Stewart-Haas Racing sponsor press conference, part 1

Stewart-Haas Racing Press Conference to Announce 2009 Sponsors July 25, 2008 - Indianapolis, Indiana An interview with: TONY STEWART: Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion GEORGE HILL: Senior Vice President, Office Depot JIM ...

Stewart-Haas Racing Press Conference to Announce 2009 Sponsors
July 25, 2008 - Indianapolis, Indiana

An interview with:
TONY STEWART: Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion
GEORGE HILL: Senior Vice President, Office Depot
JIM O'CONNELL: Vice President of Corporate Marketing, NASCAR
TERRY DOLAN: Terry Dolan, Manager of Chevy Racing
ALEX KEITH: Procter and Gamble Beauty, General Manager, North America Deodorants
MIKE ARNING: Moderator, Vice President of True Speed Communication

MIKE ARNING: "Thank you for attending this morning's announcement. Seated here on the dais is Jim O'Connell, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, NASCAR. Alex Keith of Proctor& Gamble Beauty, General Manager, North America Deodorants. Tony Stewart, the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. George Hill, Senior Vice President of Office Depot, and Terry Dolan, manager of Chevy Racing. I'd like to reintroduce Tony. You've assemble quite a big lineup this morning. Indianapolis has been home to some pretty big days for you, but you haven't even turned a wheel on the race track yet and today is already a big day. Tell us why we're here."

TONY STEWART: "Obviously it's something we have been excited about. Obviously the merger with Stewart-Haas coming so quickly and to be able to go from Chicago to come here two weeks and do what we're doing here today announcing Office Depot and Old Spice and Chevrolet are going to be with us next year. It's something we're all excited about. I never would have dreamed that it would have moved this fast from a couple of weeks ago at Chicago. But I'm very excited and very happy.

"Obviously Old Spice we've been with us for 10 years, and Office Depot is new to us, but we already feel like they're family with the short amount of time we've worked with them. We're all really excited. We've already been joking around. We've got a can that we're already having to put $10 in when I say 'Home Depot' versus 'Office Depot.' We're trying to figure out who will fill it up first. But we're going to have a lot of fun with this.

"We're really excited, obviously, to have this phase of the program done so early. Since we've announced all this, it's let us get ready -- obviously these are three major components allowing us to be successful next year. So now that we are having the opportunity to be here today and let all you guys know about this, it's going to help us get a head start toward next year already."

MIKE ARNING: "Well said. I'd like to introduce George Hill, Senior Vice President of Office Depot. 2009 will mark your fifth year as a NASCAR sponsor, and you're kicking it off in impressive fashion with Tony. With him being driver and a business owner next year, it's a partnership that seems to make a lot of sense for the Office Depot brand."

GEORGE HILL: "No question. We're so thrilled at Office Depot and on behalf of the 49,000 associates we have worldwide, to be with you, Tony. We have never been this excited. I'm thrilled. I had to arm wrestle somebody to actually make the flight up here today to be up on stage with you, so we're just nuts about it. If you think about Office Depot and the brand of Office Depot, it is about small business and frankly you're starting out a new small business. That's exactly what you've done and you've proven how successful you have been with Tony Stewart Racing in the past as an entrepreneur, and we're just absolutely thrilled to be a part of this family."

MIKE ARNING: "I'd like to reintroduce Alex Keith of Proctor and Gamble. You've been associated with Tony since 2000 and this announcement is a major extension of that relationship. What has Tony's partnership with Old Spice done for the Old Spice brand?"

ALEX KEITH: "We started partnering with Tony one year after he started with NASCAR and that was really for us about three things: broadening our consumer base, becoming more relevant to young guys and to exhibit our passion for winning.

"As Tony's success and popularity grew, our relationship with him deepened. I think you've seen some examples of that in the Tony Stewart Old Spice limited edition products that we sell. The creative use of Tony Stewart's arm pits in our television advertising you might have seen and our partnership with the Tony Stewart Foundation, the Victory Junction Gang Camp and Give Kids the World.

