Traditional marketing-and, consequently, its more recent and specific emanations-has been devising a number of strategies aimed at younger audiences for decades. This is for a variety of reasons, ranging from the more intuitive to the more "underground."
It is evident how at an early age the messages received are not processed by experience or other factors but directly strike the attention. For this reason, young viewers/readers/listeners/navigators themselves become carriers of communication within the family. In support of these dynamics, it should be noted that it is at school age that one has more free time to devote to the enjoyment of audio-visual content and that there is more interaction both on and offline.
Undoubtedly a racing vehicle, whether 2 or 4-wheeled, tends to be noisy (at least the conventional ones), fast and colorful represents a magnet of attention especially for the curious and "hungry" senses one is endowed with during childhood and adolescence.
It is crucial for a company to start creating recognition for itself that will allow people to form a bond early on and that can turn into future loyalty as consumers. Hence the use of childlike or playful elements in many commercials and campaigns: jingles, colors, mascots, and animations that can often perplex an adult viewer but are absolutely persuasive on a smaller viewer.
The world of communication applied to sports obviously follows the same principles, declined based on the prerogatives of the disciplines. As is often the case, it has been and is the U.S. world that has fielded the most structured and targeted initiatives. The very formula of the championships organized by Nascar places great importance on the definition of budgets, as there is no division into manufacturers and customers as in many other scenarios in the sport. This necessitates the development of a much more aggressive approach to acquiring and maintaining the means necessary to ensure the survival and success of a team. A result that can be achieved through the establishment of lasting and productive relationships with sponsors. This involves close cooperation between riders, track activities and companies in order to provide consumers with an effective image. Certainly using the "trojan horse" of hitting the attention of younger people and thus conditioning the consumption habits of the entire family is a functional way to generate a considerable return on image and investment.
The fact that many companies involved in sponsorships have long offered merchandise, toys, and memorabilia within special packaging or during dedicated campaigns is an easy way forward but one that has always brought great consumer-brand affection and relationship.
In Europe and other situations closer to us, this kind of dynamic has always remained a bit more related to collecting, modeling, and in general the passionate relationship with certain drivers or teams.
Toy cars, stickers and whatnot have long been coveted by young people (and others) around the world to feel a little closer to their favorites. What has been done overseas is to try to tie a business and loyalty aspect to this involvement.
Since then Liberty Media has been in charge of the management and promotion of the Formula 1 World Championship this modus operandi system is being exported on a global scale.
Just this year, on the occasion of the Hungarian and Singapore Grand Prix, F1 and Sky created the first channel dedicated specifically to children with specific programming so as to adapt the content to their understanding. There are 9 The global channels that have joined this initiative: Supersport (Pan Africa), beIN Sports (Pan Asia), Kayo Sports (Australia), Bell (Canada), SportTV (Portugal), ESPN (Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States), Sky (Great Britain and Ireland) and Viaplay (Europe). An effective system to further broaden the already large Formula 1 fanbase and decrease the average age of viewers.
In the past it was the Fox Kids channel that offered a format heavily inspired by the world of racing, in this case U.S. racing. NASCAR Racers was in fact an animated television series by Saban Entertainment that featured two rival NASCAR racing teams, Team Fastex and Team Rexcor, competing against each other in the futuristic NASCAR Unlimited Division. The series aired from 1999 to 2001.
The running scenes were animated in 3D using computer graphics while the characters were drawn in traditional two-dimensional animation.
A total of 26 episodes of half an hour each were made for the project. Before the actual airing in 2000, NASCAR Racers premiered as a three-part TV movie special on November 11, 1999. The broadcast ended in 2001. The show was produced before Fox began broadcasting NASCAR races, and for a month the live broadcasting and the cartoon overlapped so as to launch an ideal "relay race." To create an even more obvious link between the cartoon and racing, some cars donned dedicated liveries at the Pennzoil 400 at the Miami track in November 2000, just a few days before the release of the first episode.
Long ago it was Cartoon Network that sought to further extend its audience through a partnership with Nascar. The year was 1996, and the fledgling themed station-the first to offer content dedicated to children and teens full time-created by Turner Broadcasting decided to tie its name to a team from the series under a multi-year agreement. Cartoon-themed livery cars have been a constant for several seasons, raced by different teams but always with a recognizable image. Cartoons that U.S. children and others were used to seeing on TV and now recognized in races followed perhaps by their parents or older siblings. The challenge was to break the mold and gain awareness by bringing children and families closer to sports. In 2004, the channel chose to change its strategy through the sponsorship of some races during which it also guaranteed a more massive presence of branded cars. Specifically, Nascar and Cartoon Network joined forces to develop the NASCARtoon Racing brand, a campaign sponsored by Kellogg's and designed to engage young fans in the excitement of Nascar racing through the familiarity of their favorite Cartoon Network characters. The program included a presence through on-air and online ads with a national contest in addition to the NASCARtoon Racing Garage game, in which kids could design their own Cartoon Network race car using the most familiar elements from Scooby-Doo, Dexter's Lab, The Powerpuff Girls and many others.
