Sprint and NASCAR took extensive measures to talk with race fans throughout the logo and name-review process, which included numerous focus groups and surveys. After receiving fan feedback, the decision was clear to focus on the Sprint brand and use a similar logo and name.
"NASCAR has an incredibly loyal fan base, and we listened closely to fan feedback to help make this decision," said Tim Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sprint. "It was a long and thorough process to determine how to integrate our NASCAR sponsorship into our overall brand strategy, while still keeping the NASCAR fan at the heart of the decision.
"The process extended well beyond the NASCAR sponsorship. This is an evolutionary time for Sprint Nextel’s brand. Our new brand campaign focuses on the importance of speed in people’s daily lives and illustrates their ability to get information where they want it, when they want it. NASCAR was built on a tradition of speed, so it was a natural tie for us."
Sprint replaced R.J. Reynolds’ Winston brand as title sponsor of NASCAR’s flagship property in 2004. From the onset, Sprint Nextel has engaged the company’s resources to raise the sport’s profile and foster a more intimate connection between NASCAR racing and its more than 75 million loyal fans.
"Sprint is a premier brand that Americans have known for decades," said Brian France, chief executive officer of NASCAR. "The company’s new brand direction is focused on speed and that has always been our business. It makes perfect sense for the Sprint name to be attached to our premier series. Sprint Nextel has shown an incredible commitment to the sport and our fans in the first few years, and we are excited about the technology enhancements they are planning for the future."
Refocusing the NASCAR sponsorship on the Sprint line of products and services coincides with the July 1 launch of "Sprint Ahead," a national campaign reflecting the value its products and services add to people’s lives. Building on that concept, Sprint will focus on a key attribute it delivers for its customers: speed or "SprintSpeed(TM)."
Nextel remains a vital part of the Sprint products and services mix. As a result, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series name and logo and Nextel-branded assets will remain for 2007. However, the "Sprint Ahead" brand identity will be evident in the NASCAR community as early as July 15 when Sprint will launch The SprintSpeed(TM) Million presented by Motorola Sweepstakes, a promotion in which one race fan is guaranteed to win $1 million.
"The best of NASCAR and the best of Sprint is inherently speed. We feel like we are bringing that key attribute together in many forms to enhance the lives of race fans, either at the track or at home," said Tom Murphy, vice president of experiential marketing for Sprint. "From The SprintSpeed(TM) Million, which will literally bring 12 lucky finalists as close as you can get to the sport, to our wireless products and services that have enhanced the experience of race fans and industry partners, Sprint remains steadfast in its commitment to improve the sport through technology and by bringing the fans closer to NASCAR."
Products such as FanView and interactive displays such as Sprint’s 10,000-square-foot at-track mobile-marketing display have exponentially enhanced fans’ at-track experiences. Further, significant investments in the series points fund and All-Star race have raised the level of competition among the drivers and teams. Sprint also has been an advocate of many NASCAR-related charities including support of the NASCAR Foundation and a significant commitment to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.
"It is our mission to ensure a name change will not alter the way fans view the sport or the way we support it," said Murphy. "This is a thrilling sport with deep historical roots, and we will continue to honor that past and help the sport be even better in the future."
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving 53.6 million customers at the end of the first quarter 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR), which began in 1948, is the sanctioning body for one of America’s premier sports. NASCAR is the #1 spectator sport - holding 17 of the top 20 attended sporting events in the U.S., the #2 rated regular season sport on television with broadcasts in more than 150 countries, and has 75 million fans that purchase more than $2.1 billion in annual licensed product sales. These fans are the most brand loyal in all of sports and as a result, more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport. NASCAR consists of three major national series (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) as well as eight regional tours and one local grassroots series. NASCAR sanctions 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 35 states, Canada and Mexico. Based in Daytona Beach, NASCAR has offices in Bentonville (Ark.), Charlotte, Concord (N.C.), Conover (N.C.), Los Angeles, New York, Mexico City and Toronto.
For the press release, high-resolution logos or the press conference transcript, please visit www.sprint.com/nextelcup or www.nascarmedia.com. For more information about Sprint’s new brand identity, please visit www.sprint.com/ahead.
SOURCE: Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel Media: Becky Cox, 704-634-5899 firstname.lastname@example.org or NASCAR Ramsey Poston, 386-681-4353 email@example.com