TNT Looks to Gas Up for Daytona

Still has sponsor openings in Nascar Coke Zero 400

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR


With just days before the checkered flag goes up at Daytona International Speedway, TNT is still looking to nail down a few sponsors for its “Wide Open Coverage” of the Nascar Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400. 

The Turner network has lined up six sponsors for its uninterrupted race coverage, including returning clients Coke Zero, Coors Light, Pfizer, Sprint, and Toyota. Also revving up for the July 2 race is Warner Bros., which will promote a pair of upcoming comedies in Horrible Bosses and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

This time last year, TNT had secured eight “Wide Open” sponsors. Notably missing from Saturday’s roster is a representative of the fast-food category; TNT’s 2010 coverage of Daytona boasted a pair of QSR sponsors (Burger King and Subway). Analysts say the fast-food business began suffering the ravages of the recession about nine months after the automotive category began to feel the burn.

That Burger King bowed out is not terribly surprising, given the chain’s recent marketing travails. In February, the company sent global chief marketing officer Natalia Franco packing; two weeks later, it broke ranks with longtime agency partner Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Last year, the nation’s No. 4 restaurant chain spent $301 million on measured media, down 2 percent from 2009 and 8 percent versus its 2008 outlay.

Now ranked second among all fast-food purveyors, Subway will once again serve as the presenting sponsor of the July 1 race at Daytona, the Nascar Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250. The qualifier will not be televised.

Subway in 2010 laid out $429 million in media buys, up 11 percent versus the previous year.

Turner Sports hopes to lock in at least one more sponsor before Saturday’s prime-time race. Presented in letterbox widescreen format, the “Wide Open” construct cedes the lower third of the screen to advertisers, allowing TNT to limit the number of ad interruptions during the race. The stretched-out aspect ratio also provides a more unobstructed view of the action.

In place of the standard spot load, TNT’s Daytona 400 showcase places animated sponsor messages in the lower third, rotating them throughout the race. Because the sponsor brands are present throughout the race, fans see nearly 100 percent of the action. In the last two years, TNT hasn’t missed a single lap of Daytona, and since the network launched the concept in 2007, it has failed to present a grand total of nine laps.

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