Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Undercover Boss: The Aftermath


We rarely deal with entertainment television here at TDP, but this time we are going to make an exception. Sunday night's episode of CBS's Undercover Boss had a NASCAR theme that got a lot of people talking.

Never having seen the show before, I assumed that the TV journey NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps took was a normal one. A designated executive from a large corporation takes a turn doing various jobs of lower-level employees. It seems like a simple concept.

Phelps mingled with a Sprint Cup Series pit crew, a sign painter and some folks running a concession stand. Along the way, despite the presence of camera crews, the idea was to make some conversation and absorb a little of the workplace reality.

In this episode, the issues were the sometimes unstable life of a pit crew member, the serious illness of a child and the financial struggles of good people. All the folks involved were outstanding examples of Americans working hard in a tough economy. It's a very workable TV formula.

Undercover Boss is always a ratings winner. Sunday over ten million viewers watched. That is more than double the audience for Sprint Cup Series Chase races so far this season.

As with all subjective topics, there are two sides. On the positive side, NASCAR got lots of great exposure from this program. Also, Phelps rose to the challenge and seemed to be a good conversationalist. He drew some interesting details from the participants.

On the other side of the coin, some folks emailed to say not one actual NASCAR employee was involved in the program. Top company executives Brian France and Mike Helton were not present at the end of the show, nor did they offer reactions to Phelps and his journey.

NASCAR has a wide variety of employees. There are administrative, operational and even media-related jobs that are done everyday. From the very visible inspectors in the garage to NASCAR-owned MRN radio broadcasts, NASCAR is nothing if not diverse.

Some critics felt NASCAR held itself at arms length again and never let Phelps crack the reality of being an actual employee. Instead, the stories selected well in advance each had a theme that ultimately painted the sport in a good light.

Never having seen the show, I understand both angles. It would have been fun to see Phelps taking race cars through track inspection, holding a wireless TV transmitter for a pit road reporter or even taking tickets at the Hall of Fame.

This type of entertainment TV show is scripted to send a message at the end. In this program, the message was certainly intended to be that NASCAR understands and cares for the issues in the lives of those involved in the sport in some fashion.

Were you one of the millions who watched this program? Help us out with your opinion about the various aspects of what was discussed above. Did NASCAR come away with a better image and positive spin or did the fact that Phelps interacted with no actual employees of his own company bother you as a viewer?

To add your comments on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

43 comments:

Modman75 said...

I was disapointed but not surprised at the view this show took, especially at the end. On previous episodes that included managment from 7-11 and Waste Managment, the higher ups listened to the complaints and in the end made changes that impacted the company as a whole. At the end of this episode Phelps took the usual nascar road and made it look like they actually did something but when the smoke cleared the did very little at all.

For example, he asked the tire specialist from the 00 what his biggest complaint was. His response about team members losing passes for thier families to races to existing/potential sponsors. In the end Phelp acknowledges the "hardship" of time away from family for these guys and gives the crew member a trip for his wife to any race. Now that is great for that ONE crew member, but what about everyone else. He is not the only person being impacted by this.

The man who's son has lukeimia... great that NASCAR is paying his extra expenses but nothing on a broader scale. In the 7-11 episode, the had an employee who needed a bone marrow transplant... not only did they help her, but they set up a company wide initiative to get registered donors and fundraising.

There is more but I think I have ranted enuff LOL. It just seems they blew a lot of smoke up everyones backsides.

Anonymous said...

JD
My opinion, (having watched previous episodes of the series Undercover Boss), this was a total sham and puff piece designed to bolster NASCAR image.
It is INCONCEIVABLE that the Chief Marketing Executive from NASCAR could saunter into Hendrick motorsports and NOT be recognized. To me, the African American crew trainer had been "coached" on subjects that would be suitable for conversation. Gee, how ironically convenient that it just happened to allow the story to give Phelps the chance to tout the NASCAR drive for diversity initiative! And we're also supposed to believe that the workers at the flagship track of NASCAR (Daytona) have NO IDEA who this Phelps guy is or looks like??
Putting that aside, what I truly found disappointing, (and another example of NASCAR being totally out of touch) were the "thank you gifts" that Phelps awarded people. An unidentified and undefined "job at NASCAR" someday for one guy, tickets to a NASCAR race for people who already work concessions at......yup, NASCAR races, and the out of pocket expenses for the father of a child with leukemia. Understand, I'm not belittling the sick child story or payments there to, but ain't it just a little MORE THAN COINCIDENCE that the illness that is profiled is the very same one that is the sole focus of Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon charity. Hey! THAT'S A HENDRICK TEAM THAT WAS THE FOCUS OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN DRIVE FOR DIVERSITY "LUCKY COINCIDENCE" STORY!
As a final summary, if the CMO of any professional sport doesn't understand the basics of what goes on at the team and track level, he or she is in the wrong job.
Puff piece. 100%
Bray Kroter

Jojaye said...

