Sunday, January 18, 2009

Will "ServiceMaster Clean Caution Periods" Change NASCAR On TV?


It is day two of the New World Order for many NASCAR fans who have been emailing and commenting on the new sponsorship of the actual caution periods in NASCAR races.

For those of you who have still not heard the news, NASCAR has brokered a deal that allow a cleaning company called ServiceMaster to be the official sponsor of the caution periods in most of the NASCAR races.

This is the official press release:

ServiceMaster Clean announced that it has signed a unique partnership agreement to be the first-ever official sponsor of the caution periods during races at International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI) race tracks across the nation.

When there is a problem on the track, the ServiceMaster Clean Yellow Flag will wave, and the company’s familiar yellow trucks will be dispatched to clean the track. ServiceMaster Clean will have official and exclusive sponsorship of the Yellow Flag– now to be known as ServiceMaster Clean Caution periods – at all 19 ISC and SMI race tracks around the country. These racetracks feature 31 Sprint Cup, 24 Nationwide and 17 Camping World Truck Series races and hundreds of other racing events.

In fact, there will hardly be a race for the next five years where ServiceMaster Clean does not have a large presence.

All cleaning and drying vehicles and equipment will feature the ServiceMaster Clean logo and colors, and the clean-up teams will wear bright yellow ServiceMaster Clean jumpsuits. The multi-year agreement is not limited to what happens on the track, but also includes national coverage on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Performance Racing Network (PRN), and a host of other marketing opportunities designed to generate consistent visibility.


This PR announcement does not include the TV specifics, but we can assume that with the right advertising dollars, ServiceMaster will soon be appearing during caution periods on your TV all season long.

So, the upshot of all of this is that the actual caution flag is now sponsored. The caution period itself is sponsored and the clean-up on the track will be done by folks wearing ServiceMaster uniforms and driving ServiceMaster trucks.

Perhaps, TV viewers will take all of this in stride as just another NASCAR sponsorship like Goodyear tires or Sunoco race fuel.

For those of us at TDP, the question is how this sponsorship will be reflected on a TV screen that already contains everything from animated rodents to multiple lines of scrolling scores and text.

Certainly, any TV sponsor package is going to include ServiceMaster Clean Caution Period graphics, perhaps some animation and of course...commercials. Add this to the already heavy TV commercial load and it should make for an interesting combination for the viewers at home.

TDP will keep you posted as this sponsorship package continues to develop. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the impact of this rather unique idea on the TV viewing of your favorite NASCAR races.

More ServiceMaster story links. Just click on the title:
ServiceMaster Outsourcing IT Services, 225 Employees Being Fired (December 2008)
ServiceMaster Home Page (which has no mention of the NASCAR announcement)


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74 comments:

Dot said...

Let me be the first to say it.

And you think we didn't have enough fake debris cautions already?

I'm scared.

Anonymous said...

Wow, imagine how much publicity they would have got at Indy if they signed this contract last year!

You know, I've started not to care, and this is I think the final nail in the coffin of NASCAR fandom.

Anonymous said...

The system is broken,and NASCAR's response is yet another sponsor? I don't see this many advertisers during an NFL game.

AMS fan said...

Thanks JD.
I heard them today say something about the cautions being sponsored, but not everything.
It will be annoying, but it's a good thing for the tracks since the auto companies have dropped most all of their track sponsorships.

Gymmie said...

I was thinking the same thing Dot.

And it'll be interesting to see how this works out in the end. There are some tracks such as Bristol that can be caution city and others that we may get away with 1-2. And we did have a few years ago a caution free Dega.

They joked on the SPEED boards about a graphic of a guy "sweeping" the track if it does lead to a TV package.

It's sad that everything is for sale. Sure NA$CAR needs to make a few bucks as well but I don't think there's much left that hasn't already been named the "Official (fill in the blank) of NA$CAR."

Anonymous said...

It's tough to believe we won't see cuations called just to make sure Servicemaster gets all the publicity it paid for.

Of course, just like the cautions NASCAR calls to bunch up the field, they will never, ever admit it.

darbar said...

Instead of sponsoring the millioniare France Family, why didn't ServiceMaster sponsor a Cup car, a Nationwide car and a truck? With so many teams searching for sponsorship, why does Brian France need to stuff his pockets with more money? This really stinks and my rabid interest in Nascar is quickly fading.

Newracefan said...

