In the marketing world, sometimes because of the secrecy of partnerships in sponsoring drivers, teams et al, you have to read between the lines. In the case of one of motorsports' biggest partnership, the signals are intriguing if nothing else.
Danica Patrick has been and still is the biggest marketing name in racing, at least here in North America. But there are smoke signals saying that not all is well in the Go Daddy world of Danica. According to USA Today (see story here), Go Daddy will not use Patrick in their famous ads for the upcoming Super Bowl in 2013. That's a big change considering Patrick has appeared in more Super Bowl ads than any other star. Could Danica's star power be dwindling?
Danica & Go Daddy down
Also, mentioned in the story is the fact Go Daddy will not be using Patrick in any current advertising. Plus, Patrick's likability factor has dropped significantly in the past two years.
It may or may not be due to the Recession but it's important to know business is no longer booming at Go Daddy. Their company offers internet software programs mainly for small business along with being a web hosting and an internet domain supplier.
For someone like myself, who has been in marketing for quite awhile, it amplifies my curiosity when the main spokesperson for the company isn't, well, being used as the spokesperson. So, what does that mean for her sponsorship at Stewart-Haas Racing? She has a deal in place through 2013 but after that, some say there's no agreement in place.
Is it time to win?
Many in racing have wondered when it would matter that one of the highest-financed sponsorships would go away and/or demand better performance. It's obvious to anyone watching that Danica's on-track performance has been dismal. Even when she was in IndyCar, she only won one race over her long career in open wheel.
On the other hand, Go Daddy CMO Barb Rechterman stated to ESPN: "Danica is a valued asset to our organization. We have each grown our brands together with great success. We plan to continue with Danica for years to come."
In fact, Patrick's agent Mark Dyer says she has a multi-year deal in place starting next year driving a Cup car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Said Dyer: "When we sat down last year and decided on going to a full-time (Sprint Cup) program, Go Daddy made a multiyear commitment to that program because the last thing you want is a rookie driver being in a pressurized scenario of one year, perform or lose your ride."
Is this a con?
Now I might add that Go Daddy loves to stir things up in the press so as to finagle extra PR - consider this possibility. What if this is all just a ruse or scheme to make us think she's on the way out but then out of nowhere when no one is expecting it, Danica reappears in the Go Daddy ads? I wouldn't put it past anyone involved here.
She's still the most popular driver in motorsports. But the situation is interesting because Danica Patrick has been the epitome of race-marketing, where you don't have to win on the track to win business-wise for the sponsor.
At some point in time though, does she have to start performing better on the track?
Sources - NASCAR, Yahoo! Sports
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.