News & Media

Crown Royal campaign to sponsor Brickyard 400

July 28, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

INDIANAPOLIS -- Crown Royal is moving its act from the hood of a car, a race track in Virginia and official status with NASCAR to a unified presence on one of the biggest stages in stock-car racing -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

At a Thursday morning news conference at the speedway, Crown Royal announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement to name the annual Sprint Cup race at Indy the Crown Royal presents "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard.

That's probably the last time you'll see the official name of the race in its entirety in print or on the Internet.

About the length of the name, IMS president Jeff Belskus said, "We worked with Crown Royal on that, and I'm comfortable with what we've got."

Neither Belskus nor Heather Boyd, senior brand manager for Crown Royal, would disclose the terms of the deal, though Belskus did characterize it as "a long-term agreement."

The concept is an enhancement of the one the distiller used at Richmond in recent years, where the race is named for a particular hero by fan vote on Crown Royal's web site. At Richmond, candidates came exclusively from the military. At Indy, the list of heroes has been expanded to include firefighters, police officers and local volunteers, as well as military members.

Crown Royal announced in June that it would not return as primary sponsor of Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford after the 2011 season. In making that move, Crown Royal follows Jim Beam and Jack Daniels -- whiskey brands that entered the car sponsorship arena after NASCAR lifted its embargo against distilled spirits in 2004 -- in exiting from that role.

Diageo, Crown Royal's parent company, has declined to renew its status as an official NASCAR partner. Crown Royal's move to the Indy race also leaves Richmond seeking a title sponsor for its spring race in 2012 and beyond. To Crown Royal, it's a matter of consolidation and exposure.

Boyd said the "Your Name Here" program has been a way for the brand "to deeply engage its fan base."

The move to the Brickyard should enhance that connection.

"This partnership gives us the chance to take our annual program to the next level at one of the most historic venues in motorsports," said Yvonne Briese, VP of marketing, Diageo North American Whisky. "In addition to providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our winner, we take great pride in the fact that we are able to acknowledge so many people who do so much for others and ask for nothing in return."

The grand prize will go to one special individual who will be provided with the reigns to their very own race and receive the naming rights to the Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" 400. In addition to the grand prize, Crown Royal will honor various heroes throughout the Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard and integrate special characteristics of Indianapolis Motor Speedway to enhance the overall race experience. From showcasing photographs and stories of heroes from across the country, to on-site stations where fans can send messages to service men and women stationed overseas, Crown Royal plans to give heroes the recognition they deserve.

The Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 at the Brickyard also will serve as yet another platform to advance the "Please Drink Responsibly" message and to share the stories of heroes around the country with Indianapolis locals, NASCAR fans and people everywhere.

"We look forward to an exciting partnership with Crown Royal and an opportunity to showcase our appreciation for those who make a difference in our communities," Belskus said. "It is great to have a partner like Crown Royal to provide race fans with an exciting and unique race experience at the Brickyard."

The Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 will be the marquee event of the inaugural Super Weekend at the Brickyard, which also will feature a Nationwide Series event on July 28, two Grand-Am road races on July 27 and Nationwide practice on July 26.