Ganassi, RLL sponsors bring new national ads

At the peak of the CART IndyCar Series’ popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, it was common to see its cars, drivers, and sponsors spending heavily on national television advertising campaigns.

That practice slowed in the decades that followed, but it’s starting to regain momentum with recent ads by Verizon featuring Team Penske’s Will Power and the No. 12 Chevy and with Shell/Pennzoil in ads showcasing Penske’s Josef Newgarden and on-track action with Penske cars.

Outside of the sponsors associated with the team and series owned by Roger Penske, independent IndyCar teams like Chip Ganassi Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing are being featured in brand-new national TV spots as PNC Bank, the longtime primary sponsor of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 CGR Honda, and 5-hour Energy, the main sponsor on Pietro Fittipaldi’s No. 30 RLL Honda, are taking IndyCar to bigger and wider audiences.


PNC’s recent advertising angle where it presents itself as stable and boring — features one might want in a bank in volatile financial times — has been extended to Dixon and the Ganassi team, IndyCar’s most successful and consistent pairing of the 2000s with six championships and an Indy 500 win to their credit. The new ad debuted over the weekend on NBC.

With so much modern emphasis being placed on digital marketing through social media, Dixon loves seeing his sponsor embrace an oft-forgotten method of presenting IndyCar backers through broadcast and streaming channels.

“It’s really great to see PNC tap into the IndyCar program and use it to amplify their recent brand launch,” he said. “I think ‘brilliantly boring’ really resonates with how we operate as a team, if you think about it. The mundane, boring stuff can definitely wear you out, but it’s all those small details that make the difference. And that’s where the boring becomes brilliant. It’s just another example of how PNC creatively brings their business to life, and this launch couldn’t come at a better time than the lead up to the Indianapolis 500 when the whole world is watching.”

RLL, Fittipaldi, and 5-hour Energy’s ad went national earlier in May and has been seen across all manner of networks and cable outlets, and during major sports broadcasts, including the NBA playoffs.

“The commercial is running on all the major networks, including sports networks,” 5-hour motorsports project leader Vince Bodiford told RACER. “There’s some regional targeting, but overall, it’s a national campaign running on all the top networks. The buy includes ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox. Fox Sports and ESPN is our core buy. It runs for a minimum of 45 days. We launched the commercial about 15 days ago and it’ll run about 10 days after the Detroit Grand Prix. So 5-hour is the primary on the 30 car for the Indy 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix, and Detroit, of course, our home. So the ad is really designed to help you know, boost the awareness and the visibility of our motorsports program with RLL.

“That’s why it’s on such a heavy schedule nationally around those two main events for 5-hour, and we’re associate (sponsors) all season long, but we really leaned in now. If the campaign is successful, then we could extend it beyond that through the summer. I think that’s very likely that we’ll continue that. The budget is substantial. It’s a multimillion-dollar national ad.”

The company took a step back from its widespread motorsports sponsorships for many years, but Bodiford says the time was right for 5-hour to reengage with racing, and in particular, with RLL’s IndyCar team.

“We think that motorsports in general, and this IndyCar program, really underscores our current marketing tagline,” he said. “It’s ‘Fixes tired fast,’ and IndyCar racing is the fastest racing in the U.S., and so, we thought, ‘Here’s a great way to just reinforce that marketing.’”

Story originally appeared on Racer