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NASCAR’s youth movement could help fuel Monster Energy’s promotions in sport

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Monster Energy’s push toward a younger audience could help NASCAR reach a new crowd and comes as the premier series is going through its own youth movement.

With Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart having retired from the series since last year and other stars, including seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and former champions Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth over 40 years old, the sport is changing.

Now comes Monster Energy as the new entitlement sponsor for the premier series (the series name and length of the deal were not revealed in a Thursday press conference).

There’s no doubting Monster Energy’s reach is with a younger crowd.

“Young people set trends in fashion, and then older people adapt, and I don’t want to say old,’’ said Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy on Thursday. “Fashion is set by a small group of influencers. The challenge is to make your product relevant to that group and then have them influence the others. If we’ve been successful in the past, we’ve followed that model.’’

Monster Energy, which already sponsors Kurt Busch’s car at Stewart-Haas Racing, also could rely on some of the sports younger drivers as well to reach a younger crowd.

This year’s Chase included Chase Elliott, who turned 21 this week, 24-year-old Kyle Larson, 24-year-old Chris Buescher, 26-year-old Austin Dillon and 26-year-old Joey Logano, who competed in the title race for the second time in three years.

“It’s pretty cool to see everybody kind of on the rise to the Cup series, all the other young kids that are out there,’’ Larson said this week in Las Vegas for Champion’s Week. “I think NASCAR is in a great spot and (am) excited to see kind of what is in the future.’’

At least a quarter of the 40-car field could feature drivers under 30 years old. Also included in that group will be 2017 rookies Ty Dillon, who is 24 years old, and Erik Jones, who is 20. Also in the series is Ryan Blaney (22 years old), Trevor Bayne (25), Matt DiBenedetto (25), Landon Cassill (27) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (29).

There are more who could be on the way.

Xfinity champ Daniel Suarez is 24 years old. William Byron, who won a series-high seven Camping World Truck Series races, is 19, has signed with car owner Rick Hendrick and will drive in the Xfinity Series in 2017 for JR Motorsports. Christopher Bell, who ran for the truck title at Homestead, turns 22 later this month. 

There are more behind them as the sport looks to get younger in the coming seasons.

 

Questions, answers about Monster Energy’s partnership with NASCAR

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NASCAR announced Thursday that Monster Energy will become the entitlement sponsor of the sport’s premier series but many questions remain.

Here’s a look at what was said at Thursday’s press conference in Las Vegas and the questions that remain.

HOW LONG WILL MONSTER ENERGY BE THE SERIES SPONSOR?

No such details were given. NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that it was a multi-year agreement “with some options. We never get into the specifics of contracts.’’

WHAT WILL THE SERIES BE CALLED?

That detail was also not revealed. France said: “We are working on the exact composite logo … and we’ll be back shortly on that. It won’t be long. We’ve got some real good options on that.’’

WHAT ELSE IS INVOLVED IN THIS AGREEMENT?

Monster Energy will be the sponsor of the All-Star Race in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway and be the official energy drink of NASCAR.

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT MONSTER ENERGY’S SPONSORSHIP OF Kurt Busch’S CAR?

It won’t. Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy, said: “Kurt, you are still going to drive.’’

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT STARTING IN 2017?

Expect to have fun. The word fun was used 10 times in the 25-minute press conference, including nine times by France.

“They’re a fun brand that’s going to interact with our core fans in kind of a cool, neat way actually, and we’ve seen some of the plans, and they’ll get bigger and more robust as we go along,’’ France said.

“But we’re very confident that this is the right partner for us, and we’re looking forward to having some fun with it.  By the way, we’re in the fun business. We’re racing cars. We’re crowning champions. This is where people come to have fun, right?’’

WHY IS MONSTER ENERGY THE RIGHT FIT FOR THE SPORT?

“Motorsports is their DNA,’’ France said of Monster Energy. “When you walk through their lobby in California, you see that. You see the motorcycles and NASCAR memorabilia and all kinds of things, and that’s who they are, so they understand motorsports. They understand NASCAR. They understand how to reach across and excite our core audience and help us deliver on a new audience, and that was very exciting for us.’’

SO HOW WILL NASCAR HELP GROW ITS FAN BASE?

It will go after young fans.

“They get at a millennial audience in a different way clearly than we’ve ever been associated with, particularly at this level, and they know what they’re doing,’’ France said. 

OK, BUT WHAT ABOUT NASCAR’S OLDER FANS? HOW WILL MONSTER REACH THEM?

Through young fans.

“Young people set trends in fashion, and then older people adapt, and I don’t want to say old,’’ said Mark Hall, chief marketing officer for Monster Energy. “Fashion is set by a small group of influencers. The challenge is to make your product relevant to that group and then have them influence the others. If we’ve been successful in the past, we’ve followed that model.

“I think we have a lot of drinkers in the current NASCAR fan base. I think we can make the sport more interesting to some younger consumers, as well.’’

MISS SPRINT CUP IS GONE. WILL SHE BE REPLACED?

Yes. Monster Energy’s girls were at the announcement and will be visible moving forward.

“We also want to bring some good shows and entertainment for NASCAR fans, so they can interact with our brand and understand what our culture is all about, so when they leave the racetrack on Sunday they’ve had an experience,’’ said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing for Monster Energy. “Of course they will have met the fabulous Monster Energy girls.  We’re going to have a lot of fun at NASCAR, both in the parking lot and inside the oval.’’

HOW DOES THIS NEW AGREEMENT DIFFER FROM OTHERS WITH REPORTS IT WOULD BE FOR A SHORTER TIME PERIOD AND LESS MONEY? WILL THERE BE ADJUSTMENTS THE SPORT WILL HAVE TO MAKE?

“No, it’s a different kind of agreement for sure in that it’s got activation in different ways and media in different ways,’’ France said. “But we’re quite pleased with the agreement, and no, there will be no changes at all. As a matter of fact, I think you’re going to see some additional activation, additional things that will occur, so this is a more, not less, in that regard.’’

SO HOW WILL MONSTER ENERGY MARKET NASCAR?

“We do market in a non‑traditional way, we do count on our athletes and our endorsers and to a certain extent our fans to do our marketing,’’ Hall said. “One component that our primary competitor utilizes that we haven’t is media. They routinely buy traditional television and traditional media, and we never have.  We have never created a commercial or an ad. 

“We’ve done different things that we’ve been successful getting a lot of eyeballs on, but I think looking at this opportunity and this close partnership to where our names are linked so synonymously, we’re thinking that this for us is a way to do traditional media, the reach of the connection and the partnership is going to be unique for us because our names will be closely associated, and every time you say NASCAR, we hope we’re going to say Monster Energy.’’