Nascar has partnered with ESPN and is launching a promotional campaign for its upcoming playoffs, known as the Chase for the Nascar Sprint Cup, in which 16 drivers will race for the fastest title on earth.
The campaign will portray the drivers as nations, pitting them against one another on the racetrack as if going to battle, reports The New York Times. The ads will feature scenes of drivers connecting with fans online and in person, portraying them in an affable light. So far, drivers Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, and brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch are among those chosen for the campaign, which will extend to social media.
As Nascar COO Brent Dewar told the Times, the campaign's concept is "authentic" to the stock car association's image. The brand often uses the rallying cry "Nascar Nation." In the playoffs, fans can now rally around "Carl Nation," "Jimmie Nation" and others, depending on which driver they root for.
Developed by Ogilvy & Mather in New York, the campaign marks Nascar's latest effort to reverse its recent slide in U.S. attendance and viewership, which peaked in the mid-2000s but has since been outpaced by soccer, as indicated by a recent Exponential study.
According to Ogilvy & Mather New York president Adam Tucker, the race-between-nations theme of the new campaign should "stoke the passion" of hardcore fans and draw in younger enthusiasts. He told the Times he didn't think it would offend fans at a time when real-world nations are fighting. "It's all done in the context of racing," he said.
The Chase for the Nascar Sprint Cup will air on ESPN between Sept. 14 and Nov. 16.