Mackey Marketing Group Weblog

August 26, 2010

And now a word from our sponsor…!

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August 18, 2010

The “great” button caper

Sometimes simple things drive home deeper lessons. Such is the case for the “great” button giveaway at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The track was hosting the Indy Car Series and one of my clients was debuting in the series at this event.
His name is Francesco Dracone from Turin, Italy and unless you are a serious student of open wheel racing, you’ve probably never heard of him. Francesco comes to Indy Cars via the Euro F3000 series, a car of similar speed and power to Indy Cars and, in my humble opinion, a better looking and undeniably, better sounding, race car.
Faced with the prospect that virtually no one in the USA has ever heard of Francesco, I wanted to devise a way to introduce him to the Indy Car crowd. With a modest budget, I use the term “budget” loosely here, I wanted to come up with something that would generate some awareness without costing a bundle. I came up with the idea of producing some buttons with Francesco’s name on them. But to emphasize his Italian nationality, and the fact that Francesco always greets and says goodbye with a cheerful “Ciao”, I added the Ciao word to the button. The “Ciao! Francesco!” button was born.
francesco button
I packed the 1000 (!) buttons into my suitcase and took off for Lexington, Ohio to join Francesco in the experience of his Indy Car debut. It’s always exciting to be part of this kind of event and Francesco was very excited about competing in the Indy Car series driving for Conquest Racing. He had never been to Mid Ohio, never raced in the USA, never competed in Indy Cars and never driven at an event that sported this level of fan support and packed grandstands. It was going to be exciting.
Going to an event often means an assortment of marketing and publicity objectives, and here at Mid-Ohio among these were to be my button duties! So here I am, armed with my 1000 buttons and I arrive to meet with Francesco at the track. Now, to be sure, the button idea was mine and while Francesco was supportive of the idea, I wanted the button giveaway to be successful and not fall on its face from lack of interest. I mean, after all, it’s only a button! I brought with me a sign we had made up, saying “Free! Please Take One!” along with a small container to hold the buttons. So I went about looking for a convenient spot to display the buttons. At first, that wasn’t easy. There were no tables around, and the paddock area at Mid-Ohio is a bit cramped and there is not the usual paddock space normally found at an Indy Car event. With no place to put the buttons, the first inclination that this might not work crossed my mind.
Ever an entrepreneur, I devised a small table, made out of a flat discarded shipping cardboard box and placed it over an unused trash container. Voila! A table. The “table” was placed directly next to the garage that housed Francesco’s Indy Car. Now things were beginning to look a bit brighter. Now, I’m ready. I put out my hastily constructed table, placed the buttons and sign on the table and moved away to see what the reaction was going to be for my buttons.
Not much. A few people would come up to the table, read the sign, maybe even more than once, and stare at the table of buttons. But many wouldn’t take one! They just looked at them! Some people grabbed one or even two and walked away. I reminded myself that these were just buttons, not something people would necessarily be too excited about! But I had a 1000 of these things! I didn’t want to take them home with me! At this rate, I had a multiple season stock of buttons!
It was getting close to lunch time and the crowd in the paddock area was at its peak. Thousands of fans were strolling through the paddock looking at the Indy Cars. The area was packed with fans. If these things didn’t go now, they would never go.
So, I took a chance.
I grabbed the button box and from the paddock, began to hand them out like a carnival salesman!
“Get your free Francesco Dracone buttons here! Free buttons from Francesco” I said in a reasonably loud and enthusiastic voice. I started to add a bit of “sales” pitch to my efforts. “Free Francesco buttons here. We’re welcoming Francesco Dracone to Indy Cars. This is his first Indy Car race. Welcome Francesco with a free button!”
The change was instantaneous!
I would estimate that 95% of the people who passed by me took a button. Before long, there was a bit of a feeding frenzy for a free button. I couldn’t give them out fast enough! Obviously, kids loved them and parents liked them too! Some people stopped to ask me about Francesco; “Where is he from?” “This is his first race? That’s cool!” The fans were very supportive of the idea of welcoming Francesco. “Where is he?” was a common question. “He’s over there by the car,” I responded. When it was a female who asked me, the response often was, “He’s so cute! I’ll wear his button anytime!”
In the course of about an hour or two, I managed to give away most of the buttons. My voice was beginning to give out and I was getting a bit tired of it, so I stopped. While I had managed to give away most of the buttons, I was relieved to find that many fans didn’t just pack them away. “Ciao! Francesco!” buttons were easy to spot on fans all over the paddock area. The fans wore them on their shirts, their hats, on their backpack, camera bags, everywhere. Fans asked me if they could get Francesco’s autograph and several trips to the Conquest transporter to grab a few of Francesco’s autograph cards were in order.
As I neared the end of my bag of buttons, and as the race itself neared, I returned the button container to my improvised table and left the remaining buttons for the fans to grab on their way through the paddock. When I returned after the race, they were all gone. Every single one of them.
The lesson learned here is really a very old and basic one. When it comes to promotion, you can’t take too passive of an approach to it. I was reminded that I can’t rely on the fans to take the initiative and grab a button. No, that was my job! It was up to me to “promote” the idea of the button and create some excitement surrounding my effort. The fans were eager to respond and enthusiastic in their support but taking the initiative was not part of their role.
If you’re promoting someone, something, some event, just remember my button lesson. You must take the lead and push the idea yourself. If the message is heard, the response from the fans is fantastic. Racing fans are legendary for their support and enthusiasm toward this sport. Sometimes, we just need to hand them, one at a time, a reason to cheer.
Thanks to Francesco and to Conquest Racing for allowing me to hand out the buttons without too much distraction to them from the job at hand.
For the record, Francesco had a great race. His goal for the event was to race as competitively as he could but without getting taken out of the race with on track contact with another car. He raced strongly and continually lapped the track faster as the race wore on. He finished in 22nd spot of 27 starters, one position behind Danica Patrick. Francesco’s 1:10.5 second lap during the middle stage of the race was his fastest lap of the weekend and more than 1.5 seconds faster than his qualifying pace. It was a very successful first race and the first of what we all are working on to be many more Indy Car races in the future.
Thanks for reading.

