The partnership between Coca-Cola and NASCAR is as symbiotic as it is long – stretching back some five decades right to the very roots of the sport. Since 1998, Coca-Cola has been the official sparkling beverage of NASCAR with the current deal one of their longest-tenured sponsorships. And this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 will be the 27th straight time the beverage giant has sponsored the sport’s signature longest race. July Fourth weekend will also mark the fourth running of Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on the high banks of the sport’s iconic track: Daytona International Speedway.
“The relationship between Coca-Cola and NASCAR is successful because we share the same passion to refresh and enhance the racing experience for fans,” said Ben Reiling, Director Sports Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “We’ve built a deep connection between our brands, NASCAR and its fans and we will continue to intensify that bond by creating even more programs that bring fans closer to our brands and the sport they love.
One such example is the Coca-Cola Family Track Walks, which provides fans with direct access to the racing surfaces of some of the most popular tracks. The 2011 schedule has already seen walks at Auto Club Speedway in March and Talladega in April and three more, including this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, are scheduled. The final two walks will be held at Michigan International Speedway in August and Texas Motor Speedway in November prior to the third last race of the season.
“Coca-Cola Family Track Walks are an uplifting, refreshing way for NASCAR fans to get up close and personal with their favorite sport while enjoying some active family fun at the same time,” said Stuart Kronauge, Vice President, Coca-Cola Trademark Brands, Coca-Cola North America.
Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip and Kurt Busch will be among drivers taking part in the second annual Coca-Cola Family Track Walks. “Getting out and getting active is important for everybody’s good health, and the Coca-Cola Family Track Walks are a great way for race fans to burn some energy on race weekend,” said Kurt Busch. “Track Walk participation last year was excellent, and I’m excited to get out and walk with tens of thousands of fans in the season ahead.”
A signature part of the brand’s NASCAR association is the Coca-Cola Racing Family – a group of top drivers that includes Greg Biffle, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Burton, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. Coca-Cola also maintains relationships with drivers Kevin Harvick, David Ragan and Elliott Sadler and with alumni drivers Dale Jarrett, Ned Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Waltrip. Coca-Cola Racing Family members make appearances and are featured in advertising, promotions and packaging.
“Since the very first year of our official NASCAR relationship, and even prior to that with our early track and driver relationships, Coca-Cola and the brands we have associated with the sport of NASCAR have been able to drive brand awareness and likeability scores,” said Reiling. “We’ve been able to bring the sport to life in ways that helped us secure incremental and permanent displays and vending machine placement [for example NASCAR-specific vending machines with The Home Depot – Tony Stewart and now Joey Logano].
“And we helped launch the MyCokeRewards program in its early years using the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend as a catalyst to invite NASCAR fans to join and participate.” And the metrics back this up with two of the single highest registration days for MyCokeRewards coming after the 2007 and 2008 races where race fans were invited to sign-up.
NASCAR, as a sport, has always relied on trusted partners and the half-century relationship with Coca-Cola is, in many ways, a model example of how sport and sponsors can co-exist seamlessly. Such is the depth of the involvement that the brand connects with NASCAR fans at every level – locally, nationally, at the track, in store, at home and elsewhere.
Coca-Cola Track Walks
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About the author
Tony Lumbis has headed the Marketing Department for Frontstretch since 2008. Responsible for managing our advertising portfolio, he deals with our clients directly, closing deals while helping promote the site’s continued growth both inside and outside the racing community through social media and traditional outlets. Tony is based outside Philadelphia.
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