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IndyCar’s Real Conundrum: No One Is Watching

A great, competitive and exciting product but with a far too small television/digital media fan base
A great, competitive and exciting product but with a far too small television/digital media fan base

While reading Mark Wilkerson’s article that appeared on Motorsport.com, entitled “IndyCar’s Open-Cockpit Conundrum”, which was very well written, it occurred to me that the real conundrum lies with IndyCar itself.

The depth of talent, the equipment, the personalities and the racing are actually quite stellar. The problem is all of these elements add up to a stellar product but, they do not, however, seem to add up to a marketable product.

Could it be that they aren’t correctly marketing a stellar product in a way that can capture sufficient market share needed to achieve sustainability and more importantly for the long haul, growth?

Why is it that every IndyCar race we see is hotly contested by drivers from all four corners of the globe, entertaining and often controversial, but still remains a hidden gem? It wasn’t always so.

To me that is the real conundrum.

Formula One has for some time been a member of the “rattlesnakes are eating themselves” club with a dwindling field, teams that are going broke and a sanctioning body that doesn’t really see the value in the myriad of digital media choices that are now crowding the landscape.

Few venues in the world can compete with the 2015 season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.
Few venues in the world can compete with the 2015 season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Is IndyCar self-inflicting these same wounds? If so, they had better summon massive triage here and now.

The world of leisure has no intention of waiting for them to have an ‘Aha!” moment. That moment has gone by and IndyCar should be fighting tooth and claw to catch up.

Though the venues IndyCar runs aren’t what we see in Formula One, they are, at least, entertaining. A weekend of activities that a family can attend and take in multiple experiences from music to sim-games to autograph sessions are desirable and are in full play. Are the drivers accessible enough? Yes.

Try getting anywhere near the F1 drivers. Ain’t happening.

It’s media that is keeping IndyCar down and the interactivity of the media. The nature of it. Can you actually remember seeing a well done IndyCar ad on television, much less push notification or digital media ad buys that have some hook? I can’t.

When IndyCar comes to town in the Tampa Bay area it may as well be invisible. The promotion of the race, which in terms of beautiful venues rivals any in the world, is virtually nowhere in a 2.7 million market DMA. That’s just local.

Nationally? They may as well not exist.

I’m not dissing IndyCar and their product. I do, however, take issue with whatever marketing strategy is driving the product. That’s one of the glaring problems I see. No one really seems to know whose in charge of the marketing or what it really is.

The 2015 season should have taken a trip outside the box back in 2014 prepping for the new season. A strong, forward thinking program needed to be developed that engaged an audience far outside the core fan, which are dwindling.

There is another death knell scenario in the entertainment industry, and let’s face it, this is entertainment, and that is: “Out of sight, out of mind” and good luck recapturing it.

A six month season, as exciting as it may have been or may be in 2015, is long forgotten over a long protracted fall and winter. No one thinks about, talks about it or tweets about it. No one gives a it a second thought.

Increase the racing schedule, even if you have a smaller field. Add more races that are meaningful and stretch into the NFL’s domain. You cannot be timid, you have to fight to attract their audience as there is a crossover, perhaps small, but it’s there. People will switch back and forth on the remote. Better that than complete obscurity.

It isn’t the broadcasters, ABC and NBCsn are more than legitimate, but the season’s so short that it simply becomes irrelevant in a world that demand frequency. On-line media 101 tells that story very well.

IndyCar has the product, now it needs to force itself in front of a potential audience with frequency and professional, polished, brash and ‘anything other than Gene Simmons’ marketing.

 

 

 

 

 

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