Saturday, February 27, 2010
Danica's Last Stand
The media manipulation by Danica Patrick started with a hastily-called press conference in Phoenix, AZ. Most of the NASCAR press corps had just finished attending the Sprint Cup Series post-season banquet in Las Vegas, NV.
Having just returned home, many reporters were essentially caught flat-footed by Patrick. The announcement of her move to NASCAR was made in front of a small group and streamed live on the Go Daddy website. That is how most of the national media saw it.
Supposition began that Patrick was so naive at NASCAR, questions from veteran reporters would expose her inexperience. This format and location allowed things to be done in an environment controlled by the Go Daddy PR team. It worked.
Since the day she said yes to NASCAR, a lot has happened. Her presence forced both ESPN and SPEED to add early coverage of previously non-televised Nationwide Series practice sessions. The focus of the pre-race TV shows also switched to Patrick. But, the real action was taking place away from the racetrack.
After Daytona, Patrick snatched the television limelight from 500 winner Jamie McMurray. While McMurray was whizzing around on the NASCAR jet, Danica began appearing on TV shows now being introduced as "a NASCAR driver."
Ellen, Bonnie Hunt, CNN, CBS Evening News, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Kimmel, On Air with Ryan Seacrest and Good Day LA were just some of her television appearances. The head-to-head duel was not even close. Patrick won the post-Daytona TV war hands-down.
The curiosity factor about Patrick was at an all time high before California. The anticipation that Patrick would continue her learning curve after a decent Daytona showing had the media abuzz. Instead, it was a difficult day capped by a Kyle Busch style walk-off at the end of the event.
Meanwhile, anticipation was still building for Patrick's third and final appearance of her spring tour. Around Las Vegas, the billboards told the story. The picture above shows what the speedway is selling. It's Danica vs. the boys.
Once Las Vegas is done, Patrick is gone from NASCAR until late June. By that time, there will have been plenty of water under the Nationwide Series bridge. Storylines will have formed, rivalries will be established and the championship contenders pegged. Patrick will not be among them, but don't feel sorry for her.
The real power of Patrick is her brand. Her marketing team is always a step ahead. Click here to see the new NASCAR vs. IRL t-shirts at the Danica racing store. Click here if you are searching for something for that special woman in your life. What's better at the beach this summer than Danica Patrick flip flops?
As we stated after the original NASCAR announcement, how Patrick performed on the track is not the key issue. Starting from scratch, with no previous stock car experience, expectations were going to be media-driven and they certainly were.
The national TV appearances that Patrick's PR team put together for her after Daytona were the key to this whole thing. Patrick made her way through each appearance focusing on one element. That was her personal brand. She was stylish, modern and feminine. No one cared where she finished. NASCAR is simply a convenient platform to reach a brand new audience of consumers.
Finally, the new Danica Patrick perfume from Boston-based company SA Fragrances will be on shelves shortly. Industry experts say it is expected to generate about 10 million dollars in sales this year alone. No idea if it comes with a free Go Daddy t-shirt.
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