Francesco Dracone

May 25, 2010

So What’s Wrong With Motorsports?

Filed under: Indy Cars,motor racing,motorsports,promotion,racing,sponsorship — mmgatl1 @ 4:10 pm

by Brian C. Mackey, Mackey Marketing Group

So what’s gone wrong with motor racing? Lots of things. But I think one thing that has led to a downturn in motorsport marketing is a lack of creativity. And this from someone in the marketing side of this industry!

I’ve been in this business for over 24 years. But in all that time, imagine 24 years now, a stroll down any major motorsport series’ paddock area and I would see basically the same thing then as I do now. Sure, the cars are new, the transporter trucks are new, but the entire concept of the benefits that can be derived from motorsport marketing hasn’t budged much.

A lot of my colleagues still attempt to sell motorsport benefits based upon “exposure” values. The pinnacle of “exposure” benefit is television. Its over reliance as the answer to the sports’ marketing problem is to me quite clear, but I seem to stand directly against the mainstream current on this issue. To me, racing’s marketing challenges are far more basic. Television can act as the catalyst that can rocket it back on track, but not the sole provider of its salvation. To rely too much on television as the fix, I believe, is foolhardy. There is a more fundamental undercurrent at work here. At the core, I think we’re just more like stale bread; a definitive lack of creative thinking. Motor racing’s marketing language is old. There’s still copy out there that reads like it did twenty years ago. Words that feature strategies like “branding”, synergy with the sponsor product, trackside signage, television exposure and top of mind awareness but all those tag lines and marketing dogma are pretty well worn out. I know. I’ve used them all for a long time now too. No, it’s time for a more radical change. While these benefits will always be part of the “package”, they can no longer be the package. The rest of the sport marketing world has evolved more aggressively over the past quarter century. We used to be the leader of the pack. Now, it seems, we’re playing catch up.

Sponsors can’t keep going to the same well year after year and expect to get the same return on their investment if we don’t give them new ideas. The tide has obviously shifted and unless we start to get creative and revamp the sport as a marketing powerhouse, we’ll continue to lose ground both in the scope of sponsors that support us as well as losing ground to alternative sport outlets that have kept a better eye on the times and designed promotional elements that reflect a more modern outlook.

