Team Sponsorship is expensive, but can build brand loyalty
Formula Boats has stepped into the sport of hydroplane racing in a big way. When Ted Porter acquired the two former Miss Budweiser hulls and signed up driver Mike Weber, it was after a year when Formula Boats saw success from its sponsorship.
"The biggest weekend was in Seattle," said Mike Weber; "because they had no (Formula Boat) dealers in Seattle." Formula Boats had a display boat at all the races. But they sold three boats in Seattle just from people walking by and talking to the sales people about the displays. Then they signed a dealer in Seattle. Said Weber: "That had a big affect on them coming on board in a big way."
Sponsoring a hydroplane team is no small ticket item. Sponsorships can cost more than $300,000 a year nationally, but the exposure is growing. Sponsor logos and names will be seen and heard throughout the country at the race sites, - more than a million race fans at the venues. In addition, the tape delayed race coverage carried on the Outdoor Life Network on cable is available in 72 million homes.
Not to mention the local media coverage in each town race teams visit. KIRO-TV in Seattle broadcasts the races live each year, reaching more than one million homes. KNDU-TV in the Tri-Cities is also broadcasting the races live this year in a broadcast that will be seen in Yakima,, Tri-Cities, and Spokane, WA and available to Comcast cable viewers in Spokane and Seattle - a potential audience of more than a million homes.
There's been big concern among race sites and race fans since Anheiser Busch pulled its sponsorship of the series and retired the Miss Budweiser boat in 2004. For some race sites, it's been a tough run. Even now, 12 weeks from the tour stop in San Diego, race organizers say they've been unable to secure funding to allow for unlimited to race. They are $200,000 short. Local fund raising efforts have begun - so far, there are pledges for slightly less than half that amount, but organizers are optimistic they'll keep thing going.
Motor sports fans are said to be the most "brand loyal" of all sports fans. The Oberto Sausage Company has been back year-after-year, sponsoring Steve David and the U-6. "They sell a lot of beef jerky," said David.