So they couldn't have sponsored a team instead. Looks like another case of Nascar getting the money that could have gone to one of those teams looking for sponsorship dollars.

SonicAD said...

You're kidding, right?

...right?

...RIGHT?

...

Oh no...

Anon E. Moose said...

'The Onion' could not have written anything better!

Sophia said...

WOW! I have to second Dot, Gymmie and the others...but then again, as anon said...I am truly starting not to care about the sport.

A horrid last season...tough times for everybody, a death in my room mate's family, kind of put things into perspective. And suddenly I am asking "Why is it NASCAR is becoming more annoying than enjoyable?"

JD, if this were April 1st, I would swear this is a joke.

I can see it now, a cartoon guy pushing a broom chasing Digger.

Seriously, NASCAR needs to get their house in order but as long as the powers that be are such idiots, how will it improve. I think I will keep up with my driver's on highlight shows as I wean myself off this sport.

**sigh**

Anonymous said...

I think this is wonderful news. With so many companies cutting back, I'm thrilled to see a company come in with big bucks to sponsor a lot of races.

NASCAR (the company) is doing okay financially. They have not had to lay off any employees. On the other hand, many of the car teams have layed off hundreds of people. Many owners are really hurting.

The tracks have had to lower the price of tickets and face lower attendance. Even the NFL had trouble selling tickets at post-season games. For some, it was the first time in 20 years.

So here comes a company with $$. NASCAR (the company) only gets 10% of the tv revenue, but the owners get 25%. I'm sure that lots of employees are sighing with relief that new money is coming in.

This is a good sign for our sport. I hope that this encourages other corporations to take a second look at NASCAR and see it as a winner.

AMS fan said...

If we are going to bash the France family, we need to include the Smith family too. This is a deal with ISC and SMI tracks.
Bruton Smith
Marcus Smith
Lesa France Kennedy
Jim France
I realize there are more, but Brian France is not the only one making decisions.

Anonymous said...

Those who suggest that ServiceMaster should have sponsored a car, really don't have a mind for business.

ServiceMaster is not in this for a hobby or a charity. They are a business and they want a big return on their investment.

If they sponsored one the the poor cars that have no sponsorship, we all know how often they would be shown on tv. Luck if they are seen for a total of 10 seconds during a 3 hour race.

ServiceMaster is a business, they have a board of directors, and they have to do the best for their investors. I'm glad they are on board.

The J said...

so is the red flag gonna be sponsored by mountain dew code red?

spot check billy said...

Not sure what I think of this, but in the current economy the last problem anyone should worry about is too many commercials.

alex said...

JD,
Please tell me I slipped into a 2 1/2 month coma and this is a sick April Fool's day joke.

Is Nascar really hurting that bad for money? Next thing you know they'll break a race up into pieces and we'll have the "Daytona 500, Laps 50-75 brought to you by Coke Zero"., and so on until the whole race is commercialized.

I'd love for the occasional race to go caution free, but it seems Nascar now has even less incentive for that to happen. Ugh, I'm still burned out from last season (espn), and silly things like this make it less likely for me to make it all the way through 2009.

Richard in N.C. said...

I saw the headline earlier, but all I've read is what is here on TDP. This sounds like a track deal, rather than a NASCAR deal - especially since Pocono & Dover aren't mentioned. I know "sponsored" cautions sound a little suspicious, but with ticket prices being cut it should help the tracks, whose expenses have not gone down except where they may have reduced employees.

At the same time, Service Master has those big super-sucker vacuums, which just might be able to extract gopher-cams right out of the ground.

Sophia said...

Richard in N.C.

Ok, your comment about the strong Vacuum sucking up gopher cams made me smile.

I must say of COURSE we realize the economy is bad (and by the way, certain parts of the race are already sponsored by many so I look for red flags, green flags, bottle water breaks, to be sponsored next.

As somebody said earlier maybe in defense of the sponsored caution, SADLY we all know SPONSORED CARS NEVER GET ON TV (emphasis, not shouting)

If the powers that be had an I.Q. of a house plant and gave a flying fig, they would DEMAND that race DIRECTORS SHOW MORE OF THE PACK. Hello!

Why sponsor a car...if you ain't in the top 10 you ain't on the tv.

And for those who feel "well if you aren't in the front, you don't deserve a mention" I hope you like your NASCAR races with small amounts of cars..like INDY was a couple years ago...what 16 or 18 cars?

