Admittedly, I’m not a huge NASCAR fan. For no reason in particular, I just haven’t found the time to embrace the sport. I’ve friends who glue themselves to the oval church on Sunday’s and swear by the techniques, strategies and powerful athletes that make NASCAR the “it” sport. Good for them.
The other day, a USA Today article noted that an amendment is in a U.S. House defense committee preventing the military from sponsoring NASCAR and other such sports. In fact, they're looking to bar "any professional or semi-professional motorsports, fishing, wrestling or other sports.”
Last year, I wrote about Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum attempting to prevent military spending on sporting events. That bill failed. Now, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga is sponsoring a similar bill this time with McCollum as the co-sponsor.
Representative Kingston told USA Today, that he's got to lead by example. “I love NASCAR,” he says, "but it’s not a good recruiting tool. Since we have to make some serious decisions in the name of the USA, NASCAR fans will appreciate that.”
Representative Kingston’s background as an insurance salesman for the ag industry qualifies him to make such definitive statements, I’m sure.
The National Guard reports that they quantified over 16,000 leads from their NASCAR relationship in 2008, and nearly 54,000 in 2009. Kingston claims "the people that go to these events are the type that like to join the Army and very patriotic, but you cannot quantify the results.”
The military claims that with an all-volunteer military, it’s necessary to maintain visibility of their brand and build relationships through marketing to connect with their target audience. Sponsorship has a way of creating high visibility and engaging target consumers through experiences and emotions that transcend advertising.
So, if you’re going to prevent the military from using sponsorship, why not also prevent the use of billboards, broadcast or other forms of advertising? Where’s the quantifiable results that indicates that those forms of advertising are more effective for the National Guard or the Air Force?
I’m all for spending cuts too, but why single out one type of advertising over another? I would guess that the Radio Ad Bureau and the Broadcaster's Association may be protecting the interest of those groups. But, who's protecting the sponsorship industry?
I believe we must act to establish a professional organization that will advocate on our behalf and support the industry. Remaining silent will only allow opportunities for misperception to continue. Like now, we have politicians once again misrepresenting the frivolity of the industry without a voice to counter the truth.