Turning the Tide: Fire and Rain at NASCAR Race Creates Advertising Boom for Laundry Detergent

You don’t need to be Ricky Bobby to know that the Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s biggest annual race, the Super Bowl of stock car racing. In 2011, 30.1 million watched the race on TV while more than 165,000 watched from the Daytona grandstands.

And the checkered flag goes to...Tide?

This year Mother Nature intervened with showers on Sunday, forcing the race to be postponed until Monday for the first time in its 54-year history. Suddenly the race was in a weekday primetime TV slot.

During a caution lap of the race, driver Juan Pablo Montoya spun out and collided with a jet dryer truck which was on to help dry the track of rain. Jet dryers hold up to 200 gallons of fuel, and the crash ignited a large fire.

As safety crews scrambled to extinguish the flames, an unlikely hero emerged: Tide laundry detergent. Tide detergent was used in clean-up, helping to separate the oil and grease molecules and speed up the process. After a two-hour delay, the race was back on.

Though Matt Kenseth eventually won the race, the real winner was Tide. The brand used to be an official sponsor of NASCAR but currently is not affiliated with the sport. Even without sponsorship rights, the company received over $1 million in free advertisement from having its product on during cleanup. Add to the fact that the primetime slot made the race one of the most-watched in NASCAR history and it’s easy to see why financial experts predict big things for the company’s sales.

Not surprisingly, Tide is trying to capitalize on its new-found fame. Parent company Proctor & Gamble has been hard at work on social media to update the story, while Tide updated its Facebook photo.

Yet another example of what product placement –combined with two days of torrential rain and a fiery auto crash — means in terms of sports business.

Photo (cc) by turtlemom4bacon and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.


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