That is why Mackey Marketing Group embarked upon a new strategy of “making racing work.” We have developed a number of marketing partnerships with companies here in the USA as well as Europe. These partners have created technology driven marketing tools that can be directed toward motorsports and create entirely new ways to reinvigorate the menu of actionable benefits meant to make motor racing a more 21st century promotional platform. For us, it’s a start, but we need to do much more.

No one in racing is immune. Indy Car has been in a down turn for many years. NASCAR is now feeling its own pain, and NASCAR is considered the leader in motorsport marketing strategies. They are. But the need to modernize our thinking extends to every arena in the sport.

The good news is there is reason for optimism. There are growing pockets of quality creativity. We seem to be on this cusp of change. There is “action” in the air and that is a good thing. This sport knows no bounds in its ability to create events that are packed with drama and excitement, the precise elements needed to attract crowds and build new generations of fans.

The creative flair needs to come from all of us. From those of us who call themselves marketers, as well as race teams, series, tracks, television producers, the lot. The quicker we seize upon the revitalized elements that will redefine the marketing benefits of this sport, the faster we’ll see corporate sponsors return to the action; hopefully, in droves.

Mackey Marketing Group website is

April 20, 2010

Minting new fans at Barber

by Brian C. Mackey, Mackey Marketing Group, Inc.

A couple of weeks ago, I ventured out into the world and attended an Indy Car race. It was the inaugural Indy Car event at Barber Motorsports Park. Not far from home and I could drive over and return all in the same day. My kind of work. I only went on Friday to make the rounds a bit and to see what the landscape of Indy Car racing is looking like from the vantage point of a spectator.

I came away with one underlying fact. For the growth of the series, remember this simple idea. Events beget fans. TV reinforces them.

For years, I’ve heard many people bemoan the seemingly weak television package for Indy Car. Not much network and far too much cable. People keep rehashing that not many people are watching the races on TV and that is problematic in attracting sponsors, developing more fans and on and on. They blame cable. However, TV is not the solution to Indy Car’s primary problem and it won’t be resolved with the best television package available. I don’t care if all the races are beamed primetime on NBC. Ratings will be weak and won’t get much better no matter how much television coverage is out there. The simple fact is that Indy Car racing has lost much of its fan base. Without fans, no one cares and the audience is not likely to tune into programming that they don’t care about. When was the last time you tuned into ice barrel jumping?

I’m here to tell you; fans are born at the race track and not on the couch watching from home. So my simple plea to Indy Car management is to focus their attention, their resources and their creativity to designing events that fans at the track will get excited about. Not “festival” excitement mind you, but racing excitement.

Allow me to illustrate with a simple recollection of what happened when I went to Barber.

Now, over the past twenty-three years, I have attended a fair number of races. I’m the first to admit that I have become a bit jaded about going to races and that is something I very much regret. I miss the ol’ time excitement of going to a motor race; that gnawing excitement in the pit of your stomach that meant you were about to enter the gates.

But here is what happened at Barber to remind me what “normal” and even more casual fans experience when they go to a motor race. Barber management had spectators park their cars off site at nearby Birmingham Race course, a horse track. With acres of parking available there, they motor coached the fans from the parking area to the race track. I was in one of those buses filled with soon-to-arrive potential fans. They all talked excitedly among themselves about how they had been to a NASCAR race, but had never been to see ‘these Indy Car types.’ They were definitely excited to be going to Barber. These were a wide variety of people, men and women, families with children, all seated in a motor coach for the ten minute ride to the race track. As we approached the track, the excitement became more evident. You know the scene, people stretching their necks, eagerly trying to catch a glimpse of an Indy Car through the window of a motor coach. We happened to arrive at the track during Indy Car practice so that cars were on track when the motor coach drove into the track facility.

