From Roanoke Times & World News
ROANOKE, VA — There’s a trite phrase used with companies that market with NASCAR, said Karl Barnhart, a managing director at CoreBrand, a New York branding firm.
“You win on Sunday, and you sell on Monday,” he said.
Advance Auto Parts hoped that more customers would race to its stores after this past Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup at Martinsville Speedway. The Roanoke, Va.-based automotive parts retailer sponsored the cup series for the first year of a two-year contract. Advance’s black and white checkered flags and banners will fly high at the sold-out race, and thousands of fans will tune in on Fox.
Advance’s motor sports marketing division has been up and running for about 20 years. Advance has sponsored other events at the speedway, most recently the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. It’s been named the official auto parts store of the speedway.
The company also sponsors two race car drivers, Frank Kimmel and Cruz Pedregon.
But in the hierarchy of NASCAR races, “the cup races are at the top,” said Paul Klasing, executive vice president of stores for Advance.
“NASCAR fans are an important part of the business,” Klasing said. “It’s important that we continue to try to support the communities in which we operate, and this is in our back yard.”
Sponsorship with Advance is a “win-win situation” for the company and the speedway, said Clay Campbell, president of the speedway.
“It’s such a natural for us because we both are targeting the same customers,” he said. “Their customers are our fans.”
“Obviously, with the popularity of what NASCAR is experiencing right now, it’s a big plus for any company to be involved with it, to get your name out there in front of billions of people,” Campbell added.
With the cup sponsorship, Barnhart said Advance, like many companies, is “banking” on building a stronger name presence in hopes that “someone will slow down and stop at Advance Auto Parts the next time they need a part.”
Research shows that NASCAR fans are an ideal crowd for companies to target for brand loyalty, Barnhart said.
“People buy Tide because there’s a Tide car out there,” he said.
Klasing would not disclose the cost of the race sponsorship. It is one of several marketing initiatives that the company has used in the past several years to enhance its image.
Advance has rolled out a 2010 store prototype in at least 714 stores, with plans to reach 1,000 by the end of 2004. The new format includes bolder signs in stores and an auto parts counter divided into workstations for customers.
Barnhart said race sponsorship is an efficient marketing tool.
“It’s very focused,” he said. “It’s a one-time thing. They put all of their marketing effort behind this event, hope for a big event on Sunday and call it a day. It’s a smart way of being involved in the sport.”
Advance, the only Fortune 500 company based in Roanoke, is the second-largest retailer of automotive parts, behind AutoZone. Advance’s other main competitors include O’Reilly Automotive and NAPA Auto Parts.
Analysts predict growth in 2004 for Advance, which operated 2,546 stores at the end of 2003. They also have reported that Advance should increase operating margin to keep up with industry competitors.
Copyright 2004 Roanoke Times & World News. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All Rights Reserved.
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