We have a NASCAR "boss" who works with who? Not his employees for sure. NASCAR will be quick to tell all/any who will listen they do not employ teams, or drivers. So the "boss" wasn't working with his employees, he was working with an independent company employees.

I'd loved to have seen him working as Security at a race ( they have endless patience and endurance), or as you stated an inspector, or a pit road official during practice or qualifying ( during a race pit road should only be for the real pro) - any of the real NASCAR jobs at the track on the race weekend.

It was an interesting show to be sure, that said he was not their boss & in no way directly affected their lives.

As a marketing tool it was good, as far as reality TV well, like most "reality tv"not so much reality.

glenc1 said...

I've only previously seen the show's premiere (because it featured a local company.) It's basically kind of an 'Extreme Makeover, Work edition'--at the end they make everyone feel good and get a 'prize'. I guess viewers like a happy ending. Pure fluff, and the NASCAR episode was no different. But yes, I recognized he was working with the team and the volunteers (which I thought was really a stretch) and the track, and not NASCAR. I too was expecting an inspection line or him being with officials, but I suppose there may be a small number of jobs where someone with no training could just go in & do. Perhaps following John Darby around on race day? But they're supposed to actually do things, not just observe. And I think they are kind of secretive with outsiders in regards to templates and specs, hence the 'NASCAR rulebook' which is not available to anyone but people who pay for the privilege. I don't know that I'd call it a 'NASCAR commercial' as one critic did (any more than any other company featured on the show.) Featuring the company is kind of hard to avoid as it is the point of the show. I also recognize you could not have Brian France in a disguise, which no one would buy. (I might add, much as I am not a fan, he did those menial jobs himself as a kid; he had to mow the lawn at DIS). I just looked at it as fluff, kind of like Chef Nicky. I wouldn't take it seriously.

trophyguy™ said...

I too have watched Undercover Boss in the past. Great show where the "BOSS" of some company see's who's responsible for him being CEO or President. "HIS" employees.

I really thought that was how this episode would be. But sadly it wasnt. Seems too scripted and another Na$car promotional piece.

I also saw the 7-11 episode. It would be like the CEO of 7-11 going out with the Coca-Cola drivers delivering product or helping the guy who stripes his stores parking lot.

Not sure why he didnt work with actual Nascar employees to begin with. Would have been cool to see him as an inspector, maybe up in the tower or flagstand, or something like that.

Glad they helped out who they did at the end anyway.

TG

Anonymous said...

I have seen most of the Undercover Boss episodes, but this episode was different from the others I have watched. On most episodes, the "Boss" does several different types of jobs in the company. Steve Phelps did 4 jobs, and 2 were almost the same, tire carrier with the 5 crew, and a tire specialist on the 00 crew. Every job he did, centered around the Coke 400 July race at Daytona, every other episode, the "Boss" goes to different cities to get different employee's perspective. Lastley, "the Boss" did not take his findings back to the Powers that Be at Nascar and discuss them in the boardroom, like on other episodes......I was kind of dissapointed inthe whole episode, of course I didnt really expect much from Na$car!!!!!!!!

Tracy D said...

nauthorIt followed the formula for this show, which became boring after the third episode was aired. Haven't watched it until last Sunday night.

What concerned me was that the marketing director lives in NY and commutes four days a week to Daytona for his job. Does this sound logical? How can you market an empire with regional roots and an immense history when you don't live in its heart, either NC or FL? He was so clearly an outsider, especially at the track, it hurt to watch him.

David Evertsen said...

I have watched this show in the past and found it a pretty cool show that showed some CEO's solving problems that really plagued their companies by getting down in the ditches with the foot soldiers. I stopped watching a while back when I realized it was too scripted to paint the company in a good light (duh I know can't we dream) the monetary rewards are always the same and the other rewards are that way as well. Every show follows the same script.

