• Domino's Pizza revs up NASCAR spending as associate sponsor of Waltrip car

Domino's Pizza, which became the "Official Pizza of NASCAR" this year, has expanded its involvement on the popular racing circuit with a new partnership with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI).

According to a news release, under the agreement, Domino's will become an associate sponsor of the #15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet driven by Michael Waltrip.

Domino's has not publicized what it spends on its NASCAR ad program, but based stock car industry averages, it's at least a seven-figure sum.

Racing industry sources claim the cost of primary sponsorship of a top car like Waltrip's ranges from $5 million to $15 million per season. Associate sponsorships, sometimes called secondary sponsorships, typically cost $500,000 to $2 million.

Signature sponsorships, such as Domino's "official pizza" designation can run as much as $5 million. According to the St. Petersburg Times, that's the sum Exide Batteries paid in 2000 to be NASCAR's official battery.

It appears Domino's—whose last major racecar sponsorship was in 1990, when Arie Luyendyke won the Indianapolis 500 wearing the chain's red, white and blue colors—thinks the money's well spent.

"We've learned that companies must pass three tests before consumers associate a company as a true NASCAR sponsor," said Ken Calwell, executive vice president, Build the Brand, Domino's Pizza. "There must be an authentic partnership, awareness through advertising and promotions and a connection on the track. Now that Domino's Pizza is a part of the DEI crew, we've added that final element and we are taking this to a whole new level."

Waltrip debuted his #15 NAPA racecar with Domino's logos (on the right panel, behind the number 15, and on the left-rear quarter panel) during an Oct. 24 press conference at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Throughout the 2004 season, a #15 show car will make a cross-country tour for display at 90 Domino's stores. Other details of the agreement include Waltrip's participation in Domino's advertising, online marketing initiatives and promotions.

"Domino's has taken a very intelligent, scaled approach to learning about our sport, establishing a connection with our fans, then increasing their involvement in NASCAR," said Brett Yormark, vice president for corporate marketing at NASCAR. "Their progression from official sponsor to partnering at a team level is right on plan."

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