Nascar Picks SapientNitro to Rebuild Digital Engine

Sports juggernaut wants offline sponsors to integrate with Web, mobile and tablet

Nascar has tapped SapientNitro to facilitate a complete digital overhaul by the beginning of 2013, the companies announced today. When the stock car racing brand emerges from the design and technology provider's garage this January, Nascar expects advertisers to be wowed by its previously unavailable digital features.

The sports marketing juggernaut wants to create better opportunities for offline sponsors to integrate their efforts with its Web, mobile and tablet properties, said Marc Jenkins, Nascar's vp of digital media. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company is moving toward a philosophy underpinned by bringing the worlds of TV, live-event attendance and digital together, he suggested.

Advertisers will be able to “activate their participations more digitally and connect more intimately around the event,” Jenkins said. “Many of our most successful sponsors have found that digital advertising on to be a key component to their activation.”

SapientNitro will also be charged with revving up the interactivity of the user experience, per the digital media exec. “For us, it’s about personalization,” he said. “And Sapient truly understood that. [Data-based personalization] is the cornerstone of the platform we are building.”

Nascar and SapientNitro's deal follows up on the former's decision in January to manage its own digital properties, after leaning on Turner Sports for such duties since 2001. In seeking a partner to help with its digital tasks, Jenkins said the company reviewed “a breadth of opportunities and a bunch of categories” before choosing SapientNitro.

Two key factors appear to have helped SapientNitro win the account. The Boston-based interactive firm has consulted Nascar on advertising trends for well over a year. And it has seemingly built up credible chops in the sports/entertainment niche after recently servicing the digital needs of the WWE and NBA star LeBron James.

Meanwhile, Nascar remains in the market for an ad agency of record. Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, Leo Burnett and McCann Erickson are under consideration for the formidable account. When asked for an update, a Nascar spokesperson only disclosed that a selection was forthcoming during the next several months.

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