I was being my normal Cynical of NASCAR self on twitter and making cracks about how bad it was the CMO knew nothing about the folks that actually work at the track and such. Others that it was scripted and hew wasn't doing anything much and I received a tweet basically asking how bad my life was that I had to be cynical about the UB NASCAR show. Well my life is fine but I think the fans who react to this show know better and are tired of having the happy happy joy joy NASCAR is fine and wonderful message shoved down their throat. Their are real issues that need to be addressed with the sport and I don't think this happened with the show and probably wasn't intended too. Typical NASCAR marketing spin was all the show was for.

There are some major issues with the sport when Jeff Gordon could not attract a Fortune 500 company as a sponsor for his car?? That should be sending red flags up the flag pole and setting the car alarms off on all those expensive cars in the NASCAR corporate headquarters in Daytona Beach.

One last Striking thing about the UB epsidoe, He does not live in Daytona Beach he still lives in NY and commutes weekly. Does any remember if their NYC marketing office is still open? Why not just work from there and save some cash??

MJSocal said...

I think for us race fans, this episode is getting more scrutiny since we understand so much about it. I've been watching this show since it started, and one thing I've noticed in the more recent episodes is that very little 'corporate change' results, the executive just does a few special things for the obviously well screened people that are on the show.

The structure of Nascar makes this show more difficult. There are not a lot of Nascar direct employees that the fans will ever see or interact with at the track. The tire changer, well, he's as much a part of our entertainment as the driver. The concession folks, we all know them well! And the track worker, has to get it all ready for us to enjoy race day. So I can see why they went this route.

I'm becoming less interested in Undercover Boss due to what I mentioned above. For the show to mean anything to me, I want to see corporate changes, not just giving money or a vacation to 2 or 3 people. That's instant gratification, not long term improvement.

If you stick with the theme of the show, then they did this one as well as others. Nothing super, but it's always good to see hard working, enthusiastic people in this tough economy. It's a good motivator.

AncientRacer said...

I, too, wondered why he did not work with any actual employees of NASCAR then I thought of two words: Hamlin and Newman Yes, I know they are IC's, but if you were an employee when NASCAR is in cutback mode would you want to risk saying anything that could be construed as negative?

I agree we know too much to be actually objective here, but from the company point of view it was a success. Just like the South Park episode and Max Siegel's show. Different, and supposedly new, eyes watching. They might get the idea to watch or attend a race.

Still, I think it could have been better. Say, "Real Housewife of Atlanta NeNe Does Daytona" or maybe Adam Richman and "Man v. Food does the Martinsville Famous Hotdog Challenge".

That's Entertainment!

batchief said...

Hate to go against the grain folks, but I enjoyed this episode. The tire changing coach talked about what he was going to do after his shelf life had ended and not only was he offered a job but was made the charter member of a new committee that would address his type of problems. The painter's story about his son was heart wrenching and his concern for the indebtedness from his health issues was resolved. The volunteer's at the concession stand received over $10,000 dollars extra for the cheerleaders they were raising money for. The one thing that Nascar fell short on was addressing the issue of getting all families more time with their family member employee at races.

Daly Planet Editor said...

batchief,

I liked the show, don't get me wrong. Getting ten million eyeballs on NASCAR with stories that put the sport in a good light is nothing but positive.

There had to be a ton of folks who were not very familiar with the sport, so perhaps doing inside jobs would not make sense.

I thought the choice of a pit crew, a sign painter and a concession stand operator was aimed in that direction.

JD

Mike said...

I watched other episodes in the past but did not see them all. They have a recurring theme where they have a meeting where the CEO calls the entire board in to announce that he is going undercover inside their own company to find the problems and to make things better. They usually show some bad things in the company, show how they are going to change them, and find some good employees and do something nice for them and correct or remove the bad employees. This show was extremely
different than the others that I saw..

The board was never called in so we never saw the reaction or comments from them. One other episode that I saw was a family business and the first meeting with the board was a mix of people in suits and dresses to people in jeans and t-shirts.

They used the CMO since they say Brian France or Mike Helton would be too recognizable but you never see BF and only briefly see MH and
neither one is there at the end even though its at Daytona.

They showed no Nascar employees jobs, the closest they came was a track worker that I assumed worked for ISC but they never said. Two guys that worked for race teams and a family of volunteers that work one of the food stands at the track do not work for Nascar and they never showed anything really wrong.

