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July 13 2004

Are NASCAR Fans Smarter Than We Are? They have no problem worrying about their favourite pastime whereas Angel and other genre shows fans do. And why? Could brand loyalty really be the answer?

Hmm, he has some good points. Pity I'm not an american ;) We don't have that very capitalist system here of sponsoring in tv.
I am a NASCAR fan and a BtVS fan. First person to call NASCAR stupid or racist or redneck-infested gets flamed like no one's ever been flamed before.
The first person to flame someone will get booted like no one's been booted before.
Um.......whats an NASCAR? Football? Sports?
Well, NASCAR also has a much much higher viewership than any of the genre TV shows, which makes its continued existence a lot more secure in the first place. Though, it's probably not a bad strategy for that large fanbase to support the sponsors to keep them putting money into it. I'm not convinced a similar strategy would work for keeping our shows on the air, because many of the sponsors support a lot of shows, and there's not much way to correlate the 4 million viewers of Angel with the sales for those products (my guess). I mean, isn't that why they use Nielsen ratings to set timeslot advertising prices rather than some more precise indicator of who's buying what at what hour? Besides, NASCAR sponsorship means that the associated brands are placed prominently *during* the races. The equivalent model for Angel, etc, would be to place products prominently in the show (though I did notice a rather oddly and prominently placed sticker naming the brand of the office phones they used in W&H *under* the phone where the camera could catch it - though I've forgotten the brand now).

I mean, it's probably never a bad idea to support the sponsors and advertisers of your favorite televised whatever, but I don't think it's that straighforward when it comes to TV shows with relatively small viewership and no direct sponsors.

(on a side note, I watch Formula 1, and sorry, I'm just not going to go out of my way to support half of their major sponsors, since I don't smoke, and the other half produces rather expensive computer equipment I can't afford to support)

Apocalypse - it's car racing (according to my bf - the biggest form of motor sports in the US). Oval track. It's something like North America Stock Car Auto Racing, though I'm mostly guessing at that.

[ edited by teenes on 2004-07-13 17:41 ]
I agree with you teenes -- even if we did all rush out to buy the products advertised during our favorite shows, there would be no way for those companies to know which show we were supporting. It all sounds like a pointless exercise to me. Besides, there would have to be many more genre fans picking up Pampers or Pepsi to even make a dent on their radar. We don't quite have the numbers that sports fans do.
The network sells the audience to advertisers. The audience of Wonderfalls is considerably smaller than the audience for NASCAR.

It's also not as diverse. NASCAR is a family event, which makes it easier to create brand loyalty. With Wonderfalls, the network has to guess how many of what demo will be watching. And then sell that number of viewers within the demographic to the advertisers that want that number of that demographic.

It's easier to do with NASCAR, which has a history from which to pull numbers. The cars themselves advertise the products, so each race is a commercial. There's the "live" audience at the track, watching the commercials drive in circles (and NASCAR sells out in record numbers), and the audience at home, who are watching the commercials in between the races which are just really fast commercials that get blowed up from time to time.

You want Angel to wear a leather jacket with a Dupont logo on the back? Or Spike to wear a Tampax t-shirt? Okey dokey.

I don't think this guy makes sense, or at least, I can't figure out how it would really work. Maybe Angel always drinks a Coke, in every ep. Maybe Blue Fred gets her first period and decides that the new "quieter" Kotex wrappers help her keep her stealth, and she remarks how quiet they are with each passing ep.

It's not such a stretch, they always used Apple computers, right?

We did mention every advertiser in our Firefly ad, and send a copy to the advertisers. The fans also emailed and wrote postcards to the sponsors swearing loyalty if they'd just keep sponsoring...but Firefly wasn't hitting whatever magic number in whichever demo FOX sold to the sponsors. So that didn't matter.

I'm rambling. Need coffee.
Anyone see that episode of Alias this year where the first 10 minutes seemed like a Ford F-150 commercial?

