“New era dawned in NASCAR,” LA Biz Jnl heralded, as new title sponsor Monster scrambled in short timeframe to activate massive property. Recall Monster Bev nailed deal in Dec as NASCAR worked to fill Cup-sponsorship hole left by departed Sprint, leaving just two and a half months to prep for inaugural event, Daytona 500, held this past Sun. But MNST got thru it, with win by sponsored driver Kurt Busch becoming icing on the cake. “There was a lot of talk about not seeing as many signs in the parking lots and banners, but that’s not the way we do things,” sports marketing vp Mitch Covington told Motorsport.com. “I know there was an expectation there, that it would be painted green. There were a lot of expectations, to be honest. But we were extremely happy with it. Our guests had a great time.” Surprise celeb guest proved to be NFLer Rob Gronkowski – not entirely a surprise, since athlete is featured on a Monster can – and chmn/ceo Rodney Sacks and cmo Mark Hall flew in at last minute to witness race.
As LA Biz Jnl detailed from advance discussion with Covington, co on Sun felt ready to erect 200-by-200-foot display featuring models, music and product sampling, and to host 200 corporate guests and VIPs. But Mitch didn’t deny how daunting program is. “It is a huge undertaking from the depth of the schedule, with about 40 weeks — week in, week out — and I’m sure we’ll ride the learning curve like everybody else,” he told paper. “We’ll probably tweak the system and make adjustments as we see fit from week to week.” Plan is for MNST to sample in fanzone every week, to leverage key entitlement in deal. Monster has previously said it expects to bring at least a dozen of its Monster girls to races, tho Covington acknowledged to Motorsport the girls drew mixed reaction at Daytona.
Monster famously doesn’t include paid TV ads in marketing mix, but Covington had acknowledged in Dec that Monster is open to exploring 30-second spots as part of NASCAR deal. He seemed to back off notion in discussion with LA Biz Jnl, saying that for media buy, “we do want to bring some unique content, as opposed to just 30-second spots.” One thing that hasn’t changed is co’s contrarian approach to picking its endorsers. As Mitch recalled to Motorsport.com, “Someone said, I think in USA Today, that Kurt Busch was unsponsorable [after suspension due to anger mgmt issues]. I picked up the phone and called Kurt and I said, ‘It says in the paper that you’re unsponsorable. I want your next race — full paint out.' It was at the All Star Race in Charlotte. We flew in, painted the car black and Kurt Busch was sponsorable.” (MNST did already have ties to Busch’s brother Kyle, who interceded on his behalf.)