Wal-Mart, NASCAR broaden licensing deal

By Reuters
Posted Feb. 18 at 12:30 p.m.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has entered a retail and licensing deal with NASCAR under which it will offer exclusive products related to the stock car racing circuit in 1,500 of its U.S. stores.

The program, dubbed “Race Time,” begins in time for the Daytona 500 race¬† Sunday, which opens the 2011 NASCAR season, 10 years after famous driver Dale Earnhardt was killed in a racing accident.

NASCAR called the Wal-Mart deal the sport’s largest retail promotion. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Wal-Mart stores have carried NASCAR merchandise for years. The deal expands those offerings with exclusive gear and related appearances and offers.

The multiyear deal was signed with NASCAR’s new licensing entity, NASCAR Team Properties, and is meant to tap into a fan base of about 75 million that studies have shown strongly supports the sport’s corporate sponsors.

“We know our customers are NASCAR fans, and we continue to look for ways to provide …¬† greater value in every aspect of their lives,” Stephen Quinn, chief marketing officer for Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations, said in a statement.

It has been a tough two years for NASCAR, marked by declining TV ratings and attendance for many races, and curtailed sports marketing budgets at many companies.

However, sponsors have begun to return and spending on motorsports sponsorships is expected to rise 4.2 percent this year, to $3.51 billion, according to IEG, a research firm owned by advertising giant WPP Plc.

Wal-Mart stores will offer such NASCAR-branded products as T-shirts, racing flags and tailgating food and beverages, with more at www.Walmart.com/NASCAR. In addition, low-priced ticket packages will be available online for some NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

“This program will allow us to get even deeper into product development over the coming years with Wal-Mart,” NASCAR Senior Vice President Paul Brooks said.

As part of the deal, Wal-Mart also will host events at several stores in 38 racing markets throughout the NASCAR season, including race car displays, driver appearances and racing simulation machines.

NASCAR Team Properties, created in July 2010, manages the intellectual property rights for several NASCAR race teams and the sport’s governing body in such categories as apparel, die-cast collectibles, toys and trackside retail.

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