Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick have been playing a virtual media tug-o-war the past few months.
Johnson has dominated the media pages for his NASCAR driving abilities and Patrick for her ability to drive in NASCAR.
Hundreds and hundreds of questions have been posed to Patrick, and for the most part, she has answered most of them by not really answering them.
One well known NASCAR journalist described it best by saying this: “She held a press conference at JR Motorsports and we don’t know much more now than we did before.”
Patrick seems to be better at the tease than she is driving a race car. Her scantily clad magazine layouts are not much different than her year-long entrance into NASCAR.
Just as she keeps the 51 percent demographic of NASCAR fans interested by showing some skin, but never all the skin, she keeps the media interested by never completely answering the questions or divulging her full intentions.
If Danica Patrick intends to infiltrate the ranks of NASCAR and build loyal fans, then she must start by actually answering some tough questions.
Let's get started.
In the world of marketing, longevity and continued success can be achieved by the ability to reinvent your self. Madonna, Michael Jordan, Elizabeth Taylor and a host of other superstars have enjoyed years of marketing success by re-inventing their persona every few years. This ability allows things to be kept fresh in the public’s eye.
Patrick is now entering her sixth year in the IRL, and in that series, she has been most popular driver four times in the past five years. Statistically though, she is just as anorexic as this year’s most popular driver in NASCAR.
5) Is the jump to NASCAR an opportunity to re-invent your self?
Professional tennis player Anna Kournikova also posed in magazines and enjoyed marketing success. She did not however have success on the tennis court.
Patrick had limited, but slightly above average success in the IRL. Success in one series does not make her a success in another.
4) Are you concerned being unsuccessful in the Nationwide Series will hurt your marketability?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been NASCAR’s most popular driver for seven years in a row. He also has the most loyal following of fans in NASCAR, aptly named Jr. Nation.
Patrick's contract with JR Motorsports is for two years, and at the same time she has a three year agreement in the IRL with Andretti Autosport.
It’s tough to serve two masters, but, if she finds success in the Nationwide series, will she remain with JR Motorsports for the third and final year of her AA contract, or is it possible she is using JR Motorsports as a personal spring board to the Cup series.
3) I ask you Danica, do you already have a Sprint Cup ride lined up?
It has been announced that Danica has a new perfume line coming out. Release date is said to be scheduled for March, 2010, but rumors are she is actually releasing it to the public during the ARCA race at Daytona in February.
There are magazines with half naked pictures of Patrick for the men and now perfume for the women. Exactly which demographic of NASCAR is she trying to capture?
2) Are you attempting to take over the complete fan base in NASCAR?
It has been said Danica Patrick is good at marketing Danica Patrick.
As soon as it was announced she was signing with JR Motorsports, there were t-shirts, caps and a host of other souvenirs available immediately.
Patrick is racing in two completely different series, modeling, magazine layouts, commercials, spokesperson for GoDaddy.com, has her own souvenir trailer, and is now launching a new perfume.
It’s very easy to see that this whole campaign is more about marketing and is certainly all about Danica Patrick. Fittingly, it’s the IRL and NASCAR making it all possible.
The most important question is the final question.
1) Is your ultimate goal to be a race car driver, or drive a race car?
Photo Credit: David Yeazell