March 12, 2010
That billboard above is for Texas Motor Speedway's upcoming Samsung 500 race, and it uses the 99/12 wreck as a promotional device. Over the line, or all fair? Over at ESPNDallas.com, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage noted his own internal dialogue:
After finding out that, fortunately, nobody was injured, thoughts immediately turned to - what else? - promotion. We've riled some people up over the years with some of our advertising. That's typically a good thing, a very good thing in advertising and marketing.
But understanding the sensitivity of this terrifying accident and recognizing the potential injuries - or worse - that could have occurred, how do you use this incident in promotion without going over the line?
NASCAR made his decision for him. After keeping the "have at it" mantra intact, NASCAR paved the way for Gossage to continue his line of "approved" ads:
You have perhaps seen the ads and the billboards. A shot of Jimmie Johnson's crumpled car with the headline, "Door Dings. Approved." Or a shot of a wild-eyed Juan Pablo Montoya, headlined, "Road Rage. Approved." Or a shot of Joey Logano's car flipping over and over reading, "Tailgating. Approved."
Who approved it? I don't know. You? Me. Some other fan? Some other driver? That's up to you to decide. We're just causing the debate to take place.
"Approved" is a pretty awkward slogan, but hey, we'll roll with it. Question is, is Gossage exploiting the wreck for Texas' gain? Actually, strike that. Of course he's exploiting the wreck. The real question is, is that the right thing to do?
Personally, I've got no problem with it. I'm not upset by the "promoting the wreck" angle; the only fans worse than the bloodthirsty types who go looking for wrecks are those who self-righteously complain about the bloodthirsty types. NASCAR uses wrecks, or at least the threat of wrecks, in all kinds of promotion.
But this may be different; this was a deliberate act of vengeance, not a byproduct of good hard racin'. So what's your take, folks? Over the yellow line, or in the groove?
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