Sponsorship (originally posted on 1-19-01)

Published October 28, 2008 05:00AM, by Dick MorganViewed: 2229 times

(originally posted on 1-19-01)

In the world of sports, do we sometimes fail to see the big picture? Are we just interested in what’s good for us and not what’s good for the entire sport? For instance, when the ATPA decided to limit the opened-body trucks, I was sure this rule would benefit only a few full-body trucks. Then when I looked at the whole picture, I realized that their goal was to bring in as much sponsorship money as possible for each class. They hoped to have at least one, if not all, of the major truck manufacturers (Ford, Chevy, Dodge) become sponsors of the two-wheel and four-wheel drive classes. Now, I asked myself, why would these manufacturers want to sponsor vehicles that don’t look anything like what they sell? That’s why Roger Simons’, Dan Walsh’s, and Darrell Varner’s full-body trucks have a better chance at getting sponsorship money than the open-body trucks do.

I’m also wondering if John Deere, New Holland/Case IH and Agco might be interested in sponsoring Superstock and Prostock tractors if they were painted to more closely resemble their products. In Europe some teams are either sponsored or the manufacturer has its own tractor to promote their line of equipment. Should there be a rule limiting the colors the tractors can be painted? Granted, under the hood of any Prostock and Superstock you won’t find anything close to a farm tractor. However, the fan still wants to see his or hers favorite brand (color) win.

Are there sponsors that could target the fans? A good percentage of the fans are in the farming and trucking business. It seems logical to seek out the Ag and truck manufacturers for major sponsorship of truck and tractor pulling. Again, I’m wondering would these manufacturers be interested if the tractors and trucks on the track resembled their products?

We have already seen such brand loyalty within the Superstock, Prostock and Four- wheel drive truck classes. When the announcer asks the crowd which truck or tractor will win, they invariably shout out their favorite brand. At the major pulls you see John Deere, New Holland/Case IH, Ford, Chevy and Dodge flags everywhere. I have yet to see such fan participation for the t-bucket/c-cab class. Although they obviously enjoy watching these pulls, the fans have no way to show their loyalty to a specific brand. Therefore, their response to each of these classes is similar and low-keyed compared to the classes where they can show brand loyalty.

Looking at truck and tractor pulling as a whole, it is clear that the sport must develop a better understanding of what is needed to compete for sponsorship dollars and use that knowledge to develop a more aggressive marketing campaign. Without major sponsorship, the sport will not realize its potential to expand beyond its current regional market. Now is the time to look at what’s good for the entire sport and not just what’s good for the individual. Pullers must trust their organization's leadership to make decisions that benefit the whole sport, which ultimately will benefit everyone.


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