A woman was the first to see one. “THERE! Did you see it?” she shouted. She moved her two children to in front of her so that they could get a better glimpse of the track. At that moment, Ryan Hunter-Reay in the IZOD car screamed into view and quickly disappeared behind a row of trees. “WOW! Did you see that?” she exclaimed. The kids eagerly nodded yes with an impatience for the coach driver to quickly park the bus so that we all could get off and find our way trackside. Everyone on the bus was shifting in their seats trying to get just one more look at what they just saw. All that excitement generated by just the quickest of glimpses of an Indy Car at speed on the track. It was a reminder to me of the simple visual power of a thoroughbred race car at full song. It’s a most impressive introduction. When you add in that there is a driver in that car, you create drama that can’t be replicated anywhere else. I’m confident that many of my fellow coach riders seeing those cars for the first time won’t soon forget the image and I’m certain those kids are now first in line for Indy Car’s next generation of fans.

That kind of excitement simply doesn’t happen back at home. No one will jump out of their couches with excitement watching on TV when the race car flashes on-screen. Doesn’t happen. It can only happen by being there and feeling that familiar excitement of getting close to an Indy Car and the drivers who drive them; the sights, the sounds, even the smells of an Indy Car event. I know it well. We all do.

Once a fan, you’re more likely to watch on television. But it’s a completely different reference point. You watch because you want to keep up with the action. Action you first saw at the race track.

I know. There will be exceptions to my rule. There will be those among us who watched on television and became fans. But that is an expensive way to find and create them. The best, most compelling way to find new fans is to get them to the race track. Barber probably minted more new fans than multiple races beamed nation wide to hard to find television viewers. Once you have fans, television viewers will follow. And if Indy Car can create a big enough number of really hard-core fans, they’ll watch your television coverage no matter where it is; on network, on cable or wherever they can find it.

That’s the solution to Indy Car’s first and most pressing problem. One of several problems that Indy Car series is now addressing, everything from new cars to the need for American drivers. But at its core, Indy Car needs to make new fans. Lots of them. From the looks of Barber, and the reaction of the new fans I myself saw minted firsthand, they should take notes and repeat this success as often as possible.

June 16, 2009

In consideration of the good ol’ days.

