which through its involvement in big screen blockbusters like Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Days of Thunder and Herbie Unloaded – as well as an IMAX movie – helped attract new audiences to the sport.

Screenvision becomes ‘The Official Cinema Advertising Partner of NASCAR’. NASCAR Media Group will create and produce a 90-second NASCAR long-form content piece each month. Screenvision will take the lead in advertising/sponsorship sales in collaboration with NASCAR. And Cinema Scene Media, acquired by Screenvision earlier this year, will handle the in-lobby posters and or digital screens, interactive kiosks and concessions – all expected to be part of the sponsorship package. Also expected are lobby promos, displays and events.

And while the deal is expected to largely involve one or more sponsors of Sprint Cup and perhaps Nationwide series drivers, teams and cars, the 90-second pre-show could involve material from any NASCAR properties.

No dollar figures have been announced, but NASCAR sponsors are among the world’s biggest marketers, so the revenue potentially flowing into Screenvision and its exhibitors via these sponsors clamoring to align their brands with the original NASCAR cinema content is expected to be significant.

Andy Blacker, senior vice-president marketing and research, Screenvision. says, “With this partnership, Screenvision is recognizing the tremendous potential of NASCAR, and we are creating the first ever in-cinema platform for partners to wrap their brands around.”

Screenvision provides marketers with ways to have their brands stand out from just on-screen ads. In the past year it launched the only live on-screen text polling platform; it became the first to bring 3-D advertising to theaters (Skittles brand); partnered with Cinema Scene to offer unique in-lobby interactive kiosks, 3d ad displays, and other opportunities; and recently launched an interactive in-lobby scanner kiosk that marketers can brand and provide select moviegoers to receive instantly provide rewards – such as coupons redeemable for concession and theater discounts.

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