In 2013 Annual Conference, 2013 Conference - Tuesday, 2013 Conference - Updates

FPRA 2013 Annual Conference: Breakout 3C, Driven to Innovate: Learn about NASCAR’s New Integrated Marketing Communications Model with David Higdon, Managing Director, Integrated Marketing Communications, NASCAR

By Whitney Fike

David Higdon

The loudest party on earth, where anything can happen and usually does.

Have you seen a NASCAR commercial or advertisement recently? They are much different than the NASCAR ads of three years ago. In 2010, NASCAR changed their communications department into an integrated marketing communications (IMC) department and began overhauling their existing marketing plan. The NASCAR IMC department works similar to an agency, with staff expertise supporting numerous business units.

For six months, an agency worked with the NASCAR IMC department to audit all current internal and external communications. Hundreds of interviews were held with NASCAR team members, track employees, drivers, sponsors and partners. The agency was invaluable to this process as they provided an unbiased outside perspective.

The Integration NASCAR needed:

  • Holistic/coordinated model
  • A unified and consistent message
  • Talent and accountability
  • Business planning
  • Resources
  • Market research and measurement

NASCAR realized that they were currently using an ineffective system for measuring media coverage. Instead of judging media mentions based on frequency and length, The IMC department, began classifying a successful story as one that conveyed the organization’s key messages. The agency did a great job of convincing the chairman of the power of earned media and framing the communications people has valuable revenue drivers for the organization.

A new plan, dubbed “IMC Vision 2014,” was created and the team has evolved over the past two years to execute against it. This vision calls for regular communication and integration in areas including Competition, Public Affairs/Crisis Management, Sports Car, Content, Digital/Social, Stakeholder, Business, Brand/Consumer Marketing, Broadcast & Entertainment, and Market & Media Research.

Higdon shared a few case studies with attendees including the success of the new Fan and Media Engagement Center. A state-of-the-art facility, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, that benefits the entire NASCAR industry by providing business impacting information tailored to specific audiences within the NASCAR ecosystem.

The Fan and Media Engagement Center also monitors social and traditional media using an advanced analytics platform created by Hewlett Packard. The platform is custom-tailored to deliver reports and measurement information to NASCAR stakeholders, including fan sentiment in online conversations. The software is so high-tech it can track the online conversation throughout a race and is designed to turn noise into insights. Stakeholders leverage these valuable insights during discussions with NASCAR business partners.

Higdon said don’t be obsessed with your twitter followers. Even if you had a million followers, you need to find the most important people. Who are the important people? It’s all about their credibility.

NASCAR has a new initiative that has not launched yet that is focused around key influencers in different fields, some not even NASCAR related. It will create an exclusive community for these key influencers allowing them to share information through their social vehicles.

Overtime Higdon believes that NASCAR will be the first major sport in which gender does not matter. The gender barrier will break down.

NASCAR: If you experience it, you’ll like it. We have to have a little fun. We are a sport after all.


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