Friday, July 29, 2005

THE ROAR OF THE ENGINES, THE SMELL OF THE EXHAUST, THE COLORFUL EX-LAX LOGO

I've been thinking about NASCAR ever since I read that their board of governors, or shop stewards, or whatever group makes NASCAR's policy decisions, had given their okay to a new car sponsor: Butt Paste. It turns out that Butt Paste is a perfectly respectable and well-established brand of skin cream, although I expect the phrase has a rather different meaning in prison.

Sponsorship is to NASCAR, of course, pretty much what it is to NBC or the Beverly Hills Country Club: absolutely indispensable. The idea, obviously, is to cover as much of the race car's painted surface with sponsors' logos as is physically possible, until these vehicles have become, at least visually, little more than high-speed billboards with fire suppression systems.

I recall reading an article last year about the economics of NASCAR sponsor logos, especially the amounts paid according to the size and placement thereof on the car, and the numbers would knock you off your stool. Not just how huge they are, but how...detailed and specific. This is not just rolling metallic real estate, but rolling metallic real estate on the Malibu level, and they break things down in a most meticulous manner--this added value for a redwood deck, and that for an atrium--as happens when the money is several stories high.

Thus there is one placement fee rate per square inch for your front bumper, top, and another for your front bumper, side, and an altogether different set of numbers for the rear bumper, and as for the hood, well, if you have to ask, you might as well just lay down in front of the car because you don't belong here. Who does belong here? Hmm, let's see: current NASCAR sponsors include Ford, Daimler Chrysler, General Mills, Coke, DuPont, Nextel, Georgia-Pacific, Allstate, Duracell, Gillette, Kodak, Jack Link’s, Ice Breakers, Wal-Mart, M&M, Kingsford, Pedigree, Kellogg, Smirnoff, UPS, Mobil, 3M, Pfizer, Amazon, Office Depot, and Budweiser among others. And now, of course, Butt Paste.

Which raised, for me at least, the question of whether or not just any product with sufficient long green can plaster its name on a NASCAR racer. NASCAR events have a demographic that becomes more widespread and inclusive every day, but at its heart, which is located right next to its pocketbook, it is a Red State invention, phenomenon, and cultural possession. Those in the corner offices at NASCAR would no more readily offend or alienate their base than would those in the policy wing at 1600 Pennsylvania, and they are dealing with essentially the same base. Wholesome, patriotic, conservative, Christian, family-values folk. There are certain logos, certain products, certain organizations, certain...just...things..that would simply not be acceptable on their closed-track cultural icons.

In fact, a few years ago a marketing studies outfit called Performance Research of Newport, R.I. conducted a nationwide survey of NASCAR fans asking which sponsors they would consider most inappropriate for a Winston Cup car. As it turned out, the least acceptable, in descending order of tolerance, were: condoms, Penthouse magazine, Absolut Vodka, Mitsubishi televisions and, dead last, politicians. Except for the politicians, I couldn't begin to make sense out of these priorities. Then again, I can't particularly argue with them except on libertarian grounds.

In any case, I mentioned this recently to someone at Playboy, and he asked me to contact someone in authority at NASCAR and ask that person if there were any sponsorships that the NASCAR brass wouldn’t permit. The answer, unsurprisingly, was Yes. Beyond that, however, the functionary I spoke with insisted on bobbing and weaving, and whichever potential sponsor I specified--a Vegas casino, Michael Jackson, Colt Firearms, the Church of Scientology, political candidates in general--the answer was, with little variation: "We would have to consider that on a case-by-case basis." There was only one suggested sponsor that he frankly admitted NASCAR would, in fact, not accept. Playboy.

So NASCAR's official position in regard to many specific sponsor applicants remains as murky as the soul of Karl Rove. But based on the typical NASCAR family, the bedrock of the sport, and what that family approves of and does not, and would have in its home or family and would not, I think the following very partial list is fairly reliable.

OK.................................NOT OK

Butt Paste.........................Butt Plugs
Viagra.............................RU-284
Hardee’s...........................Antoine’s Quiche Nook
Dolly Parton.......................Rosie O'Donnell
Guns & Ammo / Motor Trend........Glamour / Bon Appetit
Delta Airlines.....................Air France
Fed Ex.............................FourEx
Excedrin...........................Oxycontin
NRA................................ACLU
Castrol GTX........................Oil of O Lay Personal Lubricant
Paul Newman........................RuPaul / Paul Reubens
ESPN / Fox.....................BET / Oxygen
Grecian Formula....................Massengale Douche
Boy Scouts of America..............NAMBLA
M&Ms...............................Eminem
Good Guys..........................Good Vibrations

Feel free to jump on in here with further entries, if you have nothing better to do.

2 Comments:

Blogger ....J.Michael Robertson said...

To which we can add:

Pillsbury Doonesbury
Last Rites Human Rights
Jeff Foxworthy Bob Wieder

July 29, 2005 at 2:26 PM  
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I have experienced some of these side effects-
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I hope this information will be useful to others,
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Oxycontin Prescription Medication

November 25, 2008 at 5:20 AM  

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