Maybe Angel should've got one of those.
NASCAR is a family event

Wow, that line made me cringe. And I'm from deep NASCAR country. Can't drive anywhere in Missouri without seeing a 'number' on someone's car/truck. My husband finally had to ask what it meant. Apparently watching cars run around a track ad nauseam hasn't made the jump to Holland!

Too bad the Dixie Chicks weren't a sponsor. They got some 'product placement'!
I honestly think that people who work on those cars are as bright as Joss. The only thing worse than anti-intellectualism is elitism.
The connection with ads aired during an ad break in a show have a tenuious link with the show, no way like having a logo on a racecar. Even a company sponsoring a show, like Skittles did with BtVS here in the UK a couple of years ago, didn't make me go out and buy Skittles.

The only thing on the horizon that would involve a direct link between fans of a show and their credit cards is the possibility of series being made exclusivly for DVD release.
Well, hang on a sec Chirp. Seems like you're reacting to a blow that hasn't fallen yet. Cars driving around a track does nothing for me personally, and yet I understand that the same logical reduction can be done with any sport (e.g. soccer - bunch of grown men chasing a ball, boring, etc.). Doesn't mean I think NASCAR - or Formula One - participants or viewers are stupid or racist. In fact, calling an entire pursuit "racist" (unless it's, erm, cross-burning say) tells you more about the intellect of the speaker than about the activity itself.

Have to disagree with you about Joss. It's a proven fact that his intellect far exceeds our own. Well, not proven, but I can well believe it.
I think you're comparing apples to oranges, there, Chirp. I work with some of the brightest people on the planet (in their chosen field, physics), and not a one of 'em could write a script if given a million years to do so. Nor could Joss make a BEC, or rebuild an engine, I'd guess.

Different kinds of bright. Comparing one to the other does injustice to both, I think. And I don't think you can measure either talent in any sort of non-subjective way in which you could prove it. Can't really weigh talent.
You want Angel to wear a leather jacket with a Dupont logo on the back? Or Spike to wear a Tampax t-shirt?

Thanks for the nightmares, Allyson.

This guy's point seems to be that AtS fans didn't have brand loyalty. I think the problem is, the show's advertisers weren't trying to sell AtS fans the right products. I mean, where were the ads for puppet Angels?

Seriously, though. Verizon was one of Angel's most frequent sponsors, with one of the coolest tie-in ads I've ever seen (which actually used the Hyperion hotel set as its backdrop. Anyone remember it?). It caught my attention because it showed Verizon really cared about reaching AtS fans specifically. I don't have a cell phone, but I will admit that should I buy one, I'd be likelier to give them a look before any other company.

With the exception of Verizon, though, all the other ads on the show were your generic variety, predominately aimed at males -- cars, video games (first person shooter/car chase emphasis), soda, fast food (not that women don't eat fast food, but it's pretty well known that men tend to cook less, and are thus more apt to eat out, so...). The demo WB supposedly wanted for Angel was male, so that tracks. But with much of the show's fanbase being female, I have to ask: Where were the products we chicks might be more interested in?

Marketing in general is an inexact (and largely arbitrary) 'science', so expecting the WB or their advertisers to know my personal taste is unreasonable when there's no really accurate way for them to obtain that sort of information. But couldn't they have at least acknowledged the other half of the viewing public outside their marketing focus? We have money too, you know. And female viewers provided a lot of the ratings Angel did recieve -- ratings that went up in its last season. If they had marketed more specifically to us, I have no doubt that as the chief shoppers of our households (have they actually noticed most men hate to shop?) we would have bolstered their advertisers' bottom lines, and perhaps demonstrated Angel's value to them in a way that could be quantified outside of sheer ratings.

That said, I honestly don't think better advertising, or greater brand loyalty from AtS fans, would have kept the show on the air. The WB hasn't known what to do with Angel ever since it became apparent it wasn't ever going to become BtVS 2.0, and they basically used it as a chesspiece to strategically fill in empty spaces on their scheduling board because it was convenient, not because they valued the fanbase or what the show could add to their network in terms of sheer coolness (not to mention the show's writing excellence and sky-high production values...). They think they're in touch with what's cutting edge on their teen-focused shows, but Angel was the most cutting edge show they had, and they had absolutely no idea what to do with it, or the smart, net-savvy fanbase it attracted.