Filed under: Indy Cars,motor racing,motorsports,racing — mmgatl1 @ 1:41 pm

The 2009 Indy 500 is history. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good show, but then, I am an easy audience. I have heard lots of people talking about the good ol’ days, including myself from time to time. So it got me to thinking.
What were the good ol’ days like?
To find out, I reviewed the box scores of two Indy 500s. The Indy 500 is a good source as they have a certain respect for the past at Indy. I know, there have been many changes at the Speedway, but traditions do carry over from year to year making comparisons both easy and interesting. Let’s see what the good ol’ days were like.
The first box score I looked at was the 1971 Indy 500, a race I attended as a wide-eyed high school student. It was my first visit to the “500”. The weather in 1971, as I remember, was perfect. I had seats along the main straightaway, across from the then pit exit. So all in all, pretty much a perfect memory.
So as a starting point, the 1971 event is the event to consider as my “good ol’ days” event. Let’s compare it to the 2009 event.
Here is what I found out.
1. The 1971 race was on SATURDAY, May 29, 1971. 2009 was on SUNDAY, May 24, 2009.
2. Al Unser won driving the Johnny Lightning P.J. Colt/Ford in 1971. Helio Castroneves driving for Team Penske in a Dallara/Honda won in 2009.
3. Unser started 5th and won in 1971. Castroneves started 1st and finished in 1st in 2009. In 1971, Peter Revson started 1st and finished 2nd. In 2009, Dan Wheldon finished 2nd and started 18th.
4. The 1971 500 was made up of nearly all American drivers. The 2009 event was completely dominated by foreign-born drivers.
5. 1971 had four previous winners in the race and the 2009 race had four previous winners in the field.
6. In 1971 the top 5 finishers had five different chassis, a Colt, a McLaren, a Coyote, an Eagle and a Brabham, two Ford powered and three Offys. In 2009, all 33 entries were in Dallara Hondas.
7. I count 15 different chassis in 1971 and two powerplants of Ford and Offy. The chassis were: P.J. Colt, McLaren, Coyote, Eagle, Brabham, Vollstedt, Kuzma, Gerhardt, Mongoose, Watson, Kingfish, Lola, Hawk, Scorpion and McNamara. 2009 had one chassis and one engine manufacturer in Dallara/Honda.
8. The 1971 race took 3:10:11.56 to complete and the 2009 event was 3:19:34.6427. It took LONGER in 2009!
9. Average speed in 1971 was 157.735 compared to 150.318 in 2009. 2009 had 8 cautions for 61 laps while the 1971 event box score does not note cautions, but obviously, they must have had fewer caution laps.
10. Fastest lap = 1971 Mark Donohue, lap 66 at 174.961. 2009 = Dario Franchitti, lap 187 at 222.044 mph!
11. The 1971 event had 13 lead changes among 5 drivers compared to 6 lead changes among 4 drivers in 2009.
12. Margin of victory in 1971 was 22.48 seconds. In 2009, it was 1.9819 seconds!
13. In 1971, five cars finished on the lead lap. In 2009, 19 cars finished on the lead lap!
14. 1971 is noted as having 12 cars finishing the race. 2009, 20 cars finished.
15. 1971 had four rookies. 2009 had five.
16. Prize money. 1971 Unser won $238,454.00. 2009 Castroneves won $3,048,005.
17. Total prize money in 1971 =1,000,490.00. 2009 = $14,315,315.00.
18. The only names that show up on both lists that I can find are: AJ Foyt as driver in 1971 to team owner/entrant in 2009. Penske as Car name in both 1971 as a sponsor of David Hobbs in 1971 (car name = Penske Products) to car name “team Penske” in 2009.
19. I can not find a single “sponsor” that was involved in 1971, still involved today, unless you consider Penske. Here are some of the sponsors in 1971: Johnny Lightning, ITT, Olsonite, Sugaripe Prune, Sprite, Thermo-King, TraveLodge, Patrick Petroleum, Classic Wax, Sunoco, Gilmore Broadcasting, Wynn’s and STP. Bring back memories?
20. Firestone won both the 1971 event and 2009.
So, here is the good and bad for 2009. The race cars are much faster. They are much more reliable. They had a much closer finish in 2009 and many more cars were on the lead lap. The bad is that not enough American drivers were in the race in 2009, cautions slowed the race considerably, and there is no variety in the chassis or powerplants.
Finally, listen to these names: Unser, Revson, Foyt, Malloy, Vukovich, Allison, Bettenhausen, Ruby, Simon, Follmer, Yarborough, Hulme, Rutherford, Leonard, Hobbs, Dallenbach, Donohue, Pollard, Sessions, Dickson, Johncock, Andretti, Krisiloff, Kenyon and Snyder. They were all in the 1971 race.
That’s the difference to me. To a race fan, albeit an older one like me, these names have great meaning. As a fan, I feel like I knew many of them. For example, Peter Revson was my favorite driver in the 1971 race and the McLaren my favorite car. It is who and what I cheered for. It is the drivers that ultimately make the difference. It is the principle reason why “the good ol’ days” really were “the good ol’ days”. The cars were not as fast, nor as reliable and the finish wasn’t that close. But it was the drivers that captivated our attention and drew us into the sport. We admired them, envied them, feared for them and cheered them every lap. I am certain that the management of Indy Car understands the critical importance drivers play in racing’s popularity. I am confident they are working hard to try and re-establish the relationship between drivers and fans. They can’t just snap their fingers and make it happen. It takes time, focus and energy. While we may not have sufficient number of American names in the entry list, let’s support these efforts by cheering for the drivers we choose to champion. They are all trying their best to bring back the good ol’ days. Indy Car has a new generation of names to cheer for. Andretti name is back. So is Rahal (not in the 1971 race, but you know what I mean!). New names are carving their own way into our consciousness. They may have a long way to travel, but the event of 1971 will go a long way toward showing them the way.
The names of the drivers count.

January 13, 2009

What is your favorite race car of all time? The results.

Filed under: Indy Cars,motor racing,motorsports,racing,Uncategorized — mmgatl1 @ 10:12 pm

Tabulations of informal poll on

Recently I asked on “what is your favorite race car of all time?”  The response was relatively heavy with 48 responses, about triple the number of any other discussion in this motorsport group.  Each response and each car mentioned were tallied as a vote, providing more than 100 cars mentioned as the favorite.  Some responders could not narrow the field to just one, so they mentioned several cars.  Each was given one vote.  Here are the results of my informal poll.

