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Going nowhere fast


Not that the marketing folks at Target need to be told how to evaluate the return on investment of various sponsorship activities, but you have to wonder if it isn’t time to ask some hard questions about the role of motorsports sponsorships in Targets’ brand building efforts. More specifically, the company’s involvement with NASCAR and sponsorship of the number 42 Chevrolet driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.

Not that Montoya is a bad driver, or the team didn’t perform well in the recently concluded season. In fact, Montoya and sponsor Target finished eight in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the highest finish ever for a Target sponsored team. Unfortunately for the brand, the strong showing comes as popularity and television ratings for NASCAR are waning. Part of the problem is the product itself, which is supposed to be competitive racing, but has been anything but that for the past four years as Jimmy Johnson, driver of the number 48 car sponsored by Lowe’s, has won the championship an unprecedented four consecutive times.  Even that might not be a bad thing, but the gentlemanly Johnson is a squeaky clean and articulate driver unmarred by any type of controversy or personal shortcomings. Not that there is anything wrong with that, except where television ratings are involved and the needed ingredients for viewership are controversy and personality.

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