NASCAR draws its fanbase from across a huge spectrum of individuals, as most sports do. Any TV show, except the most mainstream and broadbased (see 'American Idol'), would be hard pressed to show a similar degree of success. That's just the way it is. Fans of genre can't really be said to be smarter than NASCAR fans because there's actually an overlap (as has been pointed out -- and is the case in my family), but perhaps genre fans in general are smarter than the average TV viewer. We're harder to market to because we're not easily won over; we draw from across a diverse age range; and our tastes are more difficult to nail down because they're ahead of the mainstream curve. And that makes networks and advertisers nervous. Yet we represent their future profitability. The very people they're trying so hard to reach are the people who could care less about what they're selling.

All of which does nothing to help genre on network TV. I guess until we get DVD on demand or ME makes its move to basic cable, we're mostly humped.
Chirp, my boyfriend began watching NASCAR when he lived down in the US. He is an engineer and a genius. And I don't mean "genius", as in "he's real smart". I mean genius, as in his IQ is above the level required to be a genius. He enjoys the physics of racing. I thought you would like to know that for the next person who tries to call a NASCAR fan "stupid".

By the way, he also enjoys BtVS and Angel.
I work with some of the brightest people on the planet (in their chosen field, physics),

I thought you were a party planner, Allyson. Maybe I'm thinking of someone else? And I agree, it's a whole different type of intelligence. It does take smarts to build a car or work on an engine, and even a level of skill to drive them. But writing an intelligent script/plotting out a 22 ep storyline is just not even in the same field.

I thought you would like to know that for the next person who tries to call a NASCAR fan "stupid".

Well, fact of the matter is, there are plenty of NASCAR fans who are stupid. Same with any kind of fan. I've seen plenty of Buffy fans who are stupid too. I don't think the 'topic' of the fandom can insinuate one thing or another about the fans. Unless you're a fan of Nonlinear Physics or something by which the interest/enjoyment requires a certain level of intelligence. But even then, you've got 'common sense' and 'intelligence', and those are also two different things.

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2004-07-14 02:22 ]
It seems to me that there are a number of factors being left out of the equation here. As with most sports, there was a fan base long before TV advertisers had the kind of power that they have today. Perhaps I am wrong (NASCAR is not my sport, so I could be wrong here), but it seems to me that NASCAR popularity on TV did not really take off until the advent of those little mini-cams the drivers wear, that allow the viewer to be "in" the car, to "experience" the speed of the vehicle while safely drinking beer and eating popcorn in the Barcalounger -- as well as the advent of dozens of cable networks, which opened up more hours of TV for sporting events. That is, technology had as much to do with the sport's popularity on television as advertising. And, for most people, the popularity of sports comes from the (sometimes mistaken) belief that the end result is unfixed and unpredictable.

While one could argue that special effects are having similar technological effects on genre TV, the appeal is still much different. Story-telling engages a different part of the mind (this is not an IQ issue at all), rather like mathematical calculations and affective responses to art engage different aspects of the mind. And story-telling genres are more difficult to advertise, because viewers aren't quite sure what they are going to get. Should I invest my time with this episode? Am I invested in the characters? Sports enthusiasts, while they may not know what the outcome of the event will be, know exactly what they will be getting. So this is an unresolvable apples and oranges issue, and it should not be insinuated that genre fans are doing something wrong because their interests aren't as popular.

Just an added thought: there was a piece on NPR last week that talked about advertising, and how the advertising industry is in crisis. Despite assaulting viewers with every form of product placement (including the upcoming ads that will be printed on potato chips), people are completely turned off by the onslaught -- evidenced in part by the popularity of TiVo devices, DVD sales, etc. The market is so oversaturated that apparently there is little direct correlation between advertising and sales. So the question is, what will this do to the future of television? NASCAR or genre?
I thought you were a party planner, Allyson.

