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Pulling double duty with knoodle’s agency clients and my high-level sports marketing clients has greatly expanded my knowledge base of long-term strategies employed in marketing.

Last week’s NASCAR event marked a first for me. Prior to this school year, I had little knowledge of the family-owned racing company. But as part of taking Journalism and Mass Communications 430: Sports Marketing & Campaigns, our class’ client is Phoenix Raceway, and our entire class was invited to participate. It was incredible. I spent extra effort on learning about NASCAR’s implementation of experiential marketing techniques and how brand recognition is key to its business model.

My professor had instilled in all of our minds the importance of putting pictures and research to the test, and I did so as I was physically able to see and experience the raceway. Running through my mind were all of the ways I could incorporate what I’ve learned throughout the semester and finally put it into action. As I came around the corner and saw the raceway, all my pent-up expectation and excitement coursed through me like it was Christmas morning.

After walking through the gates, I was amazed. There were numerous booths selling drivers’ merchandise, plenty of food stands and cardboard cutouts of drivers. Almost anything you could think of to make the experience as grand as possible—all things considered—was being done. My favorite part? Just as I walked in, the Rascal Flatts hit, “Life Is a Highway,” was blaring. An absolutely beautiful welcome, in my book.

We were lucky enough to be given INfield tickets, so we got as close to the action as we could get without actually being on the track itself. Sited all around the INfield were the numerous sponsor zones—Gatorade, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Dos Equis, Miller Lite and many more. To encourage social distancing, INfield ticket holders were assigned specific tables within their respected zones. For example, I was at table 129 in the Mike’s Hard Lemonade section. Others in my group were assigned to the Miller Lite zones at a specific table number. I thought this was a creative and effective way to not only boost ad revenue for those sponsors, but also keep pandemic protocols in mind.

Scott Rovn, VP of sales for the Phoenix Raceway, and our point-person for our project, gave us a complete tour of the inside of the INfield. Most of its signature features have been halted due to COVID concerns, and Scott explained that because of the major loss of revenue in these past months, they have had to rely heavily on sponsorships, which was clearly evident throughout the track.

Nothing—and I mean NOTHING—could have prepared me for what I experienced during this race. Up until last week, I hadn’t fully understood the appeal of NASCAR. Who wants to see cars drive around the track for 5 hours? But I get it now! The sights, the sounds, the smells—I got chills every time the cars came around. Might’ve slightly ruptured an eardrum, but it was worth it. Being at the race, in person, and experiencing everything I was able to, is something I will never forget.

Guess what? NASCAR just gained a new fan.

Kaitlyn Green | PR Intern at knoodle