GS&H Touts Sears Point Raceway’s Unique Appeal

Despite its reputation as the land of fine wine, scenic drives and unreasonable rents, Northern California is also home to Nascar racing.

Hyping the Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma to area residents is no easy task, then, given the sheer number of activities in the region. So instead of tailoring ads to hard-core racing fans, Grant, Scott & Hurley is positioning the raceway as an alternative to the high life.

“The Bay Area isn’t South Carolina, so we tried to say that this isn’t something you see every weekend,” agency principal Brian Hurley said. “We had to do that without alienating the real dedicated fans.”

The campaign, breaking now across Northern California, features print and radio ads and a TV spot. The track is open April to September and features seven events, the highlight being Nascar’s SaveMart 350 race in late June.

“The thing the raceway has struggled with every year is how to present the track as a great place to spend the weekend, while the place itself isn’t the attraction—the race is,” Hurley said.

In a print ad promoting an AMA Superbike Racing event, a cyclist is shown sliding on the ground after crashing his motorcycle. The text reads: “They say at 100 mph, water feels like cement. So what does cement feel like at 100 mph?”

In another ad for a Nascar event, text reads: “This summer, surprise her with a weekend in the wine country she’ll never forget.”

The TV spot, also touting AMA Superbike Racing, opens with bikes zipping around a curve as a tinny voiceover says, “Follow the equation.” The spot then proceeds with a quick montage of images, set to driving music, that all add up to the Superbike Racing experience. The images include wrestling, a man getting hit in the stomach by a cannonball and a monkey banging on a drum. The sole “minus” in the equation is a girl playing hopscotch.

The client could not be reached for comment. GS&H has handled advertising for the track for three years. The campaign has an annual production budget of $150,000 and media spending of $1 million.

The shop also works with the San Francisco Chronicle.