Arnold Captures CART Victory

Arnold has won the advertising account of Championship Auto Racing Teams.

The McLean, Va., agency outperformed Wieden + Kennedy of Portland, Ore., and McCann-Erickson’s De-troit office in a review that began in May. Billings are estimated at $10-15 million.

CART in Troy, Mich., is one of two North American “open-wheel” pro racing organizations. The group competes with the Indy Racing League, which it left in 1995.

“Arnold gave the most compelling strategy for our existing and potential fans,” said CART senior vice president of marketing Rich Henley, who oversaw the review. “Arnold’s strategy educates the fan on the product. You can’t wait until the race comes and you can’t wait until it’s on TV.”

A branding campaign based on emotion and tapping into the mindset of fans will debut in early 2002. Media will include USA Today, Sports Illustrated and local newspapers in cities on the CART circuit such as Chicago, Montreal, Toronto and Long Beach, Calif.

Radio and TV advertising will follow. Arnold will also handle public relations, direct mail and event marketing.

Arnold’s challenge: reverse CART’s shrinking track attendance and low television ratings. The shop will also build the public’s awareness of drivers Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran and Jimmy Vasser.

“Nascar’s done a great job of making their drivers heroes,” said agency president Ken Umansky. “We’ll make ours superstars.”

Cart’s current tag, “The most advanced form of racing on earth,” developed in-house, will remain.

“But we’ll be looking over everything in terms of the brand,” said Umansky.

The client has signed an agreement with Fox and CBS to air CART’s Champ Car racing, increasing coverage with Friday, Saturday, Sunday and supplemental programming on Fox’s Speedvision and sister cable channels. CBS Sports will carry races during the 2002 FedEx Championship Series.

The CART win, the fourth national account acquisition for the McLean shop in 2001, boosts billings by 35 percent, according to Umansky. The satellite’s $80 million in new billings this year is on par with the performance of its Boston parent.

Arnold’s other account wins this year are BBC/America in Bethesda, Md. (shared with Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, San Francisco), The Washington Post and Choice Hotels International, based in Silver Spring, Md.