Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Dale Earnhardt Jr's Sales Hit The Brakes And Notes On Coke

No. 8 Budweiser Merchandise

I never believed it when it came out, the story about howDale Earnhardt Jr’s leaving of Dale Earnhardt Inc. actually led to a bump in No. 8 Budweiser merchandise sales. I knew that when the truth emerged, we’d find out that No. 8 Dale stuff was getting hammered as fans started to believe that his number and sponsor might change.

Well, we now have that answer. That's thanks to International Speedway Corporation reporting yesterday that Motorsports Authentics, which it owns with Speedway Motorsports, was going to take a huge hit on full year earnings--mostly because of “the decline…associated with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s decision to leave DEI at the end of 2007, resulting in lower merchandise sales in multiple distribution channels.”

Motorsports Authentics has a contract with DEI to make its memorabilia, including die-cast cars.

A Note On Coke & NASCAR
On Monday, I criticized Coke for becoming the official soft drink of a bunch of ISC tracks instead of focusing their efforts on bankrolling one driver. I was aware that Coke in fact does have deals with 12 drivers, including Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart. But having a group of drivers to me is just as good as having none. NASCAR fans are loyal because they appreciate how a company is willing to support their favorite driver. If you are supporting 12 drivers, my take is you’re really doing nothing.

Sure, it’s less of a risk-just in case your one driver doesn’t do well - but I think that’s the only way the fan/sponsor relationship really works.

Questions?  Comments?