Sunoco Pumps Nascar Alliance

NEW YORK Sunoco will break two national TV spots touting its designation as the official fuel of Nascar, which will air during a time when consumers are taking a bigger hit than ever at their local gas pumps.

Although the 30-second ads, via SFGT in Philadelphia, featuring drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick, do not address economics, they do seek to put Sunoco in a consumer-friendly position.

The first spot, “Take Jimmie Johnson to Work,” breaks this week on TNT and then on NBC in October. “Take Kevin Harvick on Vacation” premieres next month. Both air in conjunction with Nascar coverage and the circuit’s Race to the Chase championship playoff series.

Philadelphia-based Sunoco is in the second year of a 10-year, $80 million-plus Nascar deal, having replaced Conoco Phillip’s Unocal 76 brand in 2004. The latter had held the race circuit’s official fuel designation for more than 50 years.

One spot sees a boisterous guy who takes Johnson, in full racing attire, to his office. “I’d like to go to lunch with you,” he says to a co-worker, “but I already have plans with JIMMIE JOHNSON.” At a corporate meeting, he’s detailing a project, then asks the driver, who is seated among the executives, “What do you think about that, JIMMIE JOHNSON?” A voiceover offers, “Okay, maybe you can’t take Jimmie Johnson to work, but you can take his fuel.”

The Harvick spot shows the driver on vacation with a family, with Harvick in a Jacuzzi, buried by kids in sand and on a tandem bike. Both ads end with the Sunoco sign and Nascar logo.

“You usually don’t see gas and you don’t touch it, so we looked for a way to transfer it to everyday experiences,” said Dan Reeves, executive creative director at SFGT. “The idea is to show how Sunoco is part of life and also how anyone can take a piece of Nascar with them wherever they are.”

Additional creative is in development at the agency.