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Democrats Tell Army: No More NASCAR

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Army's NASCAR sponsorship

Army's NASCAR sponsorship

If you weren't aware (unlikely): the Army sponsors a NASCAR team. The purpose? Recruitment. Getting the Army brand out there, and catching the eyes of the young to hopefully influence their career paths by engaging in a sport they enjoy watching. But Democrats don't like it. At all.

"It’s just a waste of money. A complete waste of taxpayer money. The military shouldn’t be in the business of sponsoring race cars, they should be in the business of fighting wars," said Bill Harper, chief of staff for Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota. Harper says the Army spent $7 million dollars on NASCAR last year, and $11.6 million in 2009. Another $5 million was spent sponsoring drag racing.

This is contrasted with the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, all of which ceased their NASCAR sponsorships five years ago.

The obvious implication of the Democrat attack on NASCAR sponsorship is the political alignment of the majority of its fans: Republican. How, exactly, the whole ball of wax ties into campaigns and seats isn't clear.

One concern that raises itself is that, in order for the Army to do the job Harper says it should--fighting wars--it needs to recruit soldiers. The Army is well aware of this, and regularly talks about itself as a brand. It has social media channels, and sponsors a wide array of other activities beyond motorsport.

Army recruitment goals and NASCAR

In an interview with Forbes.com last year (now accessible only through Google's cache), for instance, Army CMO Bruce Jasurda said, in response to a question on the change in the Army's brand over time, "I think it’s a pretty compelling story to see how this brand has evolved, not just in the last 20 years but particularly in the last 5 years... So if you look at it five years ago it was primarily advertising-centric, and I don’t think we’re a-typical in that regard of other advertisers and marketers in that period. And the consumption of both media and information among our target audiences has changed so much. I think one of the things we’re most proud of is that we’ve been very fluid and very nimble in changing with those consumption habits of our target audiences."

In other words, the Army is actively measuring the effectiveness of its campaigns and outreach on recruiting, pursuing new and innovative routes to reach potential soldiers. And yet it hasn't dropped its rather expensive NASCAR campaign. Perhaps they know what they're doing?

It's also important to note that the Army, combined with the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, recruits about as many soldiers each year as the rest of the Armed Forces and their reserve units combined. Perhaps they require a broader reach and audience?

The economy isn't helping things, either. In 2009, the Army said it exceeded its recruitment goal by about 5 percent. But the target for recruitment had been lowered significantly from 2007-2008 levels, dropping from 80,000 recruits to 65,000. Exceeding the lower goal means the Army actually recruited about 16 percent fewer soldiers.

The Army doesn't talk all that openly about how or why it sets its recruitment targets, but Slate took a look at the matter last year and concluded there are two scenarios that might explain the lower target: Congressional or Department of Defense mandates for a smaller total Army force; or improved retention of existing troops. The Army told Slate it was the latter. But as Slate dug deeper, it found retention goals had been lowered alongside recruitment goals--by about the same amount.

All of this while the Army was ostensibly seeking a larger force, as ordered by the Secretary of Defense. The result? The Army is getting, and keeping, fewer troops than as little as three to four years ago. Perhaps the NASCAR ad spend is an effort to reverse, or at least mitigate, that fact?

We all need to tighten our belts

The whole matter is framed in President Obama's state of the union address, which called for cutbacks and belt-tightening wherever possible. In that light, it makes sense to at least consider taking the Army out of NASCAR. But it might be worth looking at the effects--and attendant costs--saving the $7 million might have elsewhere.

The Democrat attack on NASCAR sponsorship, as political attacks predictably do, lacked any alternative to advertising in NASCAR to meet recruitment necessities. Likewise, it lacked any interest in the impact it might have on the sport to lose a major sponsor. Perhaps it's time to think this one through a little better.

[National Journal, Slate, Forbes]

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Comments (26)
  1. I'm not a fan of Nascar and drag racing, but the democrats should not criticize others for what they are doing very well in a much larger scale. .
     
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  2. This is just like any other cut to the budget. Who ever gets cut is going to not like it. we here in Arkansas may be loosing a federal trout hatchery. The immeditae impact on businesses will be more than 28 million per year in lost revenues when there are no trout for people to come catch. That seems like a lot better cost/benefit ratio to me. So hold on America if the way it all plays out is for spending and taxes to be cut it will be a long hard ride.
     
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  3. These are budget cuts and not "Democrat attack." Republicans "attack" millions of people by trying to cut other true necessities every day. I'm surprised you capitalized the word "President" in all this...
     
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  4. I'm glad they are considering shutting down the Socialism in NASCAR. No more Government advertising funding! The same thing needs to apply to the wasteful fighter plane overflights for sporting events. It costs several hundreds of thousands of wasted US taxpayer $$$ for each fighter plane to needlessly fly over a ball game or race, not to mention the re-routing of air traffic that costs additional resources of time and management. Sporting events here in the US do not need Government Socialism to work.
     
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  5. BRING BACK THE DRAFF AND NO ONE GETS A PASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  6. THIS JUST IN: Army sponsorship stays - Halliburton is picking up the tab. They say this is the least they can do...
     
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  7. jeff must be a democrat that supports illegal aliens and health care. I am glad of the fly over they keep the crew ready to go and show support for the military. This also puts people out of wrk in a time when people need jobs. i have an unemployed nascar person in my family now. Socialism give me a break. go abroad to see real socialism in action. Our goverment has become a popularity contest
     
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  8. If anyone wants to know what a real waste of money is, just look at the politician that are squacking about this. Once they are subject to the laws they pass and have the same pension and insurance the working class has. I frankly can't hear their BS anymore.
     
