Nextel Connects During NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Inaugural Year
Company reflects on the results of year one, looks to future
RESTON, Va. (Dec. 20, 2004) - The first year of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series built the foundation for a powerful partnership between one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies and NASCAR, the sanctioning body of racing's premier series.
While paying tribute to the sport's history, Nextel launched a strategic marketing and public relations plan, which resulted in increased awareness and acceptance of Nextel Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTL) within the NASCAR industry and among its fans. More than 90 percent of avid fans are now aware of Nextel as the title sponsor. This was accomplished through at-track branding, national promotions, advertising campaigns and proactive media relations, which resulted in a conservative return of $100 million of earned media value.
"Entering into our partnership with NASCAR was one of the best decisions we ever made," said Tim Donahue, president and chief executive officer of Nextel. "We are grateful to the NASCAR community and the fans for their acceptance. The Nextel team has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of the people who not only run the sport, but more importantly, support the sport."
As a result of Nextel's integrated business marketing plan, the company increased its customer base of NASCAR fans. These customers have proven to be extremely valuable to the company, bringing in average revenues 20 percent higher than the average Nextel subscriber. Nextel also has seen a 400 percent increase in its customer base within the NASCAR industry - including teams, tracks and other related vendors.
Nextel's efforts to enhance the fan experience have extended far beyond traditional marketing tactics. To improve wireless phone service at the track, the company increased the capacity of the Nextel at-track wireless network through NASCOWS, portable "cell on wheels" towers that traveled to every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. The four NASCOWs are the combined equivalent to 15 traditional cell sites. This improved service resulted in more than 500,000 customers using their Nextel phones at-track a total of 50 million times, through cellular calls, Nextel Direct Connect ®, the instant, nationwide push to talk walkie-service, and wireless data uses.
"We've found that the NASCAR fan is a very high-value customer," Donahue continued. "The NASCAR fan who is a Nextel customer uses 300 more minutes for calls and 150 more minutes for Direct Connect on a monthly basis in comparison to our traditional customer. Our goal is for Nextel to be the provider of choice when people make a move among wireless phone carriers."
One example of Nextel's technology development of NASCAR-based products and applications is Nextel FanScan. This service provides access to in-car audio of drivers and teams talking during the race, which allows fans at home to be a part of the at-track action. The subscription-based application, which is available on the i736 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and driver phones, sold out more than four times since its introduction this summer, causing Nextel to increase its capacity at several races.
In July, Nextel launched a national consumer sweepstakes. Fans selected the driver they thought would win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship. Of the more than 370,000 entries, 40,000 of which were entered through their Nextel phones, 10 first place finalists representing each of the 10 qualifying drivers were selected at random. Each finalist enjoyed an incredible fan weekend, complete with airline tickets for the finalist and three friends, accommodations in a luxury motorcoach, a meet and greet with his/her selected driver and VIP tours. Patrick Beall, from Sweetwater, Texas, was the finalist aligned with Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship, who received a grand prize of $250,000.
NASCAR has been integrated into all facets of Nextel's business, including employee relations, community relations and public affairs. The more than 18,000 employees of Nextel have embraced the value of the sponsorship, and worked to integrate corporate-wide community initiatives trackside. Programs such as DONATE A PHONE® encouraged fans to bring their used cell phones to the track to recycle and donate the proceeds to the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services. Nextel also assisted the Department of Homeland Security by educating NASCAR fans about the importance of personal preparedness through the America Prepared program. Both of these initiatives were executed at-track inside The Nextel Experience, Nextel's 6,400-square-foot interactive fan destination that traveled to all 36 races in 2004. The Nextel Experience attracted more than 400,000 visitors during the year and more than 100,000 fans tried Nextel's Direct Connect service.
In addition, Nextel donated $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang, a sleep-away camp for children with chronic and terminal illnesses. Nextel continues to develop programs to further assist the camp. In October and November of 2004, a portion of the proceeds from sales of NASCAR-themed accessories was donated to Victory Junction Gang resulting in an additional gift of $100,000.
In 2005, Nextel will continue to look for ways to enhance the sport and the fan experience through its technology, bringing fans closer to the sport.
Nextel Communications, a FORTUNE 200 company based in Reston, Va., is a leading provider of fully integrated wireless communications services and has built the largest guaranteed all-digital wireless network in the country covering thousands of communities across the United States. Today 95 percent of FORTUNE 500* companies are Nextel customers. Nextel and Nextel Partners Inc. currently serve 297 of the top 300 U.S. markets where approximately 259 million people live or work.