Nov 09, 2009 at 03:40 PM
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Country Music & Nascar, Good Bedfellows?

In 2009, Beth Ann Morgenthau, owner of BAM Racing, made a tough decision. After being in racing for nine years, Mogenthau decided to pull her team from the track rather than piece together a "start and park" team with an array of sponsors.

"The decision to come off the track was made primarily to enable us to continue to develop and expand on our patent-pending fan participation program and seek an alliance with a company that would share in our vision to create an unparalleled fan experience within NASCAR's Sprint Cup Race Teams," Morgenthau said.

In search of a primary sponsor for the No. 49 Toyota, Morgenthau set out for a day of meetings in Nashville and came away with a unique record deal.

"In one day in Nashville we made four presentations, and Warner grabbed it," Beth Ann Morgenthau told "They were so excited about it. They were the first ones who said, 'Yes, we really understand what you're going to do, and we really think this will turn the music industry around.' They were the first ones to jump in."

Through the deal, WMN artists will participate in branding and promotional programs at NASCAR events, including artist tie-ins, sponsorships and promotional appearances on racetrack video screens and event stages, as well as exclusive entertainment partner positioning for their images and branding on BAM’s No. 49 racecar, show cars, transporter and pit equipment. WMN artists include Faith Hill, Michelle Branch, and Big & Rich to name a few.

“This is a unique opportunity to extend our artists brands to the vibrant NASCAR community, allowing us to tap into the natural synergy that has developed between the racing world and Country music fans,” said John Esposito, President of Warner Music Nashville. ”We’re excited to have this opportunity to link our artists with one of NASCAR’s most professional teams and look forward to exploring innovative ideas to make those synergies work for everyone involved.”

Racing's tentacles - and consumer touchpoints for sponsors - are expanding well beyond the track to a wide array of entertainment venues. Nascar recently announced a partnership with Screenvision to run original Nascar content with sponsor branding at over 15,000 theatres throughout the nation.

“Our team has gone through an extensive renovation. We are rebuilding from the bones up," Morgenthau said. "By partnering with Warner Music Nashville, their stable of artists and the staggering buying power of the country music fan base, we are looking forward to an extremely successful 2010 both on and off the racetrack.”

It's been a rough year for Nascar for sure, but on the team and league level decision-makers are proving that they are not afraid to innovate. Taking a whole new approach towards 2010 could be the best thing that ever happened to sponsors of what is still one of America's most powerful marketing vehicles.