ATLANTIC SPONSORSHIP TAKES SC&T SALES TO THE FRONT OF THE FIELD By Blair Hefty When most small or medium size businesses look at major league auto racing as a way to marketing their products or...
ATLANTIC SPONSORSHIP TAKES SC&T SALES TO THE FRONT OF THE FIELD By Blair Hefty
When most small or medium size businesses look at major league auto racing as a way to marketing their products or services, they quickly dismiss the idea because they feel they can't afford the cost. But don't tell that to Jamie Copland, founder, chairman and CEO of SC&T International, Inc.
SC&T, which develops computer accessories and peripheral products that are marketed under the Platinum Sound trade name, sponsors KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship driver Anthony Lazzaro. Lazzaro drives for long time Atlantic team owner Pierre Phillips.
SC&T also makes Per4mer Racing Wheels for use with Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and IBM PC's. The Per4mer, which the company began marketing a year ago, now makes up about 65 percent of SC&T's business and is the primary product marketed through its sponsorship of Lazzaro.
Copland credits much of his company's growth from $3.7 million in sales in 1995 to projected sales of $7.5 million this year to its involvement with the Atlantic championship and auto racing.
"Motorsports and the racing wheel are a natural fit," said Copland. "For a company that is probably smaller than any one of our competitors, we have to beat them based on technology, functionality and enriched features. We believe in our product, and felt that there was no better way to put your money where your mouth was than to go motor racing."
The KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship is a training ground for future Indy car and Formula One drivers. The 12-race open-wheel series races in the United States and Canada, including 10 events in conjunction with the PPG CART World Series, one with North America's only Formula One race and one with the SCCA Trans-Am Championship.
A Montreal, Que. native, Copland was not unfamiliar with motorsports, before making the decision to go racing last year. He and two friends owned a Formula Atlantic team in Canada from 1976-78. They won the championship each of those years with driver Gilles Villeneuve, who became one of Canada's and Formula One's most prominent drivers before being killed in a racing accident.
Copland left motorsports after 1978. So when he decided to return to motorsports, Copland called Pro-Motion Agency, promoters of the Atlantic series to find out about the series. When he learned that Vicki O'Connor was the president of the series, he knew that he had found the right place to return to racing.
"I met Vicki O'Connor a number of times back when I was racing Formula Atlantic and as soon as I found out she was the head of the Atlantic series I was set," said Copland. "I have tremendous respect for Vicki and I knew right away where I was going to be involved this year. We had some conversations with Vicki and others about the proper driver to back. I wanted a driver that needed a break; one with a fire in his belly"
Copland decided on Lazzaro as his driver. Lazzaro ran 10 of 12 races in 1996 on a shoestring budget; nonetheless, he won in Milwaukee and finished sixth in points. In addition to taking the Platinum Sound team and Per4mer to victory lane in the season-opening race in Homestead, Fla., Lazzaro has also played a role in designing the newest racing wheel.
"We've used Anthony Lazzaro in the design of our latest technology, which is called the Ultimate Per4mer, our brand new product coming out this fall," Copland commented. "He's given us a lot of insight to the feel and the look and the features that should be involved with the product."
While SC&T doesn't have the high dollars it takes to sponsor a team in CART, that hasn't stopped Copland from making the most of his affiliation with the Atlantic series which has seen many of its stars move to the head of the PPG CART field over the years.
"You are there at each race and have the opportunity to meet people in the CART paddock and develop business contacts at a fraction of the cost through the Atlantic series," said Copland. "The racing fraternity is very close, so you meet many people and get to know them well."
The Atlantic affiliation has paid off for Copland and SC&T. Per4mer was recently named the official licensed racing wheel of CART. With the CART affiliation and the Platinum Sound racing team, Copland believes he has the perfect marketing vehicle to drive Per4mer sales to the front of the racing wheel field.
"We believe that our product is that good; we're a racing team and now we've become the official licensed racing wheel product of CART. We think that by putting this complete package together it will lend a great deal of credibility to the consumer looking to buy the best at a very affordable price. Per4mer is also the licensed racing wheel for Mattel Hot Wheels as well, which we are very enthusiastic about."
Will the Platinum Sound team and Copland be satisfied next year with the high profile that is has already established with Atlantic and CART fans and participants? Not a chance.
In 1998, the team is planning to have a traveling interactive center that will go to most of the Atlantics' 12 races. It will feature video games in an interactive environment for the teams, drivers and visitors. It will also feature companies from elsewhere in the computer industry, as well as other KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship sponsors.
Copland hopes that by raising the awareness and interest of participants and fans that it will increase interest in the series which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 1998. "It is important to have the highest possible image not only for the company, but to assist the series so that as more people view the series it will help the series attract more bonafide corporations."
With companies like SC&T and its Platinum Sound racing team, the KOOL/TOYOTA Atlantic Championship couldn't be better as it heads toward its 25th year of competition.
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