Stock car legends Richard "The King" Petty and the late Dale "The Intimidator" Earnhardt won the most Nascar season titles with seven apiece—putting them in rarified air among the many drivers who have raced over the decades.
Nascar and title sponsor Comcast will tap into their regal racing legacy to position the renamed Nascar Xfinity Series as the proving ground where future legends are born.
Four out of five Nascar fans are also NFL fans. Comcast will use the spotlight around this weekend's Super Bowl XLIX to promote the kickoff of the 2015 Xfinity series Feb. 21 at Daytona International Speedway.
Comcast and Nascar gave Adweek an exclusive look at the new campaign by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. The new spot will break Jan. 30 during NBC Sports Network's coverage of Nascar Hall of Fame ceremonies, then re-air on NFL Network's Super Bowl Saturday Night and NBC's coverage of the NFL Honors show the night before the Big Game.
Called "Out There," the first 30-second spot features a voiceover by the folksy Petty. The King notes there's some aggressive young Xfinity driver out there, right now, who could "intimidate The Intimidator."
Cut to a shot of Chase Elliott, the 18-year-old rookie who won what used to be known as the Nascar Nationwide Series last year. In a nod to Elliott's No. 9 car, Petty says there's some Nascar star of tomorrow who could end up winning eight or nine titles.
"Make no mistake about it. They're out there. I guarantee it," declares Petty. The tagline: "Names are made here."
The new spot by Goodby will be the first advertising attempt to rebrand the series under the Xfinity moniker, according to Matt Lederer, senior director of sports brand marketing for Comcast. The company signed a 10-year title sponsorship last year that will run through 2024.
Many Nascar stars such as 2014 Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick made their bones on the "minor league" Xfinity circuit. Earnhardt himself won the series' first race. Using the powerful image of The Intimidator is a way to tell fans they should get in on the ground floor with the "next great ones," said Lederer.
"For somebody to see an image of a Nascar Xfinity Series driver on the same screen with Dale Earnhardt's No. 3, they'll go: 'Oh, I get this connection. I get where these storylines are going. I have to watch Ty Dillon drive because this is a kid who's going to take it to the next level and become a superstar,'" Lederer said.
Goodby's creative team worked closely with Nascar to immerse themselves in the sport's history, Lederer added. Agency executives attended races and toured production houses in Charlotte, N.C., the heart of Nascar country. Goodby will also create long-form digital videos starring Xfinity drivers such as Elliott, Dillon and Daniel Suarez.
Nascar has a new generation of stars from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Danica Patrick. But does the marketing of Petty and Earnhardt (who was killed at age 49 during the 2001 Daytona 500) indicate Nascar is trying to replace those bigger-than-life personalities?
No, said Brent Dewar, Nascar's chief operating officer. He thinks it's more of an acknowledgement of the rungs drivers must climb to make it to the top. "It's a nod to the authenticity of the sport," said Dewar. "And it reflects the legacy of where drivers come through."