Friday, May 22, 2015

Sponsor This Column

I've spent a lot of time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the last couple weeks. In fact, as I write this, it's three days before the 99th running of the Indy 500.

Excuse me, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, part of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Not that anyone actually says that, but that's the official hoity-toity designation: The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. And it's presented by the Verizon IndyCar Series. Not "IndyCar," the "Verizon IndyCar Series."

The Borg-Warner Trophy.
Do you think anyone would notice if I just ran off with it?
It's called that because Verizon is a major sponsor of IndyCar, the league that oversees the Indianapolis 500, the Honda Indy Toronto, the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250, the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Most IndyCar races carry a sponsor name, although the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has escaped that fate so far.

Speaking of sponsors and events, there's the "Indy 500 Snake Pit presented by Miller Lite" on Sunday morning, while on Saturday afternoon, there will be a performance by Florida Georgia Line presented by That Little Tourist Rest Stop On The Highway Just South of Valdosta.

According to the rules of sports sponsorship, the official names of the race include the sponsor names, which means they're occasionally spoken by the announcers. So if you watch the race on television, you will occasionally hear the announcers refer to the "ABC Supply Wisconsin 250," and not the "Wisconsin 250."

The drivers even do it. They all say the names of their car's major sponsor during interviews, as well as their team names. One of my favorite drivers, Dario Franchitti, always talked about his #10 Target Chip Ganassi car in interviews. Not "the car," "the #10 Target Chip Ganassi car." The bright red car with the big white target on it.

If I ever sponsor a race car, I'll do through my new company, "Erik Deckers Is The Awesomest Dude In The World."

"I felt pretty good driving the #67 Erik Deckers Is The Awesomest Dude In The World car," my driver will say. "And the I Wish I Could Be More Like Him racing team did a great job keeping me out there."

I'm not complaining, mind you. This is the life of auto racing; it's what the sponsors have come to expect.

I just feel like I'm missing out by not having my own sponsors. I'd be more than happy to wear a jacket, t-shirt, or hat as part of a sponsorship package, provided I was well compensated.

I normally hate wearing a company's name on my clothing. Why should I pay Eddie Bauer $25 to wear their shirt and promote their name? If I'm going to be their walking billboard, it seems like they should pay me and give me the damn t-shirt.

But I'd be happy to promote anyone who's willing to come across with some cash. For $100 per day, I'll wear your company's t-shirt, and refer to it in normal conversations with friends.

"Man, it sure is cold today. But my Klipsch Speakers 100% long-sleeve cotton t-shirt is plenty warm. The crew at Xiao Gan Manufacturing did a great job keeping me nice and toasty in this cool weather."

Of course, these messages would be a little weird to say at first, but with a lot of practice — and a lot of sponsors — I'd get better. I could even use it in everyday conversation with my wife.

"Honey, have you seen my blue t-shirt presented by Buffalo Wild Wings? I can't find my blue t-shirt presented by Buffalo Wild Wings."

"No," she'll say. "The last time I saw it, it was in the Verizon Clothes Dryer by Whirlpool."

I'll sell naming rights sponsorships for my car. I'd be more than happy to drive the Scotty's Brewhouse Kia Rio5 to work, where I'll sit in my Office By Herman Miller, occasionally checking my Yamaha Factory Racing watch to see what time it was.

I'd even consider selling the naming rights to my house, which we would repaint to match the sponsor's corporate colors. I'd invite people over to the Deckers House presented by Target, for Dinner By Omaha Steaks out on the Weber Grill Patio.

Corporate sponsors, think about what I'm offering you. Excellent exposure, plenty of news coverage, and I'll casually drop your name in conversations with friends.

And think of how great your logo will look on my roof to passing planes.

Come to think of it, maybe Target isn't such a good sponsor for my house.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook. My latest book, The Owned Media Doctrine is now available on Amazon.com.

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