06 August 2009

The Hunt for The Title Sponsor

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the IndyCar Series may be close to adding a title sponsor. In and of itself, that news is great. However, I've heard that now for over a year, so forgive me for being a tad skeptical.

IndyCar Series commercial division president Terry Angstadt told the IBJ:
“You’ve caught me on a good week. We are talking to a company that is in the third stage of consideration. We’re darn close to being able to get that [title sponsor deal] done. The company we’re talking to is a big consumer brand, and it would be very good for the series.”
Two things from this - "the caught me on a good week" comment is interesting. Either Anthony Schoettle, who does an excellent job in the IBJ's sports section, really did just time things right in talking to Angstadt, or the hunt for a title sponsor has been very hit or miss. In Schoettle's article, it is even admitted that the search has run hot and cold, and I worry that this could just as easily run cold again.

On the positive side of the ledger is the fact that this sponsor is in the third stage of consideration, meaning that they have been in negotiations for some time with the IndyCar Series. It could be one of the companies mentioned last year during the title sponsor chase, such as Subway. No matter the company, it needs to be one that people across the country will recognize, whether it comes in the form of Best Buy (Best Buy Cup?), Subway (Subway IndyCar Series) or AT&T.

Honestly, I think that targeting AT&T or Verizon Wireless makes the most sense for IndyCar. Both companies have been squeezed out of NASCAR due to Sprint's title sponsorship of the series, leaving them with cash from car sponsorships to use, presumably. They could directly compete with Sprint by sponsoring the IndyCar Series and working to help the series grow.

While whomever Angstadt inks to become the title sponsor of the IndyCar Series, that company will need to actively promote the series at every turn. For example, if Subway signed on to sponsor the ICS, then there needs to be promotional materials for IndyCar in stores across the country.

Whether it would come in the form of Tony Kanaan stand-ups in stores, advertising a race, or Danica Patrick creating a sandwich for the company, the title sponsor will have to actively connect its consumers with the drivers and series. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later.

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