Shell NASCAR Alliance Suffers Setback

Searching for replacement after Penske Racing fires Busch

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Carole Donoghue, Petroleum Editor

HOUSTON -- Shell has just seen part of a multi-million dollar major marketing campaign run out of gas. The company devoted a major portion of its advertising energy to promoting NASCAR race driver Kurt Busch, who was fired by the Penske Racing Team on December 5 after he was caught on camera making an obscene gesture.

Shell signed an endorsement deal with Penske Racing in April 2010. It has promoted the NASCAR alliance through advertising campaigns, station promotions and price discounts at the pump. Marketers were offered cardboard cutouts of Busch and his No. 22 car and special No. 22 gift cards, while consumers received 22 cents per gallon off of Shell fuel for one day a week every time Busch won a race.

Click here to view the "WINsdays with Kurt Busch" web page.

Shell marketers pressed the company to get back into NASCAR sponsorship in 2006. At the time, Shell cited outside research showing that 75 million adults are NASCAR fans and they are three times as likely to buy NASCAR products and services and pay a premium for them.

Shell announced the end of Busch's relationship with Penske in a short message to marketers yesterday.

"Shell and Pennzoil support the actions taken by Penske Racing," the refiner said. "Moving forward, we will continue to utilize our motorsports program top gain technical knowledge for our products and brands and to promote them to consumers in a positive way. Penske racing has begun the search for a suitable replacement to one of the most desired rides in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition."

Penske announced Busch's separation from its racing team a day after he was fined $50,000 on November 25 by NASCAR for profanely abusing a reporter and using an obscene gesture at the Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Superway.

"While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was best for all parties, including our team and sponsors," said Roger Penske.

It is the second time that Busch has been fired by a racing team for a nonracing matter. In November 2005, he lost his position with Roush Fenway racing after being cited in an alcohol-related incident in Avondale, Ariz.

Busch had been driving for Penske for six years, notching up 16 race victories. In a statement, Busch said, "Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it's an important step for me and allows me to take a deep breath to work on things that can make me better driver and a better person." He has said that he has been seeing a sports psychologist for two months.

Keywords: 
loyalty