Fox Sells Out Daytona 500

Nascar’s prestigious race a proving ground for new creative

With less than 48 hours before the green flag goes up at the 54th running of the Daytona 500, Fox has sold out the last of its available advertising inventory. Spurred by a red hot sports marketplace and the promise of a major ratings jackpot, Fox moved the last remaining spots early Friday (Feb. 24).

As in the past, clients are using Daytona as a proving ground for new creative. Coca-Cola, an official Nascar partner, will bow a spot featuring drivers like Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano, who are seen tearing up the track to the strains of Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On.” Battling under a sweltering sun, each driver eventually gives in to Coke’s siren song, pulling into the pit to have a guzzle of the refreshing soda pop.

“The Daytona 500 offers the ultimate opportunity to reach millions of passionate Nascar fans and remind them why nothing goes better with racing than an ice cold Coca-Cola,” said Stuart Kronauge, svp, Coca-Cola Marketing. “The fanatical Nascar enthusiasts have come to expect Coca-Cola…to deliver an iconic commercial at this race, and this year will be no different.” 

A musical blast from the past also drives Sprint’s new spot. The entitlement sponsor of Nascar’s premier 36-race series, Sprint’s new 30-second ad features driver Clint Bowyer indulging in his passion for karaoke. The 32-year-old speed demon belts out Whitesnake’s 1982 hit “Here I Go Again” from behind the wheel of his custom Toyota Camry.

Sprint extended its Nascar sponsorship in December, taking on another three years to its original 10-year, $750 million contract. The telco first aligned with Nascar in 2004, unseating longtime backer Winston.

The insurance category will also rev its engines, as Farmers Insurance unveils a new :30 starring Kasey Kahne, driver of Farmers’ No. 5 car. The ad is the latest in the ongoing “University of Farmers” campaign. 

Including Kahne’s “Fire Suit” spot, four new Farmers ads will bow on national TV between now and June.

Last year’s Daytona 500 drew 15.6 million viewers, and while that marked a 17 percent improvement from the 2010 race (13.3 million), the deliveries were the second-lowest for a Fox-produced Daytona.

That said, the sport appears to be on the upswing. In 2011, Sprint Cup races on Fox were up 10 percent from the previous year, with an average draw of 8.6 million viewers. Fox inked an eight-year, $1.76 billion rights agreement with Nascar in 2007.

The clients aren’t the only marketers who will roll out new creative this Sunday. Under the banner “Everything Else is Just a Game,” Nascar has gassed up three fresh promos designed to fuel anticipation for the 2012 season.

The campaign was directed by Lara Shapiro and produced by Nascar Media Group.

“Following a thrilling to-the-wire 2011 season, Nasacar wanted to build on our momentum by breaking new spots on the broadcast of our sport’s biggest event,” said Kim Brink, Nascar Managing Director of Brand, Consumer & Series Marketing. “Using sports vernacular, we bring the vibrant and colorful world of Nascar to life, showing it is bigger, bolder, richer, deeper and faster than any other form of entertainment.”

Along with the aforementioned sponsors, Fox is getting a big lift from the Big Three and Toyota. All four manufacturers have ponied up for time in this year's broadcast.

Fox also enjoyed strong sales in the endemic categories: beer, wireless, fast food/casual dining and theatrical.

Fox coverage of the Daytona 500 begins Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1 pm EST.