I have an LLC and do event planning on nights and weekends (and a lot of lunch breaks), and work a regular 9-5 job, too.

Next event is for a romance writer fandom, in Boston. (Suze Brockmann, if anyone is interested.)
Maybe I'm just missing it, but I fail to see any valid comparison between scripted genre TV and car sports. Or at least any comparison that would be of any type of use to genre TV. These are simply two entirely different beasties.

And apart from any 'rednecky' associations some may feel is connected to NASCAR I think most sports, and especially car sports are far more 'respected' as a thing to be 'into' than genre shows like Buffy or Angel.

(Really who would be skickered at louder, someone who went to a NASCAR event, or someone saying they went to a Buffy convention?)

Which is sad for me seeing how as I couldn't care less about any car sport whatsoever but am a big genre nerd....heh.
I just love seeing my two favorite things in the world in an article together: Angel and NASCAR. I'm with Chirp in debunking the stereotype of the racing fan. I have to say that the Joss fans and NASCAR fans are my two favorite subcultures in the world. But I agree with some of the other posts that the brand sponsorship for genre television really isn't the same. I mean, can you see Angel saying, "We couldn't have killed these demons without the help of the Coca Cola Home Depot Budweiser Napa Auto Parts Nabisco Drakkar Chevrolet. I'd like to thank Gunn and Wesley and the rest of the pit crew for the adjustments they made during the fight that got us here. Those good year tires combined with the medievel armor were the ticket." Something like that. Anyway, I don't have new Angel series anymore, but I love knowing there's a race coming up! Cheers!
The market is so oversaturated that apparently there is little direct correlation between advertising and sales. So the question is, what will this do to the future of television? NASCAR or genre?

I was looking this up for a completely unrelated reason (trying to figure out why the cigarette company sponsors disappeared from the Formula 1 cars for the last 3 races, when I only knew about a smoking advertising ban in Canada), but this article might be of interest: Tobacco ad bans could put auto racing in the pits (about Formula One).

Apparently, some people do think there's an actual correlation between advertising and sales, though this obviously isn't statistical evidence of any sort and may not mean anything:
The World Health Organization condemned the sport in 1996, calling it a "nonstop commercial" for cigarettes. It even called for a global ban on the broadcasting of tobacco advertising "masquerading" as sports sponsorship. And the EU, which first considered such a step in 1990, is set to impose a complete ban by the end of 2005.

And it definitely constitutes a heavy chunk of the budget that keeps Formula One, at least, running:
In the end, after much haggling between Bernie Ecclestone, who owns the commercial rights for the sport, and city officials, the event - which pumps $58 million into Montreal's economy - proceeded without big tobacco, costing each team unreported sums and the government $8.7 million.

If sponsors do feel that advertising gets them less returns, it is interesting to find how sports and TV will get their funding. My bf (one of the smartest computer programmers I know, MIT grad, who races cars on the weekends) has been talking about the advent of video-on-demand, which should change advertising models and ratings calculations considerably....
Ally, SoddingNancy

You're both right. I was just afraid of seeing the disdain that lots of people have for NASCAR and "pro-acted"
Hi Chirp, I'm never an Ally. It makes me cringe.
No harm done Chirp.

As a man who has been mocked in this country - by which I mean the U.S. - for his love of football (i.e. soccer), cricket (the sport), mashed potatoes, Marmite (the *delicious* savoury spread), comic books, scooters (the motorized kind), foreign languages, and, above all, BtVS and AtS; and derided for his inability to "get" Friends (the sit-com), sushi (it's OK, nothing special), any of the TV reality shows, big fancy cars, and, well, Las Vegas, I entirely empathize with your fear of having your way of life downtrodden. As you can see, I'm not bitter ;)
SoddingNancyTribe, you were mocked for mashed potato-love? The inhumanity. Is there nothing sacred? ;)

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