ALL CARS deserve some "face time" on tv.

This is my last comment on this subject.


Well, for the next 15 minutes anyway. Need some hot chocolate. Below zero here as in most parts of N. America.

Dot said...

@ Richard in NC, too funny.

Gymmie said...

@Richard in N.C.-True...it may not be a direct NA$CAR sponsor, but considering that ISC = France Family = NA$CAR it's still getting into their pockets.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Richard,

When NASCAR throws a caution flag, it will be called a ServiceMaster Clean Caution Period from Daytona through Homestead.

Look for the non-ISC and SMI tracks to be brought into the fold shortly, followed by the TV deal for commercials.

This was integrated from the "home office" from start-to-finish.

JD

Anonymous said...

For those of you saying this is good for the sport, consider how it was affect the actual event itself.

Is it good for the sport if there are more unnecessary cautions? Or cautions that run longer than they do now?

That is exactly what we'll see, since we now have a specific economic incentive for more and longer cautions to be thrown.

Sponsorships are important, yes, but when they have the potential (which I believe will be realized in Daytona) to negatively impact the actual race, that isn't good.

Richard in N.C. said...

It does appear that the economy makes for strange bedfellows - ISC and SMI - which does remind me that litle has been heard from Humpy Wheeler, except for his efforts to create a clearing house for out-of-work team employees.

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Bobby said...

And of course this comes on the heels of rumours the Camping World Truck Series may go to halftime breaks again to save teams money.

That would be good for developing drivers since they once again will learn to save tires for a full 100-125 miles and teams will not have to fly pit crews to the track.

Servicemaster was sold to private equity a while back, and they decided something had to be done for marketing. SMI tracks already have the Nationwide Safety Crew at their tracks.

Rockin Rich said...

When I first read this, I thought that someone had come up with a pretty good new idea.

I did wonder about whether there would be a credibility question, but there has been that anyway concerning the validity of when a caution is thrown in certain circumstances.

I also was thinking that NA$CAR should be selling a team sponsorship rather than a direct NA$CAR sponsorship, (good luck with that!).

However, before reading the comments here I felt that, as a whole, it was a positive. Now, I am thinking it may not be.

As Mr. Weber likes to say, "we will see how this all plays out". I now think that the credibility issue is going to outweigh the value to NA$CAR. Admittedly, we haven't seen how it will unfold in actual race conditions, but it certainly is going to result in very close scrutiny by the track, and TV viewers.

There may be one positive though. I expect that this will get Dr. Punch to be much more excited about going to caution.

majorshouse said...

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I swear NASCAR would sell its soul if it meant a sponsorship. I can remember the day when there were no official sponsors of everything at the track and we had much better racing and even more colorful personalities.

Tom said...

Now we all know cautions happen,....but they really aren't supposed to....sponsoring something that is not supposed to happen scares me...contrary to some others opinion here, cautions ARE fake sometimes! What will we get now? "Race Time Out brought to you by ______"?

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

This contract doesnt sound very much different than other racing contracts. I remember the CART racing series had a contract with a company called "GREEN". The safety trucks had their logo and colors on them and thats pretty much it. Also FORD and CHEVY were the "Official Trucks of NASCAR" and had there logos on slogans on the safety trucks as well.

Grover said...

The outcome I see in this is more green flag commercials, because they want to show the dudes in yellow trucks cleaning up the track.

Way to go NASCAR! Take money form a new sponsor that damn well should have gone to a team. ATT GONE because of your deal with Sprint GEIKO GONE because of your deal with Nationwide. And the list goes on. NASCAR makes the $ and the teams take the shaft.

This is almost as funny as when Kevin Harvick went to pick up his new 10 million dollar aircraft and they fired 100+ people out of one of the shops the same day. LET THEM EAT CAKE!

Ken said...

I wonder how ther performance clause is written. Is it based on number of cautions or the total time of the cautions? If NA$CAR is falling behind on the guarantee near the end of the race, I suspect we might start getting more mystery cautions than we currently do.

I think Servicemaster will get more screen time than any car or group of cars they could sponsor. It doesn't matter who wins or loses, they win in all instances.

Adam T. Martin said...

I may actually watch more IRL races if this happens all the time.

racingwench said...

