NASCAR Novela: Coming full-speed to the Hispanic audience

31 Mar

Danica Patrick winning the 2013 Daytona 500 pole is not the only big diversity move happening in NASCAR.

In an AdAge interview (2012) with NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, Phelps outlines five goals for NASCAR to achieve in the next five years:

  1. Build the star power of individual drivers
  2. Increase engagement among children and college-age consumers
  3. Attract a multicultural fan base
  4. Craft more cohesive digital- and social-media strategies
  5. Improve the racetrack experience for fans

Phelps has been driving these efforts (NASCAR pun intended) since 2010. In this Q&A session, Phelps was asked about what NASCAR is doing to attract a multicultural fan base, specifically Hispanics.

“We’ve done some small things. At three of our race tracks we did heavy up-spending in those markets buying media. We had a virtual garage tour in Spanish. The NASCAR website can be viewed in Spanish, as well, but that’s basically just a translation. Looking ahead, we’re in discussions with a Spanish-language outlet to create digital content for us, and we hope to have meaningful content live in 2013.”

Of course, it all starts small. But NASCAR executives know that Spanish garage tour and translated website is not going to seal the deal.  To attract and engage such a large market, NASCAR needs to truly capture the Hispanic audience off the track before they can capture them on it.

Just as stated in Phelps’s response, 2013 is the year for NASCAR to produce meaningful digital content to Hispanics. NASCAR has pursued digital content in one of the most popular forms of Hispanic entertainment: novelas.

¿Qué es una novela?/ What is a novela?

According to Wikipedia, a telenovela is a limited-run serial dramatic programming popular in Latin American, Portuguese, Filipino, Spanish, and American (Spanish language network) television programming. Essentially, a novela is a Spanish soap opera.

A Virtual Racing Experience

Arranque de Pasión, La Historia de Ela,’ a drama set in a fictional NASCAR world staring Latina actress Kate Del Castillo, tells a story with equal parts romance and speed. This novela is co-produced by NASCAR and Univision and will debut on Univision’s website this month. In May, ‘Arranque de Pasión’ is scheduled to appear on Univision network television.

Screenshot of Univision.com

Screenshot of Univision.com

Sounds like a pretty good gig, right? After all, NASCAR is lacking significant exposure to Hispanics. But why did NASCAR choose a novela to reach this particular audience? Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo, who stars as Ela, knows why.

“When you think about it [NASCAR], it’s all about family, and that’s what we like. It’s about spending an entire day at the track. It’s an experience, a whole day for family, and yet it’s very dangerous. It’s very dramatic. I think it’s perfect for us.” -Del Castillo

So, this is the digital media content Phelps was talking about. Hey, I think this might be the perfect element to draw Hispanic attention. Drama, passion, romance, with a racing vibe to capture viewers and make them want to be a part of the NASCAR experience.

Univision knows what they are doing when it comes to producing novelas, and NASCAR is watching over to ensure authenticity and accuracy of the sport.

Speaking of authenticity, here’s the big question: Are there going to be guest appearances from our favorite NASCAR stars? So far, all sources have indicated ‘no.’ Although the majority of the filming was conducted at Homestead-Miami Speedway, don’t get your hopes up for any guest appearances… at least not yet, I imagine this could be an aspect still up for discussion.

An Extra 0.02 Cents

This is exactly what I have been waiting for! I knew I was a Spanish minor for a reason. This is exactly what NASCAR needs: a more diverse demographic.  For a while, I was worried that the multicultural initiative was going to be all talk and no game. I think the novela is a big move and Phelps’s goal #3 is finally coming to fruition.

Look forward to a blog post about the first episode. It will be in Spanish (of course), but I am fluent and will keep all my non-Spanish speaking readers informed!

 

Sources: NASCAR Hopes To Win Latinos With Telenovela

NASCAR Targets New Audiences, Revs Up Social-Media Strategy

 

This blog post is a part of a series for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

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