Often considered the “Super Bowl of NASCAR,” the Daytona 500 brings both casual and die-hard racing fans together, both on TV and online.
With the start of the new season and this being one of many events Daytona International Speedway needs to balance over the weekend, car sponsors, manufacturers, the venue itself, and drivers were on their A-game online over the course of the weekend, sharing content and activating with drivers and ambassadors in unique ways, with some brands sticking out more than others.
To track activity surrounding the Daytona 500, we monitored the hashtag #DAYTONA500 from 2/15 – 2/17, which NASCAR used to unify the conversation around the race. Here were some insights we discovered:
- Over 137K tweets were shared over the course of the weekend using the hashtag alone, bringing in over $8 million in impression value on Twitter for NASCAR.
- Race winner Denny Hamlin was the most-talked-about driver, directly mentioned in over 6% of posts over the weekend. William Byron was 2nd and Kyle Busch was 3rd.
- The Barstool effect was apparent over the weekend, as Dave Portnoy was the most influential voice on Twitter for the Daytona 500 over the weekend, beating out current drivers like Jimmie Johnson and former drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Compared to the average NASCAR fan on social media, those talking about the Daytona 500 are more likely to:
- Be married
- Have an affinity for quick service & fast casual restaurants
- Have an affinity for alcoholic beverages, specifically whiskey
- Follow drivers like William Byron, Bubba Wallace, and Alex Bowman
For sponsorship activations, owned brand activity is not the sole way to measure and assess the value. Brands have earned value through long-term relationships with drivers and positive interactions with fans. As a result, we looked at brand activity, brand mentions, and any unique hashtags and terms used to incorporate the brand into the social conversation.
Sorted by total social activity, which is the total number of posts and social interactions generated around a brand, here are the Top 10 brands and sponsors surrounding the Daytona 500.
The sponsor of the #1 car and Kurt Busch. As the official sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series, Monster Energy had the largest impression value of all brands surrounding the Daytona 500. Not only did they have Busch driving, but they had branding all throughout the event along with updates and content shared over their main brand handle.
- Total social activity around Monster Energy: 2,220
- Projected Reach: 4.4M
- Impression Value: $129.7K
The sponsor of the #24 car and William Byron. Axalta used a racing-specific handle to run giveaways, detail the performance of Byron over the weekend through behind-the-scenes access, and host interviews with former drivers like Jeff Gordon (who used to drive the #24 car).
- Total social activity around Axalta: 2,941
- Projected Reach: 1.5M
- Impression Value: $26.1K
NAPA Auto Parts
The sponsor of the #9 car and Chase Elliott. NAPA used a racing-specific handle to detail how the race was going for Elliott while using their main handle to not necessarily focus on their driver, but instead the race in general. They also took fans on a behind-the-scenes of the garages before the race, documenting their experience with photos.
- Total social activity around NAPA Auto Parts: 3,640
- Projected Reach: 1M
- Impression Value: $15.2K
The sponsor of the #48 car and Jimmie Johnson. The Daytona 500 was a big race for Ally as this was their first race as sponsor of Johnson since first announcing the partnership in October 2018. During the event, they acted as a voice for Johnson, using a racing-specific social handle to share updates and advertise in-person activations.
- Total social activity around Ally: 3,925
- Projected Reach: 1.3M
- Impression Value: $30.4K
As the official vehicle of NASCAR, Chevrolet had several drivers on the track using their car, with their best performer finishing 6th (Ty Dillon). A Chevy Silverado was the pace car at the start, Chevrolet had displays for fans to visit and meet drivers, and the brand itself was sharing updates from their racing-specific accounts.
