• The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch
  • The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch
  • The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch
  • The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch

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  1. #1
    The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch 6 Shooter's Avatar
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    Default The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch


    It seemed like the Vegas kind of thing to do. Partner with a local hotel and casino, bank some tickets for the next year's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and tie it all together with NASCAR's most popular driver. Thus, Dale Jr.'s South Point Jackpot was born. In February of 2008 the track offered tickets to the following year's event, with the caveat that the money would be refunded if fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Sprint Cup championship. Track president Chris Powell even took out an insurance policy to recoup losses just in case the Hendrick Motorsports driver wound up celebrating on the big stage in November. Tickets were limited to a magic number -- 8,888 -- and sold out within two days.

    Everyone seemed pleased with the promotion -- except, that is, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Perhaps that's because it was followed by another on the part of Memphis Motorsports Park, which in January issued a release offering Earnhardt a lifetime supply of the city's famous barbecued ribs in return for a the driver's participation in the track's October Nationwide Series event.

    "It would have been cool to get a heads-up that they were going to do that -- hey, man, we're going to use your name in this, instead of getting it sprung on you," Earnhardt said earlier this season. "Vegas did the same thing. What was the deal a couple years ago? Some ridiculous deal for them to try to get people to buy tickets. I told everybody to go buy tickets to Talladega. It's a hell of a better race."

    Never mind that, according to track presidents, facilities are allowed virtually unlimited use of the names and likenesses of NASCAR drivers in order to sell tickets to their events. For Earnhardt, it all comes with the territory. Everybody wants a piece of him. His often smiling, sometimes scruffy visage has adorned everything from billboards to television commercials to ticket stubs and candy bars, while his signature or car number has appeared on consumer products too numerous to mention. Despite an ongoing recession, despite a streak of just one race victory in his last 102 Sprint Cup starts, Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains a one-man economic powerhouse, a figure who by his very association can lift share prices of a company's stock more than two points or sell nearly 9,000 race tickets in two days.

    That's the power of Junior. No wonder his management team receives roughly four pitches per week -- ranging from the realistic to the ridiculous -- from companies or business owners interested in having the driver of the No. 88 car representing their product. No, he hasn't enjoyed the best of seasons recently on the race track. But in the marketplace, nobody else can touch him.

    "He's the single most important icon in this business, and whoever is No. 2 -- and you could argue that about a few other guys -- the gap between them is long," said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway. "He's it, and everybody else is eating his dust in a big way. That's why it's so important that he have a good year, that he win races, that he contend for the championship. The quickest fix for whatever ails our sport is Junior winning races."

    But to the brands Earnhardt represents, he doesn't necessarily have to win. He just has to be, well, Dale Jr. Just ask the folks at Amp Energy, the PepsiCo product that serves as co-primary sponsor of his race car. Before it joined forces with Earnhardt prior to last year, the company was a relatively minor player in the energy drink market, and enjoyed only a fraction of the brand awareness of industry leader Red Bull. Now it's ubiquitous, as all those race fans wearing all those green and white caps and jackets will attest. He hasn't won a championship, hasn't come close. He's won only one race in Amp colors. But when it comes to product visibility, Earnhardt has the closest thing in NASCAR to a Midas touch.

    "Within NASCAR, we've seen tremendous growth," said Ken Strnad, Amp Energy's senior manager. "We've seen over 120 percent growth for the Amp trademark within NASCAR strongholds, so it's just been a huge success for the brand as well for Dale, I would think. I think the results just speak to how powerful he is as a sports property."

    NASCAR.com Article

  2. #2
    The Junior effect - Companies clamor for Earnhardt's magic touch vett boy's Avatar
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    If he doesn't make the chase this year he's a gone'er. Washed up has been.

  3. #3
    Member 84Turbo's Avatar
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    Oops, my mistake. When I read Junior, I think Johnson, not that other guy running off his dad's reputation.

  4. #4
    Member jrose7004's Avatar
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    Too bad that he can't drive like his Dad!

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