I love markets. Markets generally tell us what people really want and how much they value something. For example, gun rights and fast cars.
For those of you who aren’t NASCAR fans, NRA has sponsored a race tonight, the NRA 500. As a politician opposed to freedom and fun, Chris Murphy (D-CT) stepped in and tried to use the pressure of his office to have NASCAR turn on NRA’s long planned sponsorship. That didn’t work, so Murphy turned on Fox to try and get them to yank it from the air. (Though NASCAR has pledged to review their sponsorship agreements after the race.)
Fox didn’t pull it, but fans are noticing that Fox announcers are going out of their way to avoid saying the name of the race tonight except where they are contractually obligated to do so. (I would embed the tweet on that topic here, but Cameron Gray of NRA News, who reported on the contract requirements, blocks us for some reason, so I cannot get the embed code.) I just can’t fathom how a network that really needs to attract viewers willing to spend money on sponsors and advertisers decides that it is in their best interest to piss off those people ready to spend money.
How do I know they are ready to spend money? Easy, the President of the Texas Motor Speedway tells us that the combined NRA & NASCAR fanbase is spending big, big bucks:
— Eddie Gossage (@eddiegossage) April 14, 2013
According to a statement by Gossage covered by ESPN earlier, objections to the NRA sponsorship are few and far between. Interestingly, they actually looked up those who complained and found that the vast majority of those few are not even customers.
“We’ve had fewer than a dozen responses,” Gossage said. “Of those, only two had purchased tickets [to other TMS events]. There is no controversy or big uproar or even a tiny uproar.”
But Fox is hardly the only shortsighted business involved in tonight’s race. The same ESPN article notes that the PR directors for two drivers ordered them not to grant any interviews in the media room so that they won’t have to be pictured with the letters NRA behind them. No doubt those same PR pros have probably squashed any efforts by the driver or their teams to use the #NRA500 hashtag tonight on Twitter – you know, the hashtag that’s trending nationwide right now. We wouldn’t want those drivers to turn up for any racing fans searching that hashtag, now would we?
If I was a driver, regardless on my views of guns, I would look at the merchandise sales and the social media opportunities lost, then I would promptly fire my PR person for not knowing a damn thing about my customer base. Numbers don’t lie, but PR directors apparently do when motivated by politics instead of the best business interests of their clients.
If Gossage is interested, this former Texas Motor Speedway customer appreciates the class the Speedway has shown in the face of a hostile media and an lawmaker who forgets we’re a free society. Granted, the last event I attended was a Rolling Stones concert in high school. But I am a proven customer nonetheless!
*Title shamelessly stolen from ExUrban Kevin