This entire show looked like an infomercial from Nascars PR department that the higher ups couldn't even be bothered with. They ignored all the real problems with teams having no money or sponsors or they could have followed a officials weekend of their how much they work or the hazards of their jobs but then they would have had to admit there was something wrong and try to fix it.

This is what I got out of it

Hendrick tire changer = Drive for diversity
Daytona track worker = we take care of our employees
Waltrip tire specialist = We care about the teams and families
Food stand family = We help out the community

This last one is the most disturbing to me, My local dirt tracks even pay the people that run concessions and don't expect them to work for straight commissions.

Jayhawk said...

The series is very formulaic, and this one followed the formula. One employee is ultra cheerful and loves the job, another one has a very sick child, etc. The same employees occur in every episode, and the results are always the same; huge bonus for individual employees and nothing that actually is geared at making the company as a whole any better.

Once in a while the "undercover boss" does make changes to the company. A hotel checkin process took to long once, and he told the board it needed to be streamlined. A waitress complained about having to come in and being charged for a full day of child care and not being assigned to work because the visitor load was low, and he changed that policy. Things like that make the show interesting.

Things like "We are going to pay your kid's medical expenses," while letting the thousands of other kids with medical problems go uncared for, leave me cold. This episode was more formulaic than most.

Lisa Hogan said...

Just my opinion:
I have watched most of the episodes of “Undercover Boss”. This is a light entertainment show aimed at a general family audience. Anyone watching this show expecting to see “dirt” on any company will be disappointed.

This show has a formula. On most shows, there is a board meeting; but, the main theme of this show is to show executives looking “goofy” doing unfamiliar jobs and then have three to four employees get a gift that will improve their lives and cause tears.

I have read that this show films ten or more “jobs” then chooses from those for the actual show.

The NASCAR episode showed people who would be working at the NASCAR race at Daytona.

I enjoyed this episode and didn’t find anything negative about it. I think that this episode and the horse racing one have been the only sports oriented episodes.

Donna in FL said...

Finally watched this online, as well as bonus material. Too bad some of this stuff missed the cut. As a longtime fan, not impressed with the piece at all. Oh it was very good PR to sell a casual viewer or fan, the people involved were great & I like Steve just fine (no comment about his CMO job performance), but other than peering in a few crannies there was really nothing for me in this. Some of the stuff was disturbing, like the fundraisers who said they only get 10% of the profit & nothing else. Hope that's something that gets changed, Daytona.

Anonymous said...

Just had to mention--I was at a track one time for testing, and picked up an errant conversation on my scanner--they were repainting the floor of Victory Lane (the squares) and ran out of paint. So the boss tells the guy to run down to the hardware store in town and pick up some flat white. It just struck me that a lot of what they do is very mundane.

I also think that a lot of people already angry with NASCAR are going to see this in a negative light. Not saying that's wrong, just that your perspective might be just a bit swayed to start with. And I am seeing that people who watch the show on a regular basis are seeing more deviation from the norm, which I wouldn't have recognized.

I don't get the criticism not paying concessionaires. The ISC uses its own company (Americrown) and staffs it with NPO's. I may not be a big fan of NASCAR, but I don't see that aspect as negative; they claim they have a waiting list of groups who want to participate and make money for their charities. One good thing in a sea of greed....

Josh said...

i just want to know why, he lives in CT and commutes to the NASCAR office in Daytona, when there is NASCAR offices in NYC, wouldnt it make sense for him to have his office just a short commute away, instead of having to fly down to florida every week, then he could be with his family every day, instead of just 3 days a week

Modman75 said...

Mike,

Having the volunteers at the snack bar is a big fundraising thing in the south. Local orginizations staff the stand for a portion of the profits from that stand. It happens at other venues also. My nephews little league has a booth at the Greensborough Coliseum. The parents in the league take turn working it during concerts. I believe thats what the poeple from the show were doing.

Dannyboy said...

JD,

You know me as a long time fan of NASCAR and a long-time participant in these forums. I happen to also dislike most reality shows. Sure there were occasional series which focused on cars or motorcycles that interested me but more often than not they all seem to devolve into "fake reality ". It has become common knowledge that these shows have now become largely scripted or at least the producers outline what they want to happen on the show.

I saw the pilot of UNDERCOVER BOSS last year with no preconceptions and found myself really enjoying it. As an owner of an independent business and a former officer of a small corporation I had a little insight as to the boss's life. As a former employee of several large corporations I had the employee experience too.

What struck me about the show was its seeming authenticity - it didn't feel scripted and the workers who were featured had a genuine air to them. The stories were obviously centered on feel-good, but so what? I like to feel good as much as the next person.

This episode of UB was a bit different for the obvious reason that Brian France or Mike Helton are too well-known to pose as a nobody. NASCAR is too media-saturated for the normal show formula to work: most of the top personalities are known even to regular fans like me. I mean, what major league sports fan knows the names of anyone other than Roger Goodell, David Stern or Bud Selig? In NASCAR we know not only France and Helton, we also know who Lesa Kennedy, John Darby, and many others are. Therefore much about this episode had to be different from previous entries.

I think it really succeded in showing NASCAR in a positive light, and for that I'm grateful. Us insiders know there's a lot more to the story, but John/Jane Q Public doesn't, and that's what matters.

Anonymous said...

Modman75:

I think you missed the fact that Phelps told the MWR tire specialist that NASCAR will also supply passes to each crewmwmber for one race per year.

Dannyboy said...

One other thing:

I am continually amazed at the cynicism and negativity of many comments here. Yes it's a forum and all views must be heard. But to me, I'm struck by some of the petty and inconsequential things that some consider worth complaining about or questioning. Steve Phelps is a highly paid top level executive trying to do something to make his company better. The show gave NASCAR a venue to display that to the audience. While it's unfortunate that they chose not to feature Brian France or Mike Helton at the end, they still followed most of the show's formula and did a decent job of showcasing everyday people.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dannyboy,

I appreciate your comments. As I mentioned in my column, I had never seen the show before and don't watch entertainment TV very much at all.

Please understand that what you perceive as being negative could be something that another person feels very strongly about.

In researching this series, I found that the entire idea is for a top exec to go undercover in the organization for which he works.

I certainly did not criticize Phelps or NASCAR for putting this product out there for the TV public.

What stands-out is that NASCAR has many employees in Daytona, Charlotte, New York and Los Angeles performing a wide variety of jobs.

Phelps instead interacted with a Hendrick crew member, a painting contractor and a family working towards a charity goal.

I think the fact that none of these folks were employed by NASCAR is a valid point. Nothing negative, but a valid point.

Tomorrow's media notes on TDP will have details on many other away from the track TV projects currently underway tied to NASCAR.

This trend is clearly going to continue and 2011 may be the biggest year yet for NASCAR-related entertainment TV content.

Thanks as always,

JD

OSBORNK said...

This is the first episode of Undercover Boss I have seen and to say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. As I understand it, they took a former NFL employee who happened to get an office job with NASCAR that has nothing to do with actual racing to interact with people who don't work for him and have nothing in common with him. He stands out like Jed Clampett in Hollywood.

This infomercial was a disappointment and a waste of time for me.

JoeS said...

It is funny how people view NASCAR, Drivers, Owners, Vendors, Crews. NASCAR is its' own company not including the others.
It was like an Undercover Boss from AAA coming to visit me since I'm a member???!!!

Anonymous said...

On the show, Mr. Phelps was staying in the infield at Daytona. It would have been very fitting if he interacted with true race fans to get their side of the sport.

Oh wait - what he might have heard wouldn't have been praise and thus would end up on the cutting room floor.

Mr. Phelps is a NASCAR boss - the sign painter is an ISC employee, the crew guys were employed by race teams and the concession vendor was Americrown which is again ISC.

Also, how ironic that the diversity angle was once again on display?

Mr. Phelps did not work a 16 hour shift as a security guard, NASCAR Official etc on his feet all day. That is the norm for those guys and he would have attained a greater appreciation in a role like that.

At the end of the show, all of the "employees" standing around and clapping? Where was France, Helton etc ?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure NASCAR had alot of say and had to approve the final edit of this show.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a show with someone going through the NASCAR inspection process. For some reason I doubt this will ever occur. It would be great to have the Officials miked up and see what they do and what they find, and how they interact with the team members.

jr88rules said...

I'm with Dannyboy. Holy negativity. So what if it was a NASCAR commercial? People get irritated because ratings are low and then when something happens promote the sport in a positive way to people to a giant prime time audience everyone gets mad about it?

You all probably think that your steak is too hot and your ice cream is too cold.

Have you ever seen the complete NASCAR employee listing? They used to put it in the preseason preview magazine every year. It's only like 300 people. Waste Management and DirecTV and White Castle and other companies that have been on Undercover Boss have thousands and thousands of employees across all 50 states. NASCAR's so small it's nearly impossible for Phelps to hide like those other guys.

In summation: lighten up people!

Darcie said...

I've watched most episodes of this program, and I have to say, this episode was a sham. In every other episode, the boss really became a part of the regular work force and learned how hard their employees work. Because of that, the bosses had a real feel for what their workers go through, and in many instances, they made real changes to their companies. For this episode to have really have an impcat, it would have to have been France, Darby, Pemberton or Helton doing the grunt work, in disguise. But no, Baby Brian would never step out of his Prada loafers to see the real world.

Gymmie said...

There are some definitely hits and misses with it.

Not sure how many of the actual NA$CAR employees would know him so there are jobs that even if they approved to be on TV (i.e. inspections) he would be able to do. And working in an office not sure how that would do what Mr. Helton was hoping for, to see how to improve what they're doing and make things better for the fans who go to the races. The premise of the show is that the executive gets some hands on experience so not sure how "training" him a few hours would make him adequate enough to do that job.

Since Mr. Helton wanted to learn how to make things better for the fans it would have been nice to see some interaction there. Short of the contest they're starting to give fans a similar experience not seeing how they learned anything to make things better for the fans attendance wise nor TV wise.

Especially since he's the CMO that could be a huge thing he can really work on. Even the Hooters one from last season he went out with some of the girls to see what the public thought of them and their Rep as he was hoping to get a better image for them.

There wasn't the usual "this is what I'm doing" and "shake down" that they usually show. So it wasn't clear exactly what he learned whether it was related to NA$CAR doing things better or making things better for fans. Even the minute bonus clip with Mr. Helton didn't really say much.

Charlie said...

The head guy at Church Hill Downs was on Undercover Boss last year and much of the show was about people that worked their as independents similar to this Nascar show.
I have seen all the Undercover shows and found this one to be put together like the others.
I liked it.

Anonymous said...

Watched the show - agree with the critics who say it was a puff piece for Nascar - not a single Nascar employee was highlighted. Having seen other Undercover Boss shows, that's what it is all about. I would give it a rating of minus 10.

Anonymous said...

Many things were wrong in this show. Phlep's lives in CT and only travels to NY most of the time not Daytona every week. Like most management at NASCAR they have no use for their own employees. If you don't have an office you don't matter. It is no wonder they did not have any NASCAR employees on the show.

red said...

i, too, am going against the prevailing sentiment here. i hadn't seen undercover boss before & watched only because it was about nascar. i have no frame of reference for what "should" have happened or usually happens so i took it as it came.

i think it was a brilliant piece of nascar marketing toward those who are unfamiliar with our sport. these folks could care less that phelps was likely recognized by the crew chiefs involved in the filming (& thanks to jenna fryer for clearing that up for me on twitter!) their only frame of reference was what they saw & what they saw was a nascar executive listening to some of the people who work behind the scenes in the sport as they discussed their frustrations and their lives & then doing something to try and address those issues.

one of the moments that i haven't seen discussed is when the tire specialist is complaining that the sport has become too corporate, isn't family-oriented enough & a phelps voice-over is something to the effect of "that's me. that's what i'm responsible for. that's what i've done in nascar. but it pays the bills." and he didn't sound happy about that.

those of us who are fans of nascar came to this show with a different perspective and frame of mind. those who watch undercover boss on a regular basis also came to the show with a different perspective and set of expectations. but what i saw was a well-executed marketing moment for nascar that i suspect may get a few more folks tuning into 'dega this weekend. and that's enough for me.

(as for disparging nascar paying the medical bills for that family: i cannot be cynical about that. yes, it will likely be a pittance in terms of what $$ nascar has but you only needed to watch & listen to that dad to know how much of a life-changing event it is for that family. and i applaud nascar for doing it.)

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the show lacked the punch one would expect out of such a great platform.
It almost got there but, never quite made it. I believe a nascar initiative should be focused on doing things that are believeable and real, not fictional and staged for good PR. Since Bill France Jr has been gone from the sport, things have not been as they once were...this show is another example of too many people drinking from the same punch bowl. Perspective is what is needed and is SO lacking in this group at this time, even when produced by others, it still smells of plain vanilla with artificial flavors

Anonymous said...

The show struck me as kind of cold.
It seemed artificial.

Maybe that's because Phelps isn't these folks' boss. He doesn't tell ANY of them what to do.

Maybe it is because he didn't do much hard work. He "pretended" to be a tire carrier, but wasn't, for example.

Maybe it is because there is NO WAY Alan Gustafson would not recognize this guy.

But I think the main reason is that Steve Phelps just didn't come across as a guy you'd like. I don't know him; and based on this show, that's no great loss.

Why he "has" to commute to work from another state really put me off, too. Not a lot of commitment to NASCAR shown there. He didn't look interested to be there.

Anonymous said...

I know the ratings might have suffered, but they should have sent the undercover boss far from the spotlight to the world of local short-tracks. Many of these places are struggling to stay alive and avoid being plowed over in favor of shopping malls. They don't have safer barriers and the concession stands don't sell enough beer and hot dogs to sustain themselves.

Gymmie said...

@anon 9:47--there were a few folks in the know. So yes Alan knew ahead of time what was going on and Tony Stewart knew as well (there's a clip on the CBS site of him stopping by Smoke's RV and chatting a bit about how he was enjoying his time). He ran into a few like Mr. Penske Sir who obviously recognized him & mentioned how he looked familiar but was able to play it off enough that he got out of that situation. And one of the deleted jobs was him on the spotters stand and Robby Benton tweeted on Sunday how he was thinking "what is Steve doing up here?"

That reminds me, as I was saying upthread about the fan interaction. Since he was staying in a RV vs. hotels like the others do who do the show, that would have been a great spot to chat with fans and get that perspective.

David said...

Just reading the very first comment in this blog is enough for me to chime in. I'm not sure what it is exactly that everyone wanted NASCAR to do. The show was prefaced with the idea that, as a sport, NASCAR was different because of being family owned. It's also different because of the involvement of ownerships. It's not like the tire specialist works for NASCAR, he works for MWR in NASCAR. The track worker and food people both worked for Daytona. Every other episode of the show involved a direct manager undercover with direct employees within the company and this was different. Just seems like we're comparing apples and oranges in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

you know, frankly, I'm a little surprised at the prejudices here. It would seem some people made an immediate judgement based on the fact that he doesn't live and work in NC or Daytona. Where and how he does his work is not really for someone else to decide if NASCAR is happy with him. The northeast is not filled with evil people who don't understand racing; the tradition of racing there goes back as long as the 'regional roots' someone referenced (try 60 years...). Just making the point that a guy who lives in the northeast and works for NASCAR is not some carpetbagger, they don't just hand out high level jobs for the heck of it. He may have contacts in the NYC area which are just as important to his job. Perhaps he has extended family he wishes to stay close to. Whatever the reason, I didn't think he came across as anything but a nice guy; and yes, someone I might like to know.

Thanks for clearing that up, Gymmie...I assume in all these type shows there have to be some people who are aware that this is happening in case anyone recognizes the boss. Probably not the first time it happened.

What NASCAR should be looking at is why twice as many people watched the show as the actual race. Ought to be an eye-opener for them.

Dannyboy said...

JD,

Thanks for your reply as always. I am responding to both your reply and several commenters here.

First to your thoughts about my comments: Yes, it is a valid point that none of the people featured "under" Phelps were NASCAR employees, but I think the situation is unique because of the very nature of NASCAR as an organization. I'll bet that most actual NASCAR employees already know who Phelps is and this made using people employed by NASCAR almost impossible.

I didn't mean to imply that it was you whose negative comments I couldn't understand, but I didn't want to single out any particular comments either, for obvious reasons. Now that the comments are winding down, there was one repeated negative comment from a few different people that really got my attention: the one that Phelps doesn't live where he works. Seems to me this is more of a "He's not from around here, is he?" type of thing. This sort of thinking is why NASCAR finds it hard to shake the image of its fans being provincial and it doesn't reflect well on us as a group. If the best guy available to market NASCAR lives in CT, and he commutes to FL or NC, so what? It's a national sport, requiring national scope in its endeavors. Or did these naysayers want the ratings and sponsorship to continue to sink?

I am heartened by the several other commenters who saw this episode of UB for what it was: great publicity for the sport.

PS to Modman75:
Phelps not only gave passes and transportation to the tire guy's family and team members, I think he said that from now on each and every team member for all the teams will get passes to one race per year for their loved ones.

Thanks again for this forum.

Tom said...

Final numbers are in for Undercover Boss...Sunday's NASCAR episode featuring Steve Phelps drew just over 12 million viewers, or more than TRIPLE what the Cup race at Martinsville drew to ESPN (just under 4 million).

It speaks volumes...