Here are some interesting facts:
No current F1 car mentioned
No current Indy Car mentioned
No current NASCAR mentioned
Ferraris appear in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 00s.

The decade that the favorite car first appears
20’s and 30’s                         2%
40’s                                     0%
50’s                                     6%
60’s                                     31%
70’s                                     28%
80’s                                     18%
90’s                                     11%
00’s                                     4%

The basic classification of race car
Racing Sports Car                 46%
Formula One                        18%
Can-Am                                12.5%
Indy                                     10%
Other various                         13%

The marque of the favorite car
Porsche                                13%
Lotus                                   11%
Ferrari                                  10%
Ford (various)                        7%
Chevy (various)                     6%
McLaren                                6%
Chaparral                              4%
Tyrell                                   3%
Shadow                                3%
Maserati                               3%
Jaguar                                  2%
Mercedes                              2%
Others                                  30%

And, drum roll please….

The favorite race car of all time by specific name is….

1. Porsche 917
2. McLaren Can-Am M8 series
3. Porsche 956/962

Thanks to all who participated.  In the end, it seems to be a pretty accurate list of some of the greatest race cars of all time! 

November 24, 2008

“Why the Versus/IRL television agreement is a good move”

I have read numerous negative stories regarding the recent IRL television agreement with Versus cable network. While I am not a stalwart supporter of IRL (I was in the CART camp of supporters), I do believe that the direction and the philosophy regarding this choice to be on target. Without inside knowledge to the “deal”, I can only go on what’s been published. Allow me to share some contrarian input on why I believe the IRL television agreement with Versus is an overall positive.

  1. An underlying aspect that one needs to understand is that event marketing as a whole, and motorsports perhaps in particular, relies on the relationship between fan and sponsor to generate value. Motor racing has an extended enviable track record of doing this. As evidenced primarily by NASCAR, race fans have proven to be exceptionally and reliably brand loyal to sponsor products. Event marketing, including motorsports, sell their value based on this relationship and not solely on the size of the audience reached. The reason why this form of more intimate marketing rather than the more “traditional” mass marketing of the past is growing, is the relationship that is developed between sponsor and consumer. It’s why a sponsor sponsors a race car, why they sponsor concerts, festivals and just about anything where people gather for a particular interest.  Sponsors want to show this targeted audience that they share their particular passion and hope and believe this interactive relationship will result in greater product sales. It’s not primarily about “exposure,” it’s about relationships. There is no other leading reason for doing it.
  2. The other element that one needs to understand is that television exposure does not primarily beget fans, events do. I keep hearing about “exposure” generating fans and the need to get a racing series on television. While it may do so to some degree, the vast and more efficient means of generating fans is to get people to the races. Television numbers follow the trend of a series ability to attract fans. NASCAR? It has fans. Subsequently, a stronger television package because networks, sponsors and series all understand that fans (aka television audience) will watch – and buy sponsor product. Several years ago, I read a report that indicated that 30% of the television viewers (aka fans) who watched a NASCAR event on TV reported that they purchased a particular sponsor product, PURELY due to the motor racing sponsorship. That’s a heady number and mind-boggling influence over consumers. No wonder sponsors have gravitated to this form of motorsport success. If NASCAR is now losing viewers on television, it isn’t due to less “exposure” of the sport; it is due to NASCAR losing fans. If one understands that “viewers” of racing events on television are primarily “fans” and vice versa, then the ratings numbers generated and the corollary impact on sponsor influence begins to emerge clearly.
  3. That brings us to Versus. IRL did not choose to “buy” their way onto commercial network television, in my estimation, properly so. It would have cost millions to generate a modest television rating number because the IRL does not have sufficient FANS to instantly produce big numbers! And buying television time will not generate them economically enough to impact rating numbers. See CART.
  4. Some have suggested that IRL is losing sponsor interest due to the weak television deal and not the economy. I doubt this is true. I do believe the economy may be driving away prospective sponsors with or without Versus. It’s a difficult environment out there. However, my contrarian viewpoint is that motorsport marketing (and the event marketing industry as a whole) may be able to gain advantage among sponsor companies due to the increased value placed on the influential manner in which these audiences are reached. In today’s environment, advertisers may not desire to continue to throw enormous numbers of advertising dollars at a passive mass audience. They want response and event marketing is the place to find it. It does bode well for motor racing if sold from the proper perspective. But right now it is difficult time to find willing sponsors.
  5. I think we all can agree that the IRL is in a regrouping phase after the prolonged and difficult split. I believe the IRL must focus their energies on building event strengths and then take those strengths to further their television coverage. They already have built-in strength in the Indy 500, a pivotal starting point. I think we can agree that the primary force that race events have to attract people to races are the drivers. Rather than spending millions on weak network television numbers, it is better to spend money on generating interest in events. NASCAR has demonstrated this and built their series around generating driver stars. IRL also seems to understand that drivers drive fans to the races. Like her or not, they have Danica Patrick. They also have a growing list of marketable and popular names to build their fan base, including the important aspect of American drivers. While the whole grid should reflect an international element to build a scale of importance, the grid should have a measurable American presence. Names like Andretti, Rahal and others bode well for the IRL.
  6. Finally, the advantage of Versus. We all understand that the rating numbers generated by the Versus television network is likely to be smaller than one generated by a commercial network coverage. But if you’ve been listening, you know that size of the audience is not the only measurable element. The number of “fans” watching the coverage is also an important factor. Fans will search and find the television coverage whereas passive television viewers won’t. If the audience grows to significant numbers by Versus scale, then the IRL will be successful in generating new and loyal fans. Fans who purchase sponsor products. And sponsor product sales are what keep sponsors happy. It is just as important to demonstrate to perspective sponsors the growth of a fan base rather than relying on comparably weak network rating number from a passive audience of viewers.
  7. From the Versus perspective, IRL is a plum. It enables Versus to feature IRL and drive the IRL fans to watch the events on their network. By becoming a lead featured program of Versus, the IRL gains a marketing partner in helping to build fans and not just a broadcast outlet.

