The top level of racing in NASCAR has a new title sponsor and it’s an energy drink.
Monster Energy was announced today as the new sponsor of the Cup Series beginning in 2017, culminating a two-year search by the sanctioning body for a company to take over naming rights of the series. They replace outing series sponsor Sprint who announced in December of 2014 they would not continue their affiliation with the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
While news about their sponsorship had already broken in the hours leading up to the announcement, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made it official today during a press conference at the Wynn Las Vegas luxury hotel. Along with France was Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy.
“Monster Energy is a brand built on excitement and enthusiasm, qualities that align with NASCAR,” France said. “This sponsorship position is the most unique in all of sports and entertainment, and we are thrilled to have a partner that will help us further elevate the series. Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thorough search, one that resulted in the right partner at this important time in our sport’s history.”
Hall was asked, given Monster Energy’s reach with other properties, why they chose to go into business with NASCAR. He responded, “because we do market in a non-traditional way.”
“One component that our primary competitor utilizes that we haven’t is media,” he said. “They routinely buy traditional television and traditional media, and we never have. We have never created a commercial or an ad. We’ve done different things that we’ve been successful getting a lot of eyeballs on, but I think looking at this opportunity and this close partnership to where our names are linked so synonymously, we’re thinking that this for us is a way to do traditional media. The reach of the connection and the partnership is going to be unique for us because our names will be closely associated, and every time you say NASCAR, we hope we’re going to say Monster Energy.”
Few details about the agreement were released in the announcement. Among those were that the agreement was “a multiyear agreement with some options” and that Monster Energy would have the naming rights to the All-Star Race. Any more specific details about the agreement weren’t disclosed.
“We never get into the specifics of contracts, but beyond contracts, our most important thing is to build a good partnership, and that transcends most partnerships,” France said. “Every partnership we’ve ever had in this category, which is only two, we always extended and always went on for a long time, and that’s our hope here.”
Other items not finalized for today’s announcement was the logo for the series or the official name, given reports that NASCAR was considering dropping the word “Cup” from the series title, going forward.
“We are working on the exact composite logo and otherwise, and we’ll be back shortly on that,” France added. “It won’t be long, but we’ve got some real good options on that. Not today.”
Monster Energy is only the third entity to sponsor top level of NASCAR competition, following Sprint/Nextel from 2004 to 2016 and Winston from 1971 to 2003. Each entity has brought a different philosophy on sponsorship activation to grow the sport. Winston/RJ Reynolds focused on marketing NASCAR in places it hadn’t been able to reach prior and Sprint focused on growing the sport through technology.
When asked what about Monster Energy made them a great fit for the sport, France said they’re an edgy and fun brand.
“They get at a millennial audience in a different way clearly than we’ve ever been associated with, particularly at this level, and they know what they’re doing,” he said. “This is their DNA. This is not something they’re rolling into, and frankly even Sprint and Nextel before them, this is motorsports and the level of commitment, that was all new to them.”