When Will UPS Ditch NASCAR ?

When will UPS stop pumping millions of dollars into its fading advertising vehicle….. NASCAR? UPS is known around the world as the tightest ship in the shipping business, but it spends money like a drunken sailor when it comes to racing. A recent article in the CATSTOCKBLOG highlighted the problem for all sponsors:

“Caterpillar is among the prominent NASCAR sponsors that have to be asking themselves how much they really need to spend keeping racing teams afloat, especially in light of this Forbes magazine article highlighting just how far NASCAR has fallen from fan favor in the past five years. The woes: Cars look the same. Drivers look the same. Races look the same.”

Has UPS exhausted the benefits of its days at the track?

While Dale Jarret was not much of winner on the track by the time he came to UPS, the company enjoyed many years of successful advertising with its ‘Race the Truck’ campaign.  Jarrett was the perfect foil for UPS advertisements. Jarrett was the one time king-of-the-jungle that UPS reduced to a comical lion in the petting zoo manufactured by Madison Avenue.  But Jarrett didn’t win many races, and in 2007 he had a hard time even qualifying.

Are the glory days over?

“It can cost $10 million to recruit a winning driver and $25 million a year to race one car. Most teams raced two or three last year, and 90% of their operating budget came from corporate sponsors. The rich sponsorship deals signed during the fat years earlier this decade are expiring, and new sponsor money is drying up. Domino‚Äôs Pizza, a primary sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing, and Eastman Kodak, a sponsor of Penske Racing, threw in the towel after last season. Also gone are Coors Light and Tide.”

And then there’s the paradox of UPS trying to market itself as a ‘green’ company while tying its advertising campaigns to racing. NASCAR is not a ‘green’ sport. It’s a high pollution sport. It’s an enviromentalist’s nightmare. NASCAR has tried to soften it’s image this year by using a hybrid pace car, but once that car leaves the track, any thought of ‘going green’ is brushed aside.

While UPS can’t afford management raises or driver reward programs, does it make good sense to spend millions of dollars on one sport with a declining fan base? I think UPS sponsorship of NASCAR has run it’s course. I think it’s time to ditch NASCAR and spend our money on our own people, not on one racing team.