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  9. I'm really disappointed by this report and the the headline that accompanies it. One congressional member (from a state with no major role in the industry) does not speak for the party, and the tie to the administration's cost cutting efforts does not make this an issue supported by that party. This is an irresponsible report, and I'm surprised that Forbes and NASCAR.com would be a party to such a biases and misleading article.
     
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  10. The amendment prohibiting the military from advertising in NASCAR was defeated. This means the military will continue to be able to support NASCAR if they choose to do so. I wrote my congressman supporting the military for being involved in NASCAR so I hope others did as well.
     
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  11. In reference to "democrats" being anti-army etc... The money saved here could go for programs the Republicans tried to destroy. Like health care for the 9/11 responders.
     
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  12. Look the lady has a point about wasteful spending but if you want to cut motorsports spending you have to do a CBA and only keep the sport with the highest return. I know it is a great recruitment tool. As a guy that has ben to three tracks I can tell you they ALWAYS have a crowd. I have never seen a crowd around a billboard on side of the road. Also, the fly bys are awesome and make me proud of the men and women that protect the American way of life.
     
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  13. Look the lady has a point about wasteful spending but if you want to cut motorsports spending you have to do a CBA and only keep the sport with the highest return. I know it is a great recruitment tool. As a guy that has ben to three tracks I can tell you they ALWAYS have a crowd. I have never seen a crowd around a billboard on side of the road. Also, the fly bys are awesome and make me proud of the men and women that protect the American way of life.
     
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  14. Well how about all the commercials on tv the air force, army, navy and marines do so nascar is wrong but that is not
     
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  15. If you want to cut wasteful spending, How about starting with this war we aren't gonna win! You can't kill an idea. Thats like trying to get rid of everyone who believes in God. Plus, you would be saving the lives of a countless number of soldiers if they were here protecting us while at the same time we could protect them! Bill of Rights, anyone? Anyone?
     
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  16. This is a win-win for the democratic war machine. Since Republicans are the enemy (as opposed to Momar Qadaffi or Achmedinijad) They are smacking their lips at the prospect of depriving their enemies in the fan-ship of Nascar(i.e. Republicans)while at the same time defacing and doing as much damage as possible to the military establishment, ensuring that not only does the U.S. turn a blind eye to all the dictators who are the friends of the democrat(new socialist) party, but also deprives the country of its ability to respond to the threats posed by these inhuman monsters the democrats have gotten into bed with. The more I watch the antics and insane rhetoric of the left in this country and compare it with the rhetoric coming from the most hardline dictitorial regimes on the planet, the more I start to believe the Pivens Chaos theory Glenn Beck espouses.
     
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  17. Be American Buy American When nascar started toyota, that was it for me.You must look to purchase American made goods and products to save this great land.
     
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  18. Mr Harper / Ms McCollum,
    If 7 million dollars is the real issue here, may I suggest you and ALL Congress Persons, along with your staffs/spokespersons begin reporting your income from the Lobbyists and pay the taxes on that income? Hell, just pay your taxes for that matter!
    It is a true shame, but it took Mr Obama close to a year to fill his cabinet positions because he could not find enough Democrats who had paid their taxes to fill those positions. I believe this also holds true for a couple of his Federal Judge choices!
     
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  19. Sponsorships like these are a huge waste of money. The Army has no evidence that the activation and licensing fees it pays for these sponsorships have any impact on bringing anyone in the door for recruitment. If they want to advertise during the events, that's fine and it will a lot more effective, but they can do that without paying the money to have the word 'ARMY' on the side of the car.
     
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  20. Sponsorships like these are a huge waste of money. The Army has no evidence that the activation and licensing fees it pays for these sponsorships have any impact on bringing anyone in the door for recruitment. If they want to advertise during the events, that's fine and it will a lot more effective, but they can do that without paying the money to have the word 'ARMY' on the side of the car.
     
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  21. One Democrat opines that the Nascar sponsorship should end and that's an attack against Republicans?! Here's a news flash: I'm a Democrat who likes Nascar. And, guess what, I'm not the only one.
    Nelson, I suggest that you keep your politics out of your sports writing.
     
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  22. As usual the democrats are always anti business, why support a business that actually employs americans. This money could go to the legal defense say Charles Rangle or someone of that caliber.
     
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  23. I'm appalled by some of the comments on here...almost as much as I am the article itself. No one has attacked anyone. One person does not a party make.
    As for the sponsorship issue, I say let it continue. The Army very likely keeps stats on what advertising is most effective. This obviously works for them.
     
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  24. another twit from minnesota. is there something in the water out there?
     
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  25. And Obama should not have told the NASA Chief that his highest purpose was to make the Muslims feel good about themselves by praising their accomplishments. That is direct violation of the US constitution by failing to seperate Church and State. The left would sue in court if Obama told the NASA head to make Christians feel good about themselves. Obama is leading the war on Christianity as is clearly proven by his speech from Cairo where he repeatedly called the Koran the "Holy" Koran and preached from it. The left would have rioted if he had called the Bible the "Holy" Bible and preached from it. He bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia because that King is the keeper of the holiest places of Islam, Mecca and Medina. Subsequent bows to other world royalty was just to hide his secret Islamic agenda. Army sponsorship of NASCAR is totally secular.
     
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  26. I am a Nascar fan for better or worse. We all need to make the hard decisions and I believe it's time to join the other branches of the military and drop the NASCAR spend.
     
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