TNT Revs Up Nascar Clients

Turner Sports has sold out TNT’s telecast of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, signing on four new clients for the July 4 race, including: The Weinstein Company, Burger King, Pfizer and Goodyear.

In addition to the newcomers, six returning sponsors picked up avails during TNT’s “Wide Open” coverage of the race, which marks the fifth event in the network’s six-week schedule of Nascar Sprint Cup Series races.

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.

In place of the standard spot load, TNT’s Coke Zero 400 showcase places animated sponsor messages in the lower third, rotating them throughout the race. Clients also receive branded content, vignettes which are in many cases developed by Turner’s Creative Sports Services Unit.

This year marks Coke Zero’s second stint as title sponsor of the 400, which had been closely aligned with rival Pepsi-Cola since 1985. Key among the entitlements is a 60-second spot featuring the soft drink giant’s “brand managers,” two fictional Coca-Cola execs who rail against Coke Zero for ripping off the flagship brand’s flavor.

“Nascar fans embrace the sponsors, so it’s a great place to do these kind of integrations,” said Coca-Cola media director Susan Stribling. Coke enjoys a high profile in the Nascar community, sponsoring the Daytona race and the Memorial Day Coca-Cola 600. It is also the official soft drink of the International Speedway Corporation facilities, which include such iconic ovals as Daytona, Talladega and Watkins Glen.

Like soccer, auto-racing presents a challenge for sponsors, as naturally occurring ad breaks are rare. “Last year, only a few green flag laps took place during commercials,” said Jon Diament, executive vp, sales and marketing, Turner Sports. “The fan wants to watch more racing, and we can give it to them without having to sacrifice ad revenue.”

Incoming sponsor Burger King has purchased lower thirds and a 90-second spot featuring its eerily silent mascot and Nascar driver Tony Stewart. The long-form ad is the product of a collaboration between Turner’s CSSU and Burger King’s creative agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.