I agree with most of what has been said. This is a terrible idea with all of the moneys going to Daytona. I would have preferred that in the announcement that all preceeds of this will be split equally between all owners period with NO money going to NASCRAP directly.
Again if this will bring our sport more ridicule. You won't see the yellow flag at the super bowl sponsored do you?
It has to be a joke.

Terry said...

Unbelievable. Watch. We'll get even more fake cautions than before. This is going to be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

I love my DVR even more now. And the FF button.

It's getting pretty ridiculous out there in NASCAR land.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

I think I am getting frustrated with all the jumping to conclusions. The "oh no, NASCAR is losing all its sponsors" to "oh no we don't like the sponsors or who/what the sponsors are sponsoring".

Let's see, when a debris caution comes out where we don't see the debris will it be: the same debrisless cautions we complained about last year or the ServiceMaster debrisless caution!!

I think ServiceMaster has a brilliant idea that many companies are probably saying "why didn't we think of that". We know all the cars don't get shown and certainly over the course of the season, even if all cautions are legitimate they will get far more coverage than if they were on a car below the top 10 or 15.

It is all a business, companies trying to make a profit which means people have jobs...a good thing.

I agree I don't want to be bombarded with commercials, but this has been an issue long before the ServiceMaster deal.

If it turns out it is too much we can all stop watching.

I used to enjoy this site. Maybe it is the economic times coupled with the changes in NASCAR that is making us all grumpy.

Let's hope with Daytona we are only giving positive feedback or constructive criticism on the
race and support shows coverage.

Nan S said...

I can hardly wait for the:

ServiceMaster Clean OMG Dale Jr. is about to go a lap down Caution period.

Jojaye said...

My main question is with all the teams searching for sponsors why not have Service Master sponsor a car?

Oh silly me - that wouldn't put $$$ in NA$CAR$ pocket directly.

red said...

i agree with west coast diane on this one. it's entirely possible that all the negatives which have been brought up will actually end up happening. and that would be a hot mess. but it's also possible that there will be only a change in the kinds/colors of the trucks and uniforms. we will likely see the same sort and number of debris cautions that we have for a while -- altho' i concede that it may take a little bit longer to clean them up so that the trucks can get more air time!

i'm not a rose-colored glasses person when it comes to nascar but i'd like to see how this one plays out before i condemn the business decision here. it's a strong move for service master, much better than sponsoring a single car (far better tv coverage than a single car sponsorship.) and while i still dislike the fact that there are so many "official sponsor of nascar" and so few actual car/truck sponsors, i do understand why this makes far more sense for a sponsor.

(if i'm so wrong on this one, feel free to type "i told you so!" in capital letters at me during the season!)

there's still a multitude of problems in nascar and the weak economy is serving to highlight those issues right now. the "older" fan concerns remain (suspect cautions, not giving air time to the mid and back of the pack teams, green flag cautions, etc.) and nascar is still not addressing those. and that failure is likely the reason why so many of us read a press release like this and slap our foreheads in frustration. it also explains our cynicism.

bevo said...

Pretty sad when NASCAR comes up with a sponsorship that's more absurd than anything in Talladega Nights.

Are we sure Ricky Bobby isn't in management there???

Deborah said...

I don't really understand how this is any different than any other sponsorship. There's the Aaron's lucky dog and other companies sponsor in-car cameras, tickers on the top of the screen, etc... Virtually everything that can be in this sport is sponsored, whether that sponsorship is with a team, a track, a TV partner, or NASCAR itself. There are numerous opportunities for coverage or the races themselves to be influenced by sponsors and I'm skeptical that this particular sponsorship will result in more manipulation, damage the coverage or the races.

In addition, given the significant financial challenges all entities in this sport face right now I think it's actually a good thing that there's a company that's willing to make an investment in the sport. I really can't blame NASCAR for seizing on an opportunity like this one.

John in Detroit said...

I think this is very different than other sponsorships. Not counting the "mysterious debris" cautions, the main reasons cautions happen are accidents. The majority of the time, people walk away. However, sometimes there are serious injuries, even death. I can't imagine after a massive wreck (like Geoff Bodine in the Daytona truck race several years back), coming off of a red flag, and seeing some cutesy graphic for some company that is sponsoring the caution.

At this point, let's toss a Lipitor logo on the ambulances.

Richard in N.C. said...

I really do think there is a big difference between sponsorship by ServiceMaster versus sponsorship by oh say Tostitos. My impression is that one of S-Master's main services is clean up after a catastrophe, like a burst pipe.

