Emojisport: Hashtags in the Fast Lane… of NASCAR Marketing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While I throughly enjoy motorsport, my NASCAR fandom has dwindled over the years. It’s not a frequency I’m perpetually tuned into anymore, but I revisit the series regularly to keep tabs on what’s happening. However, when I put on Sunday’s race, I noticed something different about the cars. Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet had a picture of his own face on the side, as did Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota. What the hell was going on?

A few minutes of investigation later, I learned that NASCAR had decided to slap emoji’s on the side of every important vehicle to celebrate the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs. Monster Energy Cup Series race teams have each unveiled customized hashtags and emojis for all 16 of the competing drivers in collaboration with the Race Team Alliance and Twitter. And it’s probably my least favorite marketing gimmick in motorsport’s history.

When did car numbers stop being sufficient? I understand that heavy handed sponsorship is the lifeblood of oval racing but this is almost embarrassing. I’d rather drive a car sponsored by Viagra than one with a cartoon doodle of my own face gracing the quarter panel. Furthermore, drivers have all taken these images (some they even helped design) and used them as profile photos for their individual Twitter accounts.

“The Twitter hashtags and emojis have rallied fans around their favorite drivers during the most exciting time in our season,” explained Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “This year, we’re thrilled to work with Twitter and the race teams to bring this activation to life on the race cars for fans in attendance and those watching the NASCAR Playoffs on NBC and NBCSN.”

I’m not going to criticize this further. As NASCAR continues losing its longterm sponsors, it needs new financial opportunities to present themselves and a better way to reach prospective viewers. This Twitter thing is probably a semi-necessary evil. However, I would rather see tobacco products making a return to the hoods of cars instead of this goofy, millennial-focused nonsense. Most kids won’t think this is cool and adults will have no clue what do with it.

Hello self… pic.twitter.com/yQDqLDxtMA

— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) September 12, 2018

[Image: NASCAR]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Sep 17, 2018

    Showroom cars, weld the doors shut, take out the glass, install a roll cage and 5 point belts, go racing. That I would watch.

  • 2000ChevyImpalaLS 2000ChevyImpalaLS on Sep 17, 2018

    You can almost set your watch by it. Post an article about any aspect of NASCAR, and you'll get the doomsayers predicting the end, those complaining about the points system, and those who complain about the cars not actually being "stock" (shocker!). These same people will tell you that they don't watch, or haven't watched in years, and they'll mock you if you say you do. I've been a fan of NASCAR since I was a very small child. I would almost rather nobody at TTAC attempt an article on the sport, simply to avoid the inevitable, incessant whining that results. Review cars, the joys and pains of ownership, the junkyard, the business side... these are what this site does best. But stay away from motorsports here. Please.

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