"While we have a number of successful programs that drive our Old Spice brand, we certainly believe that the partnership we have with Tony is an integral part of making us the number one male deodorant and body wash brand. This is a natural next step for us in this partnership. Old Spice has always been about making guys look great and smell great and we certainly think Tony looks best in a red car."

MIKE ARNING: "I'd like to now reintroduce Jim O'Connell, Vice President of Corporate Marketing with NASCAR. Jim, this is a nice platform to share some news on the NASCAR front -- renewal of Office Depot's official status with NASCAR. Tell us about that."

JIM O'CONNELL: "It's great to be a part of this. And it's my great pleasure to announce Office Depot and NASCAR have extended our partnership. It's a partnership that started in 2005 and has yielded wonderful dividends for all involved. Office Depot does a wonderful job reaching out to our NASCAR fans, many of whom are small business owners. It's obviously right up their alley. I thank them for their partnership and looking forward to great things coming in the future. We'll eagerly watch as Tony goes on and off the track and thank you for letting us be a part of this today. Great fun."

MIKE ARNING: "A familiar face to Tony Stewart and a lot of the grassroots racing that Tony is a part of is Terry Dolan, manager of Chevy Racing. General Motors has a long relationship with Tony dating back to when he first came to NASCAR back in 1996 and it deepened when the Chevrolet brand became not just a sponsor, but began powering his USAC and World of Outlaws teams. As a driver he plays a pivotal role, and certainly more so next year."

TERRY DOLAN: "That's exactly right. Over time we've had a robust relationship with Tony and it's truly an honor and privilege to be here today to be part of the celebration of welcoming Tony back. We've enjoyed many victories with Tony's efforts that date back to his winning the 1997 Indy Racing League championship. He drove a Pontiac to the 2002 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He did it again in 2005, driving for Team Chevy, and winning his second championship. Then last year, as a team owner, he took his national Sprint Car Series team to the championship powered by Chevrolet. Now, we're looking forward to future championships with Tony in his new role as a driver and team owner with Stewart-Haas."

MIKE ARNING: "And we'll go ahead and open it up for questions."

Q: Tony, will you be driving one or the other -- an Old Spice car or Office Depot car? Will one will be for your teammate or will it be co-sponsorship on the cars?

TONY STEWART: "It's actually a split. 60 percent in Office Depot and 40 percent in an Old Spice car."

Q: George, as you know it takes a number of years to develop brand equity. What are some of the factors you considered in changing teams and drivers?

GEORGE HILL: "Well, we spent a lot of time. We got in NASCAR in 2007 and I think we've done a pretty good job building brand equity with Roush-Fenway and Carl Edwards. And we think Tony, you're going to take us, honestly to a new level. We really know that Tony is a champion. A proven winner. He's a small business owner. We take care of small business. That's what we do. We're all about taking care of business and we're looking forward to you taking care of business on the track and us taking business to all our customers. We think it's a beautiful, natural fit for us."

Q: Tony, could you just talk about getting back with Chevy and how important that was to you?

TONY STEWART: "It's very important, obviously. With what Chevrolet has brought to us and helped us with our open wheel programs, both in USAC and in the World of Outlaws, this just made it a natural fit that everything I drive will be behind the banner of the Chevy bowtie. So it's like George just mentioned, this just all made sense. And I've always had a great relationship with everybody at GM and since we started in the Chevy brand, we've built a lot of close relationships with that brand. So we've always felt like we were part of their family.

"And obviously being with a different program this year, it has been pretty tough on that relationship. It's great. It feels like a homecoming to come back with the Chevy brand and to be with people I know I need to be with."

Q: Terry, getting Tony back in a Chevy, how hard did you lobby? What part did Chevy play in pulling this all together behind the scenes? What did Chevy do to get Tony back into a Chevrolet?