JD, I do note that you were busy early this AM doing clean-up.

Anonymous said...

Am I supposed to be surprised? They have sold the pole flag. They've sold the checkered flag. Now the yellow.

Maybe they can get Roach Motel to sponsor the Black Flag. "And now we get word in the booth that NASCAR has thrown the Raid Black Flag at David Gilliland for rough driving. Now he'll head over to the NASCAR trailer, where drivers check in but they don't check out!"

3bud said...

Caution Sponsor? You have to be Kidding me. It's good to see a company able to step in in this economy, but a Caution Sponsor?

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Anonymous said...

NASCAR getting paid for cautions, NOW WE'RE REALLY IN TROUBLE!!!

Anonymous said...

Is NASCAR trying to run off the rest of their fans???

If I didn't know better, I'd say that Brainless Brian is trying to kill the sport on purpose!!!

Geeze said...

Hmm, brings to mind Champ Car's Simple Green Safety Crew.

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand how this is any different than any other sponsorship.

The other sponshorships don't hold the potential to change the race istelf if the sponsor isn't gtting enough exposure.

This deal essentially ensures we wil never, ever see a caution-free race Cup again.

That's how it is different.

Deborah said...

Anon at 10:55 a.m., just exactly when did we ever see a caution-free Cup race? The reality is that there will be cautions whether or not there is a sponsor because hard as it is to believe for some who think that virtually every caution is a fake one manufactured by NASCAR, wrecks do happen, debris gets on the track, engines blow up, etc... A conspiracy theory can be created for any sponsor, any situation, anything if someone really tries hard enough but sometimes things are simply what they are without there being any ulterior motive, deception or manipulation involved.

MIke said...

The biggest problem that I see with this is that cautions are basically the only good time to really get the commercials in. During the cautions show us why it came out(maybe) show us the pit stops then get a bunch of commercials in so you don't have to do it under green. So now they have sold the sponsorship to the commercial time, something that they don't really own which is just going push more commercials into green flag time. This reminds me of the year that they sold victory lane and everyone started knocking the poweraid off the cars, putting the Lowes signs up in front of them then my favorite when Jeff Gordon just didn't go to victory lane.

GinaV24 said...

oh dear heavens -- if we have any more crap during cautions or another reason to have a commercial break that interfere with the actual racing, well, I'm already a very fed-up fan with a sport that has become less and less interesting and more and more of a challenge to watch. Good thing I've got sirius radio, I'm betting I'll be relying more on that coverage and ignoring the TV even more. What a shame. In 2001 having the new tv contracts and the high level of coverage was so awesome, now 8 years later, its just a drag.

Gymmie said...

@anon 10:55--that's my fear in this. That they're paying to be seen *and* heard and if they're not "happy" they'll make it known. I know from JDs story that the initial contract is radio but I don't know how many listen to the radio vs. TV, but it won't take long to realize they're going to get more bang for their buck adding TV to the package.

@Deborah--the most recent caution free was Dega April 2K1, where Bobby Hamilton won. I think there was another one at Michigan in 1999.

Vicky D said...

Oh wow, there's a Service Master caution flag, and we get to the see Aaron's Lucky Dog. What else is going to happen this coming season? I agree with some of the other posters - they should have sponsored a Nationwide car or truck team instead.

Anonymous said...

just exactly when did we ever see a caution-free Cup race?

I'll leave it to you to look up, but suffice it say, there have been caution-free Cup races in the past.

Anonymous said...

That is just soo absurd!!!

strtswpr11 said...

If the caution comes out on the last lap, does this mean a minivan will take the checkered flag? I checked my calender..no its not April yet. Since I tivo the races and listen to on MRN it wont really bother me, except for my one race a year at Chicagoland, Ill be the one telling the marks"that is the official yellow flag cleanup team" OH WELL Id use the Onion reference but it was already done...

Desmond said...

I am all for signing sponsorship deals, but this is going too far! Soon, it won't matter who owns the track. The ServiceMaster deal will be extended to all Sprint Cup races and many races in the other series.

Desmond said...

And I forgot to say that this deal is also different in that it could affect the outcome of the race. That should never happen.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea for NASCAR. Run all of your commercials during the period the caution flag is out. Who cares about watching car after car getting service on pit road? Real race fans watch the race to watch RACING !!!!! That way we won't miss so much of the on track action because of all the commercials. How about it, NASCAR?

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