Danica Patrick Drives Fans (and Brands) Wild

NASCAR and IndyCar fans haven’t always spoken the same language. According to our data, however, one person is opening doors to both sides – and as a result their brand awareness is getting closer together: Danica Patrick.

May marked the midway point of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season and IndyCar ran its marquee event, the Indianapolis 500. With those events driving higher interest, the most logical place to quantify what this means is by interpreting behavior across the leading search engines. To measure that for NASCAR fans, we evaluated search activity among those in our “NASCAR Enthusiast” behavioral category for May.

The Indianapolis 500 grabbed a significant amount of NASCAR fans’ attention in May. Our hunch was that Danica Patrick had something to do with this, and we imagine her sponsors hope she did as well. That’s also important because if/when she moves to NASCAR full-time in 2012, her sponsors may move with would be smart to move with her.

To see whether fan interest in the Indy 500 and Danica are correlated, we had to look no further than Bleacher Report, a rising leader in the sports news category, which we wrote about in April. Compete data show that “Danica Patrick” was among the top five keywords – and the top individual athlete – driving traffic to BleacherReport.com in May. It would seem that Danica’s star shines brightly with more than just hardcore Indy or NASCAR fans. That’s probably why the site dedicates an entire sub-page to her.

Kellogg’s, one of Danica’s major sponsors, is certainly banking on her universal appeal. And our data suggest they were rewarded. The chart below shows a significant spike on the Kellogg’s site on May 27th, the day of the Indy 500.

In fact, Kellogg’s garnered significant attention the day before the race as well. As NASCAR fans crossed over to IndyCar in May, it seems they may have brought their brand awareness with them. Clearly Danica can drive…traffic to brands that is.

Logical next steps include investigating the following:
• To what extent does the lift in Kelloggs.com or the sites of other sponsors coincident with racing events lead to customers that continue to engage after the race?
• Are those engagers more likely to purchase the sponsors’ products and services?
• Does Danica attract a greater share of female race fans, as compared to her male counterparts? If so, does this create a set of unique marketing opportunities?

About Aaron Smolick:
Aaron Smolick is the Senior Director of Marketing at Compete. Aaron spends his time at Compete building brand awareness and lead generations while managing the PR, the Kantar relationship and the day-to-day marketing efforts--he greases the wheels and connects the dots. Before Aaron joined the Compete team he ran the US division of the Samsung gaming division. He hopes to eventually climb the corporate ladder where the dots become larger.