Sunday, May 26, 2013

Talking About Sport Sponsors Linguistically Awkward

Pay close attention during the Indianapolis 500, the Izod IndyCar Series, and the entire month of May, and you'll hear a lot of brand names being mentioned in relation to certain events, products, and entities.

James Hinchcliffe is driving the "#27 GoDaddy car."

Ed Carpenter is driving the "#20 Fuzzy's Vodka car."

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon drive for "Target Chip Ganassi Racing."

The drivers are using "Sunoco racing fuel," especially Townsend Bell who's driving the "#60 Sunoco car."

Sponsor-talk has become a second language to these drivers and media types, but to the average listener, it's a whole new language.

The issue is that every racer needs sponsors in order to have enough money to race. One of the things the sponsors get are frequent mentions during interviews, and photos with the drivers in their ball caps. I remember watching Franchitti being interviewed back in 2009 or 2010, and switching hats with every question by the interviewer. That's so he could have photos taken of him wearing each sponsor's cap, so they could put it on their marketing materials and in their corporate lobby.

Advertising and sponsorship messages are always a big linguistic mess, and I feel sympathy for the drivers who just want to drive, but have to talk about all of their corporate sponsors instead. It's one of those necessary evils of the most expensive sport in the world.



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