This is the first in an occasional series about how NASCAR sponsors are using their marketing opportunities in the sport. Up first: Xfinity, which relaunched its Xfinity Stream app this week and is making a big push to get the word out. Matt Lederer, Comcast’s executive director of sports marketing, spoke on behalf of the company.
What do you see as the identity of the Xfinity Series, particularly in light of fewer Cup drivers being able to participate in the races this season?
We love this idea of “Names Are Made Here.” We love not only the format changes, but some of the driver restriction changes. We want more Xfinity drivers hoisting the trophy in victory lane, because we think that’s good for the sport.
We’re excited Stewart-Haas is bringing in a full-time Xfinity car, Junior (Motorsports) is expanding to four full-time Xfinity cars. We knew making those changes were all going to be steps in growing more drivers into the series. I’d expect we’re going to see more Xfinity drivers in victory lane this season.
How does the Dash 4 Cash idea fit into what you guys do, and why is it so important to you?
What Dash 4 Cash provides is the ability to focus on four Xfinity drivers in those weeks — so it supports the “Names Are Made Here.” Even if the guy doesn’t get into victory lane, that allows you guys (in the media) and the networks to focus in on someone whose name is being made.
Also, we get a lot more brand mention and visibility on those weekends. The idea of the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash is good exposure for us.
Lastly, the drivers like it. They really do. And they’re so good to us, we want to make sure we do something for them.
What’s your strategy in how you talk to NASCAR fans?
We like to have a brand voice of being the host. The Xfinity brand, if you’re a customer, you’re going to use it hundreds of times a day — whether it’s the Wi-Fi, whether it’s TV, whether it’s your phone (with the streaming app). What we want to convey is we’re NASCAR fans, too. We want to host you on a great adventure, and that adventure is going to include all of our products.
We’ve had a three-year strategy, and if anything, we’re ahead of where we wanted to be. Everyone said, “The fans are going to know you, they’ll love you, they’ll be loyal to you.” They have, and now we’re going to take that love and hopefully turn them into customers. But we’re not changing anything about the way we talk to NASCAR fans.
What’s something you guys have done that worked better than you thought and something that didn’t work as well as you thought?
The Comcast Community Champion Award that we give out at the end of the year has been amazing. We were given — as part of our sponsorship — the right to brand an award. Some sponsors do a great job. So how do we stand out? How do we break through?
The way it’s morphed into something amazing has probably been my favorite thing to work on as part of this partnership. We try very hard with our company brand to be a human brand and a compassionate brand. The attention and overwhelming outpouring of emotion we get for that award, I never anticipated it.
As far as the other part of the question, we love to do retail store appearances, but we’re still getting better at those. What we’ve learned is in order to really maximize those is we’ve got to get the outreach out there earlier that, “Hey, Brennan Poole is going to be in the Richmond store on Wednesday.” So how do we leverage our radio assets? How do we leverage our TV assets, our print assets to make people aware? So getting ahead of that is going to help us do those things and make them better.