Pretty Boys vs. The Good Ole' Boys Part 1
June 13, 2008
I start this with the definition of the word Metrosexual.
"Metrosexual is a neologism generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance. For example, they may have eyebrows waxed, fingers manicured, facials etc. procedures which are generally eschewed by the average male. The metro- (mother) prefix indicates this man's purely urban lifestyle, while the -sexual suffix comes from "heterosexual, " meaning that this man, although he is usually straight, embodies a heightened aesthetic sense often stereotypically attributed to gay men." - Wikepedia*
First, I want to say that jealousy or popularity of any particular driver or team has nothing to do with the writing of this. I do have an issue though. I have an issue with the commercialization and the sponsorship manipulation of NASCAR. The sport that was begun by bootleggers no longer exists. The sport that exists today is a highly commercial, sponsor driven entity that relies on large quantities of cash. Probably more than we can imagine. Without this capital floating around, I can bet that many of these drivers would be doing anything from flipping burgers at your local Burger King to working as engineers for NASA. I digress. I know there are the diehard fans out there that still waive the flags of the #3 Dale Earnhardt and the #9 Bill Elliott. I still see more of these drivers on bumper stickers than I do #48 Jimmie Johnson, #24 Jeff Gordon, and believe it or not the #88 if DEJ. Maybe that's the demographic of where I live, I really don't know.
The commercialization of NASCAR is WAY out of control. I have never seen it this bad. I think the one commercial on television that speaks volumes of the sponsor making a complete ass out of a driver is the Kasey Kahne Allstate commercial. The one where the 3 women are wet dreaming in the restaurant of Kasey dancing around like one of these boy bands in a cheesy video. His pink and blue fire suit with hearts on it makes me sick. Even makes me wonder why I bother watching at all. The sponsors want to doll up these drivers for a few advertisement dollars on television. Next thing you know, we'll have drivers like Robby Gordon sponsored by Tampax. (That commercial would be interesting to say the least.LOL!) I'll tell you the corporate shift in sponsorships came when R.J.R. Tobacco pulled the plug on the Cup series. Nextel comes in and made the sport sponsor friendly. Who would have thought that we came to a day where the sponsor had any say in who sits in the car. I recall watching a show last year where MWR was putting their Toyota Racing shop together. They were hunting sponsorship for David Reutimann. When they arrived at Burger King's head quarters, the one thing that Mikey said that startled me a bit was that he was hoping that Burger King would accept David as the Driver of the #00. Hoping they would accept? WTF??? That spoke volumes to me. Here I'm thinking, can a driver get rejected by a sponsor? If the team made an agreement with a sponsor a particular car number, does it matter who sits in that car. It is a moving billboard. What about teams that the car shares drivers? (current example, Mark Martin & Aric Almerola) Do both drivers have to pass the sponsor interview? If the sponsor doesn't like a driver, but the team has a corporate agreement to carry their logo, will a driver get walking papers? Is this why we sometime see changes midseason with drivers? I can bet that performance and points standings play into a driver being canned. I can also bet that the decision is more sponsor than team owner. Those sponsors want as much TV time for their buck as they can get and if the driver isn't cutting it, the sponsor has to be pressuring the team owners. An example where I think sponsorships are points driven happened recently with BAM racing. Because the car fell out of the top 35, Microsoft pulled the plug and switched to a team that was within the top 35 (#00 Michael McDowell of MWR). Pretty much left a low budget team in the crap can. I can go on with a ton more examples if needed.
What's happening to long term single hood sponsorships?
Does everyone remember the day where the hoods of the cars had the same decals on them the ENTIRE racing season? Those days are dead and gone. I remember when the #18 ran by Bobby Labonte ran the Interstate Batteries logo on the hood the entire season. This year, #18 ran by Kyle Busch has ran Combo's, Interstate, Snickers, and M&M's on the hood. It's no wonder that many of these younger drivers are NOT choosing to have families. With all these sponsor "commitments" who has the time. In my opinion, these multi-sponsorship deals are the result of the France family allowing these companies, plaster themselves all over these cars and tracks for all the advertisement exposure in this dismal economy. The expense is the driver. Yes, I repeat. THE DRIVER. This leads to my next subject.
The Sales Pitch..
What is the one thing that you need to succeed in the world of advertisement? Good looks and possibly a good hook. Look at any billboard along the highway. I live in west central Florida and and driving down US Highway 19 frequently, I see a zillion billboards. And every person on the billboard is the perfect face for that product. Well, NASCAR rarely uses billboards outside the tracks so the ads are run on televisions nationwide. We see Carl Edwards pushing Claritin, Aflac Insurance and Office Depot. Carl has this made for TV face. A Midwest charm that can relate to potential buyers of allergy medicine, insurance, and office supplies. I remember when the Nationwide Series went to Mexico City earlier this year. Carl and the TV camera crew went into an Office Depot there and were kicked out for filming. The funny thing is no one in that Mexico Office Depot knew who Carl was. Did the Company drop the ball? Or does Office Depot only worry about the American demographic in regards to advertising. On the other hand, the hook of the commercial can bring in the potential buyer. The Napa commercials used to be good. Now, they portray the fans as taking cheap shots at Michael Waltrip because his win / loss record is anything but stellar. I am a Waltrip fan until the end. Yeah, Mikey is probably making a boatload of cash for himself and Napa. I believe, though, that Napa in a bizarre way is punishing its driver. Maybe I reading too much into this. Maybe I'm not. Mikey is not one of these polished ready for Television drivers like a Jeff Gordon, DEJ, Carl Edwards or even Kasey Kahne, who looks way too young to pushing Budweiser. That's my friends is another topic all in itself. Mikey is a seasoned driver who shows up for work as Mikey. I've seen enough episodes of This week in NASCAR. Hell this guy doesn't even care if he's on camera with his hair all up in a mess. Tony Stewart will NEVER be in a shaving commercial or a Great Clips commercial. Jeff Gordon, on the other hand, has something in common with the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Go to any high priced cologne case and you will know what I'm talking about. Jimmie Johnson is a wannabe Tim "the Toolman" Taylor in his Kobalt Tools ads. Does David Reutimann have a career, after NASCAR, dressing up like the Lucky Dog at Aarons? Maybe DEJ makes a great face on a recruitment poster these days.. What do you think? Does Tony Stewart honestly think that home renovation can help you win a race? Will the Gillette Young Guns show up at the track with punk rock haircuts or actually have the grapefruits to kick John Cena's ass. I think you get the picture.
What really happened to the Good ole' boys? They have been replaced with this prim and proper form of driver that is sponsor and television friendly. I ask you what you prefer, a metrosexual driver who worries about his next big commercial, how much hair gel he uses and the size of his wallet. Or a driver who is there to be a driver because his passion is behind the wheel and not in front of the camera. We are the fans. We choose based on OUR spending habits. I'm a fan of a decent commercial but GIVE ME A BREAK…
In part 2, Babyface selling Bud, Feedback if any, and more…
Wikipedia quote Copyright (c) 2008 Wikipedia.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
(the remainder of the article is ©2008 Chris Martin, used with permission)
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