- Total social activity around Chevrolet: 4,207
- Projected Reach: 2.9M
- Impression Value: $39.9K
We’re only one day away from the 61st running of the #Daytona500, and the all new 2019 @chevrolet #Silverado is ready to pace. RT if you’re excited to see the first ever pace truck with @DaleJr behind the wheel! pic.twitter.com/2b1fKDMmXp— Team Chevy (@TeamChevy) February 16, 2019
Mars, Incorporated (M&Ms)
The sponsor of the #18 car and Kyle Busch. Busch has seen success over the years both on the track and on building a large digital audience in relation to the rest of NASCAR. Busch tagged M&Ms on his content leading up to the race. M&Ms also posted content focused on promoting Busch as well as new products from their own central handle, bringing in the casual M&Ms fan as well as those into NASCAR.
- Total social activity around Mars, Inc: 5,403
- Projected Reach: 4.2M
- Impression Value: $45.4K
While not physically activating at the Daytona 500 itself, Ford made sure to have a presence over social media during the race, supporting everyone driving their vehicles from their racing-specific accounts. Their best-performing driver, Joey Logano, finished 4th.
- Total social activity around Ford: 5,658
- Projected Reach: 2.4M
- Impression Value: $56.7K
The sponsor of the #11 car and Denny Hamlin. Despite not activating at the event, Denny Hamlin won his second Daytona 500 and has had FedEx on his car for more than a decade. Terms like #FedEx11 were used to unify the conversation around Hamlin’s performance at the race.
- Total social activity around FedEx: 8,801
- Projected Reach: 4.6M
- Impression Value: $44.2K
Today's the day. @DennyHamlin and the #FedEx11 team go for another #Daytona500 victory. Tune in to @NASCARONFOX at 2:30pm ET for all the fast-moving action. RT to wish the team good luck! pic.twitter.com/u11dFkSZ8P— FedEx (@FedEx) February 17, 2019
The sponsor of the #88 car and Alex Bowman. Nationwide made sure to follow and engage with both Alex Bowman on the track and Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the most popular names in the sport, off it. Through a racing-specific handle, they ran giveaways, provided in-depth behind the scenes coverage, and empowered their brand ambassadors by sharing their messages.
- Total social activity around Nationwide: 10,670
- Projected Reach: 1.1M
- Impression Value: $76.8K
Of all the major automobile brands, Toyota saw the best results from their drivers, with the top three performers all driving Toyota vehicles. They celebrated the successes of their drivers, worked with media outlets like The Players Tribune to provide a behind-the-scenes look, and had influencers appear at branded activations to meet with fans, which they advertised online. This led to them having the most social activity during the Daytona 500, the largest projected reach, and a Top 3 impression value.
- Total social activity around Toyota: 13,823
- Projected Reach: 6.3M
- Impression Value: $76.1K
There are some things that can be learned from the actions taken on social media around the Daytona 500, especially from the way brands got involved in the race:
- Empower your brand ambassadors and influencers. Brands like Nationwide and Axalta both tapped into non-drivers well through interviews, supportive messages, and content collaboration. The power of the influencer can be huge, as seen from the active presence of Barstool Sports and Dave Portnoy at the event.
- Corporate partnerships are a two-way street. You cannot just rely on the driver or the racing team to carry the partnership. Likewise, from the athlete side, you cannot just have your sponsors posting on your behalf. A partnership like Kyle Buschs and Mars works well for both parties.
- Support your physical activations with a digital presence. Companies like Chevrolet and Toyota had activations on-site and knew to leverage social media on the brand side to talk about it. Just because something is not focused on digital doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it on social media. Use all resources at your disposal.
- Weigh how you want to apply your social resources. Some sponsors, like Ally, used a racing-specific handle to talk about their plans for the weekend. Some brands, like Monster Energy, used their main company handle to enter the social conversation. There are many ways to communicate to your current and target audiences.
- Invest in the long-term. Brands like FedEx have partnered with Denny Hamlin for a long time, so fans of the driver know that FedEx has been with him through thick and thin. As a result, FedEx has a strong affinity with his audience. Both sides of a corporate partnership need to come into a relationship thinking about long-term success and not just short-term gains.