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« on: December 08, 2007, 11:02:00 PM »

Coke/NASCAR sponsorship deal to last another 10 years

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/07/07

Coca-Cola is extending its marketing partnership with NASCAR for another decade, an arrangement that promotes the world's largest beverage company and its products to a U.S. fan base of 75 million people and millions more worldwide.

The extension of the Coke-NASCAR relationship follows the announcement earlier this year of a new 10-year sponsorship agreement with the International Speedway Corporation, which meant Atlanta-based Coke bumped Pepsi out of the prestigious Daytona 500 and other ISC tracks.

NASCAR spokesman Steve Phelps said most NASCAR sponsorships "average around 5 years," putting the latest move between Coke and the racing franchise it runs through 2017 in a unique category.

"They're certainly an iconic brand, and one we want to be involved with for many, many years," Phelps said. "It just felt right to do a longer term deal."

Coke spokeswoman Bea Perez, a senior vice president in charge of sports marketing, would not comment on the cost of the deal, but referred to it as one of the largest corporate sponsorships in the nation.

"The brand positioning and the consumer fit is perfect for the brand and perfect for the sport," she said.

The NASCAR extension will be officially announced Friday.

NASCAR is the top spectator sport in the U.S., and it ranks second in sports television viewers, right behind professional football.

NASCAR has recently expanded into Mexico and Canada and has television viewers in more than 100 countries.

Perez said the deal will allow Coke to market new products, like Coke Zero, to a group of sports fans with exceptional brand loyalty.

"We have a long-term commitment with this sport," Perez said. "We want to be there. It's given us proven results."

Coke has been involved with stock car racking for more than 40 years, and the brand officially teamed with NASCAR in 1998. A key part of Coke's marketing approach is the "Coca-Cola Racing Family" a group of drivers that incudes Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Petty, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip. The drivers make appearances and are featured in advertising, promotions and packaging.

The company also sponsors the Coca-Cola 600, held annually at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. In 2008, Coca-Cola also will assume title sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Daytona International Speedway during Fourth of July weekend. An official announcement of the new race names is expected early next year.

Coke/NASCAR sponsorship deal to last another 10 years

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