All in all, I feel that the Versus television deal is a good one. It has all the elements needed, promotes growth, enables greater focus on the IRL through features, expanded coverage and higher network priority. And the millions off dollars saved can be diverted to greater purpose.

All of us who view open wheel with high regard can help by supporting this growth period and redevelopment of the brand. The Versus TV deal may only be a first critical step, but I am confidant a step in the right direction.

Visit our website at

July 26, 2008

State of the Industry

by Brian Mackey

I think we are in for a bit of a sea change.  And for my agency, I think we are ideally positioned to take advantage.  In these economicly challenging days, bigger may not always be better any more.  The days of more than $15M per race car promotional budgets may be shrinking.  Not only the size of the budgets but in the number of race teams that can command these kinds of huge promotional commitments from sponsors.  There will always be some major commercial players, but more and more race cars in premier series will be sidelined with sponsor troubles.  You are already beginning to see this happen.  You will see more.

MMG has long been an agency where different is better, not bigger is better.  We specialize in motorsport racing properties that represent alternatives to the standard fare.  We’re not overloaded with NASCAR themes.  We don’t just focus on one “most popular” form of racing.  I like to think that we are first and foremost marketers.  We represent a variety of motorsport themes.  We have grass-roots campaigns as well as high profile ones — series, drivers, teams, cars, boats or aiplanes, you’ll find MMG promotions across the country, across the ocean and across the board.  But what you won’t find are campaigns that are heavy on cost and congruently light on content.   We try to develop campaigns where marketing budgets match the property, provide realistic results and give every sponsor participant a chance to gain results from an investment in motorsport marketing.  It’s not just for the big guys anymore.  More and more companies will be seeking the kind of racing properties that we represent here. 

We have exciting news in store.  New and old clients are lining up that will provide MMG the most exciting opportunties in our history.  And all of them are the kind of racing campaigns that will meet the demands of future priorities.  

See you at the races.

July 25, 2008

Welcome to MMG weblog!

Filed under: motorsports — mmgatl1 @ 1:10 am

Welcome to Mackey Marketing Group’s weblog.  We’re here to talk racing, our agency, our industry and our clients.  We’ll take up the issues of the day or what happened over the weekend or perhaps simply wax poetic about the good ol’ days.  This will be our space but don’t let it be a one way street.  We want to hear from you.  Let’s make this a regular thing.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

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