Each year, NASCAR honors an industry partner that best exemplifies the spirit of the sport through its effort to engage millions of fans, consumers and employees. The Marketing Achievement Award has long been the gold standard for brands invested in the sport and sought after by some of the most recognizable brands in the world.
During a year underscored by significant change, the honor will be bestowed to a group of four brands for the first time in history. NASCAR’s Premier Partners: Busch Beer, Coca-Cola, GEICO and Xfinity are the 2020 NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award winners.
The start of the 2020 NASCAR season was highlighted by a historic shift in its sponsorship structure, one that fundamentally changed how the NASCAR Cup Series was presented to millions of fans each weekend. The sport transitioned from the traditional singular series title sponsorship, a model that had been in place for nearly 70 years, to one that highlighted four blue chip brands as Premier Partners.
NASCAR’s Premier Partners are long tenured in NASCAR and have been involved across various areas of the business for decades. There was not a partner or stakeholder in NASCAR, however, that could have been prepared for the events of 2020.
“We knew heading into this season that transitioning to this new model would come with some key learnings, and that was before a global pandemic hit and completely shifted how we conduct our respective businesses,” said Jill Gregory, EVP and Chief Marketing and Content Officer, NASCAR.
In May, NASCAR became the first major professional sport to return to competition and with all eyes on the sport, NASCAR’s Premier Partners stood strongly by its side. The partners demonstrated leadership and innovation across each platform it supported, including important initiatives like esports, the introduction of new technologies, sharing of best practices on diversity, equity and inclusion, elevating the profiles of NASCAR’s drivers, and developing unique content and broadcast integrations.
“In working with global leading brands, NASCAR had the benefit of sharing best practices and collaborating on initiatives that are helping us affect change and shape the future of our sport,” said Gregory. “Their commitment to NASCAR has been unwavering and for that reason our Premier Partners are deserving of the 2020 Marketing Achievement Award.”
NASCAR’s Premier Partners continued to set an example with unique activation:
NASCAR’s partnership with Busch served as a great example of how unique and engaging content can transcend challenging times. Starting with the historic Busch Clash, Busch engaged fans throughout the season with unique brand campaigns, such as For The Farmers, a campaign that supported Midwest farmers impacted by tornadoes in 2019; to Your Face Here, giving fans the chance to “be back at track” by having their name on a car when NASCAR returned to racing at Darlington Raceway. And as fans sought out ways to celebrate the NASCAR Championship, the Busch and NASCAR teams put together a Ultimate Fan Championship Tailgate promotion where fans entered to win a chance to have a championship race track experience at home.
2020 did not slow down the Coca-Cola team. The partner leveraged its new Premier Partner status to elevate their marketing commitment to NASCAR year-round. This year was highlighted by two entitlement races (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway), a presenting partnership of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, support of military and frontline workers through NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola, and as the presenting partner of the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Trophy. Additionally, Coca-Cola voiced its commitment to change and showed strong leadership and support of NASCAR’s efforts to diversify the sport.
GEICO celebrated the start of the racing season by introducing its “NASCAR Returns” platform to millions of fans. When the season was paused due to COVID-19, GEICO sponsored the virtual Talladega Pro Invitational Race – one of the highest viewed esports events in history. When NASCAR returned to the track at Darlington, GEICO sponsored the 100,000 Cameras show that told the story of NASCAR’s return to racing through the eyes of drivers, crews, and most importantly fans. Additionally, GEICO enhanced their on-track and in-broadcast presence of the Restart Zone series by creating a weekly custom content series anchored by Jeff Burton airing across NASCAR’s social channels. And when NASCAR began to gradually welcome back fans, GEICO’s brand was front and center through its sponsorship of NASCAR track campgrounds.
Xfinity strengthened its role as an industry leader, working to grow the sport on a national and regional level by leveraging its portfolio of Comcast NBCUniversal assets. Xfinity had big plans going into 2020, its first year as a Premier Partner after building fan awareness as the entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2015. Prior to the sport returning at Darlington, Xfinity unveiled a new 30-second commercial, titled “Return of Loud.” Additionally, Xfinity purchased signage at the track to thank frontline workers battling COVID-19 and became the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series playoff cut-off race at Martinsville Speedway, the Xfinity 500. Once again, Xfinity brought to light the incredible philanthropic work being done across the industry through its Comcast Community Champion Award naming NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace as its 2020 award recipient.