TERRY DOLAN: "Well, there's no question that there was a lot of internal work that's been put together to make this day materialize. If you look at our history with marketing programs, we've had the opportunity to run in the NASCAR space. We've had some of our greatest performances when we've used Tony as a spokesperson and an ambassador for our brand to help us sell our cars and trucks to consumers.

"So being able to demonstrate that to the GM leadership and the value that he brings as an ambassador helped us close the deal on what we felt could be a game-changer program for 2009 for us."

Q: Tony, you mentioned this came together very quickly. Does that give you a peace of mind so you can just go about your business? How much did it weigh in your mind to get it done in this kind of time frame?

TONY STEWART: "None of us expected or even thought it would be even feasible this could happen this fast once we made the announcement. But it's a great weight lifted off our shoulders. Obviously now I can -- not that after today we don't worry about Office Depot and Old Spice and worry about the second car -- but it allows us to shift our focus. And when you run a two-car program, you have to look out for both of those cars. So this was something that having the security today, I'm sure tonight will be the best sleep I've had all year.

"Two weeks ago it was the second best sleep I've had all year. So tonight just knowing that, knowing who my partners are going to be for next year, knowing who I'm going to represent and the relationships that I've had with two of these three companies already, that in itself and the fun we've had with Office Depot already gives you that comfort of knowing that you can start worrying about the things to move forward."

Q: Tony, you made great pains during the teleconference this week to say that sponsors would rather be more involved with a driver not necessarily looking to get wins all the time. Are you trying to lower expectations right now given it's a new team, given your talents and abilities. Are you trying to lower expectations right now?

TONY STEWART: "Trust me I have every expectation to go out and win races. If I didn't feel like that, I wouldn't have made this decision two weeks ago to make this change. But, trust me, I guess maybe I didn't fully explain it as much as I was thinking. They want to win races as bad as I do. Obviously when it comes to the marketing side of it, I don't think the wins are as important as what we do on the marketing side. I'm not either one of the two companies so you might want to ask Alex or George here, but they can tell you how important it is to them.

"But obviously that's why we're all here. We all want to win races and win championships and we all want to do it together and obviously you get the most exposure when you're sitting there in victory lane. That's what our expectations are.

"I can't believe you would insinuate I would set the bar lower because of that. I expect to win. When is it going to happen with this new team? I don't know. But I can promise you, we expect to go out at Daytona and have just as good a shot as anybody else out there."

Q: Having two sponsors like this, is that a reality of the economy today where in the past people would just have one primary sponsor the entire season? It works for Dale Earnhardt Jr. How long into the process did you realize that you wanted to go with two sponsors?

TONY STEWART: "I think everybody is realistic knowing what the economic situation is right now. It's hard to go out when the times are tough here and expect sponsors to write $25million checks and support race teams. And if it works out better that you can accomplish the same thing in a budget that works for two major corporations that are willing to work with each other, it makes it better for everybody all around, I feel.

"Obviously I'm not an owner of a major corporation. But it just seems like it made sense and I think the example that Rick Hendrick and Dale, Jr. did with Dale's car led us to this idea. And once we've pitched this idea to both of these companies, it was something that they felt like made a lot of sense.

"So I think it takes a lot of pressure off of these major corporations to have to sit and try to foot the bill for an entire car, when you can be creative and do something like what we're doing here with two major brands and being able to switch it back and forth. But still they have that brand identification each week no matter whether they're the primary or the secondary sponsor on the car."

Q: Tony, with the partnership with Haas Automation, what kind of comfort level or safety net does that give you as you search for sponsorship for the second team?

TONY STEWART: "Obviously Haas has been a sponsor for both cars each year since the team has been in operations. So it is somewhat a safety net. But at the same time I feel like part of my responsibility as a car owner in this is to do what I can to help the Has Automation company not have to go outside their comfort level of budget also. And if we can help do that by bringing partners in, then that just helps us be able to utilize that better for our resources."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Carl Edwards
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing