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Integrating Outrageously

FullSizeRender 4I’m a fan of different books for different reasons.

Sometimes, it’s because of who wrote them. Other times, it’s because of the principles they contain.

In the case of author Jon Spoelstra’s Marketing Outrageously text, it’s both.

A former executive for the Buffalo Braves, Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, and New Jersey Nets of the NBA, and now president of Mandalay Sports Entertainment, Spoelstra is also author of other marketing best-sellers such as Ice to the Eskimos and Success Is Just One Wish Away.

In Marketing Outrageously, Spoelstra offers a dizzying array of examples, suggestions, tips, and steps to increasing revenue via unconventional means.

I’m regularly reminded of his principles, but I recently encountered an exhibition of them on a scale so outlandish until I absolutely had to write about it.

On February 21, I attended my first Daytona 500, which was also the first race held in the newly renovated Daytona International Speedway (DIS), billed as “the world’s first motorsports stadium” and the crown jewel of the $400 million Daytona Rising development project.

Living just minutes from the speedway afforded me the opportunity to watch its transformation happen over a period of many months, and although I knew the results would be spectacular from renderings I’d seen, they were unexpectedly mind-boggling when they materialized.

Part of the renovation of the speedway’s façade included the creation of five huge fan entrances called injectors that quickly funnel fans to a series of escalators and elevators that transport them to three different concourse levels.


Behind the injectors, each level features massive social areas that DIS calls “neighborhoods” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch.

For a clearer perspective on the scale of this project, consider this statement from Daryl Wolfe, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of International Speedway Corporation (ISC, the parent company of NASCAR and DIS): “We’ve essentially built something the size of a skyscraper laid on its side.

“The sheer scale of this facility makes it a modern marvel. Not only is it a mile long, but it has miles and miles of concourses.”

Mile(s) of concourses? That’s pretty outrageous!

Over a 19-month period, DIS signed four sponsoring brands to be founding partners, which gave them sole branding rights to one inIMG_2610jector of their own (the center injector was branded by the speedway itself but speculatively may be named for the new company NASCAR signs to replace Sprint as the lead sponsor of its top-level series beginning in 2017).

DIS’s deal with Toyota deal was struck in February 2014, followed by one with Florida Hospital in October 2014, one with Chevrolet in July 2015, and one with Sunoco in September 2015.


IMG_2611Although they weren’t taken on race day, the accompanying photographs show the colossal amounts of physical space in these injectors gave the four founding-partner brands to integrate their brands directly into the material elements of the motorsports stadium at a heretofore-unseen scale.

And integrate they did! From digital billboards, to speedway dioramas featuring authentic racing vehicles, to a test-driving course, to cutaway race car displays, these sponsors went full-bore in efforts to seamlessly incorporate their brands within almost two acres of the speedway’s proprietary elements in an effort to market outrageously.


So what sort of price tag did DIS charge its four founding partners to market on a scale like this?

According to the Sports Business Journal, industry sources pegged the four injectors with asking prices of $2-2.5 million annually over 10-15 years (anywhere from $80-150 million total, covering 20-37.5% of the cost of the Daytona Rising project).

IMG_2613While such a price tag may indeed be considered, well, outrageous (even by sport industry standards), consider the theoretical benefits from effective sponsorship integration on such a large scale.

The primary foundational principle of any sport sponsorship is to create symbiosis, or a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups).

The secondary foundational sport sponsorship principle is image transference, i.e., to transfer all of the passion, good vibes, and widespread attention generated by the sport property’s image to sponsoring brands to help them promote their wares.IMG_2614

Said another way, commercial companies have brands, which have products, which generate money, but need exposure.

Conveniently, sport properties have events and venues, which generate exposure, but need money.

While this can be done in ways that range from nearly obscure to entirely obtrusive, better forms of symbiosis happen via effective integration, i.e., combining one thing with another so that they become a whole.

IMG_2615A few things to consider when integrating a sponsorship into a sport property:

Does it look like it belongs there? Does it seem like it’s always been there? Does it look like part of the property’s DNA? Would people definitely miss it (and perhaps even be outraged) if it went away?

Such the ultimate achievement of symbiosis in sport sponsorship.

One clear example of a well integrated sponsorship is Levi’s Landing at AT&T Park in San Francisco, home to Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

Situated above the park’s right field wall is a handful of rows of bleacher seats, which feature three flag poles with Levi’s flags and four brick columns that briefly spew a plume of water after home runs and Giants wins.IMG_2617

Alongside the gigantic “LEVI’S LANDING” lettering on the brick side facing the playing field is the Splash Hits meter, which counts the number of times that season a home run ball has found its way into McCovey Cove, the body of Pacific Ocean water below the bleachers and the sidewalk outside the park.

Although originally known as Dockers Landing (another Levi Strauss brand), the iconic area of the park manages to compete well for eyeball time with the massive Coca-Cola bottle/playground slides and old-time baseball glove statue situated outside the left-centerfield stands, but not with the same outrageous juxtapositions employed by the bottle and the glove.

IMG_2618So wide is Levis Landing that virtually every fly ball hit to right field (of home run distance or not) becomes an instant live in-stadium and media promotional piece for the Levi’s brand.

And if it were somehow drastically altered, the ballpark just wouldn’t be the same.

As a result of this symbiotic integration, Levi’s enjoys a unique, strategic brand asset that would be virtually impossible for competitors to duplicate.

Multiply Levi’s Landing by a factor of five, and that’s the scale of the integrative sponsorship opportunity each injector offers DIS’s four founding partners.

The four brands also heavily activated their brands outside these injectors on Daytona 500 race day, but even when NASCAR’s high holy day isn’t happening, these gargantuan displays will spectacularly promote these brands around the clock to the city’s many year-round tourists, to attendees of the speedway’s year-round calendar of events, and to the 40,000-50,000 motorists who drive by them daily while navigating (ahem!) International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach’s de facto Main Street and shopping/dining destination.

Using high-end sponsorship cost estimates, a very conservative impression scenario, and (hopefully) reasonable logic, let’s analyze the sponsors’ return on investment for these enormously oversized sponsorship integrations.

In a scenario in which only 10,000 daily motorists on the boulevard are theoretically impressed (in marketing terms) by the injectors (that is, they actually notice them), and assuming the high-end sponsorship cost estimate of $6,849.32 per day for a $2.5 million-per-year injector sponsorship, each impression would roughly 68.5 cents, or has a $684.93 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) price tag.

For a point of comparison, I called Lamar Advertising for a quote on a 12-month ad display on a tri-vision highway billboard directly across International Speedway Boulevard from DIS.IMG_2619

Not including the cost for artwork, that figure was $36,400, or roughly a dollar per day, which, when using that same 10,000 daily impressions figure, translates to 1/100 of a cent per impression, or a CPM of 10 cents.

Yes, that’s an outrageous difference in cost.

But that raw economic figure says absolutely nothing about the image transfer component of the injector sponsorships, nor how heavily attuned fans on-site and off-site will be to them as part of their entertainment experiences!

After all, most of the fans will literally pass through the injector ads when entering the stadium.

Besides, think about how much stickier the sport-centric impression becomes when compared to an easily disregarded, largely emotionless medium like a billboard, especially when an ad is one of in a rotation of three!

And when positioned directly across the street from each other, which of the two displayed ads do you think will capture more attention?

In final consideration of the veins of marketing gold created by the injectors at Daytona International Speedway, despite their costs, I believe Spoelstra hit the nail on the head.

Why? Because the kind of marketing advantage created by sponsorships of such mammoth proportions can only be described in one word:


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