What better way to haze the new guy on a Nascar crew than by making him wear a prison-orange jumpsuit stamped "Rookie," giving him a Gatorade shower and tempting him with a Playboy Playmate-caliber co-worker? Poor newbie. The scripted scenario, shot in cinema verité style, is part of an Armor All-sponsored branded entertainment campaign from Swift River Productions and Edelman's sports and entertainment division, Matter. This is season 2 of the webisodes. The first episode is above; see three more here. Season 1 followed Nascar racer Tony Stewart during some off-track activities and pulled in more than 5 million video views. The new vignettes, which launched recently on YouTube, Facebook, racing, entertainment and other sites via syndication, follow a new worker (actually an actor) at Stewart's home base, Stewart-Haas Racing. Since the marketing message is DIY, the rookie gets put through paces in the garage, which lead naturally to Armor All product placement and step-by-step tips aimed at gearheads and racing fans. Stewart himself, who fake-teases the idea that he's building a submarine out of spare car parts, usually has a hand in the rookie's success. That reinforces his nice-guy image and makes "tough-talking" comedian Earthquake, who plays the crew boss, look like a hard-ass in comparison. Now that's a feat.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley
Aside from the merchandise you'd expect, like collectible diecast cars and racing jackets, Nascar vet Dale Earnhardt Jr. has successfully put his famous imprint on weatherproof grill covers, toothbrushes, self-stick room appliques and pet ID tags. The newest frontier for this Southern gentleman/licensed product powerhouse? Vending-machine snacks. Earnhardt, working with a new Hickory, N.C., company called Wow! Foods, is launching into a world that sells $30 billion worth of candy, chips, craisins and the like every year to 100 million people through 7 million vending machines, according to the Chicago Tribune. Hardcore racing fans and other hungry folks will soon be able to buy a microwavable 8.6-ounce Dale Jr. Cheeseburger. (Comes with a pickle!) There's also the Dale Jr. Glazed Honey Bun, which the Tribune describes as "coiled and coated in a light, milky viscous-looking substance," resembling a lower intestine. (Gimme one!) Read the Trib's full coverage of the National Vending Show here. Wonder how long it'll take other celebs and sports stars to get in on this act.
—Posted by T.L. Stanley
How would you like it if your mail drop-off box talked? (As in, reassured you that the package you just put inside it was going to get to its destination as quickly as possible?) FedEx is making it happen in a campaign by BBDO, New York, that will have more than 700 drop-off boxes nationwide carrying a recording that says, "Hi, it's Denny Hamlin. If you like fast, you just dropped that package in the right place." (Listen to the audio embed below.) Hamlin is the driver of the FedEx Toyota Camry, and the effort is intended to drive excitement around the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Nascar's championship series. The promotion kicked off this week with 300 sound-activated boxes, and FedEx will install an additional 400-plus more in key Nascar markets like Greensboro, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Miami, Fla. Don't be afraid. It's just a recording.
—Posted by Elaine Wong
Have y'all been looking for an even better way to laugh at Nascar? It's called Slotcar, and it's a new online series with weekly one- to two-minute video clip produced by Animax Studios that will feature explosions, fires, critters and plenty of animated T&A of the Slotcar racing world. The clips will air after every major real-life racing event in 2009, expect the series to poke fun at all the exciting happenings in Nascar. It's also brought to you by Hardee's Restaurants, which might have to close up shop in the South after this year. As the Slotcar anchors say when they sign off: "Until next time, ram that stick in and ride that slot hard!"
—Posted by Yana Polikarpov
You would think Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be the perfect foil for Nationwide Insurance's humorous "Life comes at you fast" ad campaign. Not so. The insurance and financial services firm is opting to play it straight in upcoming ads breaking in February starring the elite driver and JR Motorsports team leader.
The ads feature Dale Jr. talking about how his family has used Nationwide for three generations. See some behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot here. "This is a serious time for Americans," John Aman, associate vp of sponsorships for Nationwide, said in a statement. "People are worried about the economy, their jobs and their retirement plans, so we didn't want to make a joke."
It's a shame because Dale Jr. actually has pretty good comic delivery, as evidenced by this ad for Amp Energy Drink.
—Posted by Kenneth Hein