Matt Dibenedetto took to Twitter this week asking for help with sponsorship for his GoFas #32. The NASCAR community responded accordingly and have helped Dibenedetto money wise and sponsorship wise.
Thursday presented everyone with the CEO of Earth Water admitting on LinkedIn that the company is trading product for sponsorship. Meaning no money is exchanging hands and Earth Water is shipping some bottles of earth’s natural thirst quencher to Ron Devine and his ragtag bunch.
Two instances in one week have prompted NASCAR writers and talking heads to bemoan about the financial state of the sport. Saying that the sport is so unhealthy that major sponsors don’t see the return on investment required to sponsor a car. Some have called what Dibenedetto did a “tragedy.” Then saying that the economic viability of the sport is worse than it ever has been.
While the sport is certainly expensive and really should work on proper cost-cutting measures other than pit guns and tire changers the problem isn’t solely economic. A larger part of the problem is how NASCAR’s TV partners promote drivers and teams.
No TV Time = No ROI
Sponsors are weary of hoping on mid to back of the pack cars because their ROI will be so little. If a sponsor has the option to hop on front of the mid-pack Ricky Stenhouse Jr or Mat Dibenedetto they’re picking Danica’s Ex 10 out of 10 times.
Because Richard Stenhouse Jr. is far more likely to be on TV than the #32 or the #55 or the #23. The #17 will be on TV for something other than a wreck or getting his doors blown off for the 7th time as the leader blasts by him like he’s trying to catch the speed of light.
Convincing a sponsor to be on a car where realistically only the people at the track will see your logo is a hard sell. Especially when you consider the amount of time FOX or NBC spends focusing on the Top 10 cars.
In 2014 through the first half of the year Jimmie Johnson was mentioned 105 times, compare that to 15th place Kurt Busch who only had 48 and you can see the discrepancy. Matt DiBenedetto is mentioned far less than that of Kurt Busch. Generally, he is only mentioned if he wrecks or by the grace of Ricky Craven has a really good run like he did in the Daytona 500. Since his performances aren’t sustained week in and out getting a primary sponsor for a weekend is very hard.
In order for sponsors to hop on these lower running teams, NASCAR’s TV partners need to show them during a race broadcast. Some of the best racing happens in the back of the pack. While the Top 10 is spread out and Mike Joy attempts to make Kevin Harvick’s 6-second lead interesting the backmarkers are duking it out like 29th pays $1M to finish. Show that racing, it’s better than watching cars running by themselves.
Once the TV partners start showing people other than JGR, SHR and HMS cars sponsors will be more likely to hop on their cars. You have to give them a little guarantee on exposure for them to feel like their money is actually paying for it. Until that happens the major teams will continue to attract all the mainstay sponsors.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff