By: Ashley McCubbin
While there has been a focus on companies leaving motorsports, there have been some new brands entering the conversation. Ally Financial is one of them, with a number of reasons factoring into why they entered NASCAR in 2019, beginning with sponsoring Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports.
“To have the opportunity to sponsor the iconic 48 car and be with an athlete at the time like Jimmie Johnson was absolutely incredible, and now to transition to one of the brightest stars in racing in Alex Bowman, is just an awesome opportunity for us,” Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer for Ally told POPULAR SPEED. “Second – a lot of values align to the values of Ally and from our standpoint, we’re looking for those sponsorships to be with a league run as well as NASCAR where we can partner with people that have same values around giving back, community, and those kind of things.
“Third – I think the excitement of the sport. I think it’s a sport that’s on the rise and be able to intersect that cultural moment of NASCAR on the rise again, I think is really exciting for us. It all made it a very attractive proposition.”
They recently announced an expansion within the sport, becoming the entitlement sponsor for NASCAR’s return to Nashville Superspeedway with the Ally 400 on Father’s Day weekend.
“It was always our design to have the footprint expand, and an entitlement of a race was on the road map; we just wanted to be very deliberate about it,” she commented. “It had to be the right race in the right place, and with the right partners – and this was the combination of all those in the trifecta of what we were looking for. I think we are big believers that we don’t just slap our name on something. If we are going to get into something as big as sponsorship in NASCAR, we’re going to truly try and make a difference and provide value to the fans that separate us from others.
“That’s what we’ve really tried to do for the past couple of years, and this year is going to be no different. I think if you look at what we’ve done, it’s been very different than how a lot of other sponsors have entered the sport and this is the next chapter in what we want to do with NASCAR.”
It seems odd to watch a new brand elect to sponsor an event when the future is quite unknown, specifically around fan attendance, due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t expect that this is going to be the environment forever,” she reasoned. “We know we’re playing the long game here, first of all. Second of all, we were very successful in finding creative work-arounds even in the absence of live events, regardless of the sponsorship we were involved in, whether NASCAR or PGA, or anything else we sponsor. I think this will be no different.
“I know in the initial conversations with (Nashville Superspeedway President) Erik (Moses) and his team that we’re confident in doing whatever we need to do to activate this in the right way. If that means virtually, if that means that are a little more disruptive, then we’ll do that until we get to the second year or third years of this relationship when we can have live events.
“Regardless, the media for us is great, having our name on the race is great, and everything that will come from that will play diffidence whether there will be live fans there or not.”