The 60th annual edition of the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s Super Bowl, will be run on February 18th. JohnWallStreet got a chance to speak with Kevin Harvick, who finished 3rd in 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, about his relationship with the Busch brand, the details of a promotion that is sending 500 lucky fans to the Daytona 500 and his thoughts on Danica Patrick’s last NASCAR race (editor note: they’re honest).
JWS: Busch has been the title sponsor of your car since the ’16 season. What is it about the brand that made you want to align with them.
Kevin: The unique thing about Busch is they’ve been involved with NASCAR racing since the late 70’s. It’s also a brand that is specific to the age group that I fit in to; they’re not complaining that I’m too old or too young or about the things that I do, it’s just kind of a natural fit. Busch is not a brand with a bunch of athletes all over the place. They’re very focused on racing, hunting and fishing, so our brands are very similar. When you find a great fit like that it’s easy to support the things that they do.
JWS: Busch is running an amazing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style promotion (you can enter, here), sending 500 fans to the Daytona. Pull a golden checkered Daytona 500 can from an 18, 24 or 32 pack of Busch or Busch Lite and you’ll attend the 60th annual Daytona 500. What exactly does the promotion include?
Kevin: For those of us who know what Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is, right (laughing). It’s not just a ticket to the race, it’s a VIP trip to the race. You get your airfare, your hotel room and an amazing experience at the race track. I know I’ll be at the hotel on Saturday night to spend a couple hours with them (the winners). It’s an over-the-top experience. Busch is all-in.
JWS: NASCAR teams and drivers have struggled to fill sponsorships of late, but Busch is increasing their commitment to the sport. In 2017, BUD grew its value brand portfolio share of category 3.02% within the Daytona Beach market. Why is NASCAR working as a marketing platform for Busch, but not some of their competitors?
Kevin: Busch has made the commitment to not only sponsor the car, but to spend money on the activation side of things; to make sure people know their involvement in the sport, know who they’re involved with. It’s a natural fit with the NASCAR fan because they’ve been involved with the sport for so long and their target market is right in the demographic of who NASCAR fans are. So, there’s several things that make it work, from activation to the race car being on the track; but, a key is wholesalers buying into the program and helping to promote in those local markets. You’ll see that in Daytona, the Bowler family (runs Daytona beverages) does a great job activating and helping Busch in that market. Another piece is the appearances at Kroger’s, Walmart & Sam’s Club; the in-store activations go hand-in-hand with the wholesalers to increase your buys.
Howie Long-Short: AB InBev (BUD) had a strong start to 2017 (or at least one that beat analyst estimates), but “soft sales in the U.S.” resulted in a 1.2% volume decline in Q3. Sales to wholesalers dropped 3.4%, with sales to retailers declining 6.4%. The good news? BUD grew global revenue 3.6% (to $14.7 billion) despite 2 September storms that negatively impacted shipments to Florida & Texas.
Fan Marino: The 2018 Daytona 500 will be Danica Patrick’s last NASCAR race (yawn). Does she get too much promotion?
Kevin: Look, Danica survived off publicity, that’s how she got here. She was very popular and had the opportunity to come to NASCAR with sponsorships and made a lot of money; but, in the end, performance trumps the marketing tool. I think you now see that with the quality and the team she’s going to come back and run the Daytona 500 with. The opportunities are a lot less than what she had. I don’t think she gets too much publicity, she’s done things inside of a race car that no female has ever done; but when you are in sports, you must perform. Black, white, girl, boy, it doesn’t matter, at some point that performance is going to matter; in the end, I think that’s the road it went down with Danica.