A few years later it was Nickelodeon that linked up with the series to promote its own content. The Paramount-owned channel sponsored some of the season's races - for example, the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 held at the Kansas Speedway on May 9, 2018. For the occasion as many as 6 cars on the grid dressed liveries dedicated to the main characters from the cartoon.
In 2016 it had been the turn of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Again Danica Patrick and other drivers signed a special agreement to race in dedicated special liveries. In 2012 it was Jeff Gordon who drove his Chevrolet Impala adorned with the popular mutant characters.
Also in Nascar, a historic sponsorship, active continuously between 1990 and 2022, was Mars' sponsorship of the M&M's brand. the iconic yellow-bottomed graphic with the friendly, full-sized character-confetti has been a constant on U.S. tracks for more than 3 decades.
Staying on the theme of Ninja Turtles just this year the friendly green heroes made an appearance in the Australian V8 Supercars championship. In this case they were featured in a joint venture with Pizza Hut (famous is the characters' passion for pizza). The car driven by Macauley Jones, of Brad Jones Racing, donned a special black-green livery to promote the upcoming release of the new film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
The most self-evident connection between motorsport and childhood is certainly the playful one. Little cars, whether static or mobile, in various scales, are often the "trojan horse" that brings children closer to the world of racing. If all the various manufacturers enter into agreements with manufacturers and teams to reproduce in miniature the vehicles that are the protagonists of the various championships, there are also companies that affix their own branding to the vehicles themselves to further emphasize the link.
For example, Tonka, Tamiya, and Hot Wheels have at various stages sponsored racing vehicles.
Tonka made its appearance in NASCAR on Kenny Irwin's car in 1997 / 1998. The presence on the race tracks was accompanied by the sale of some toys themed with the most popular cars in the series.
In 2010 the very popular Hot Wheels brand sponsored Alex Tagliani's Honda car for 2 events: Toronto and Edmonton.
Tamiya, which has always been a reference point in all-around modeling and collecting, has a rich section dedicated to motor sports. So that the iconic logo with the 2 stars has camped on several occasions on racing vehicles. One of the most size-bodied declinations was on the Toyota Land Cruiser engaged in the 1989 Paris Dakar.
In 2010 even the Barbie brand linked up with the world of racing. In fact, the crew of Ramona Karlsson and Miriam Walfridsson competed in the Swedish Rally in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 whose front end featured the iconic pink of the world-famous doll.
Lego has embarked on a reverse path, linking up with several leading brands in the international motorsport scene. The relationship includes the release of ever new models in different scales and assembly complexity of the most popular racing cars of the moment and history. Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes F1, Peugeot and Porsche WEC, Audi Group B, etc.
On an entirely different level operates the sponsor of Team KCMG, which races in SuperFormula, Japan's premier open-wheel car championship. Kids Com is in fact a community for the education of children based on a collective family/experiential concept. The idea behind this company is to offer families events and situations that can provide them with enriching and educational experiences in a sharing environment. Kids Com's support of this Hong Kong-based team is already in its second year. As a result, race weekends are designed as a family experience, and Kids Com customers have access to the paddock, photo and autograph sessions with the drivers (Yuji Kunimoto and old F1 acquaintance Kamui Kobayashi), collective time with the team, and other dedicated content.
Even perhaps the most famous and best-selling comic book periodical (at least before the advent of online) flanked a racing stable, albeit briefly. In 1984 Mickey Mouse appeared on the bodywork, on either side of the cockpit, of Formula 1's Spirit Hart. An uncompetitive car that had an unlucky career from its debut: at the first test in Brazil, in fact, the returning Emerson Fittipaldi left the team due to insufficient performance while the other driver, Fulvio Maria Ballabio, did not obtain a super-license to race due to lack of results in the propaedeutic series.
The comic book entry remained visible only for those few days. However, a highly appreciated story written by Giorgio Pezzin and drawn by Giorgio Cavazzano came out in issue 1501, which basically declined in cartoon form the 1984 World Championship season.
The point of this roundup is to show that there is essentially a niche-which then is not a niche given the numbers attainable-that is currently little considered except by a few entities. The hyperspecialization and professionalism of the top rainbow series have certainly contributed to the exclusion, at least in part, of the possibility of serving as entertainment for younger children. There is also the not insignificant idea of risk and danger associated with racing that deters its approach to childhood. It would be wrong, however, to think that there is no scope for bringing well-thought-out projects to life. Think, for example, of the whole universe of e-sports and video games in general.
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