NASCAR: 10 Worst Driver Product Placements in History
In the history of the sport—especially in the past 10 years, where sponsors have more pull than ever—NASCAR has seen its fair share of great product placement. Few picture Richard Petty without STP, Dale Earnhardt without GM Goodwrench and Jeff Gordon without Du Pont or Pepsi.
However, there's been plenty of poor product placement as well, hindsight 20/20. Few can forget the flap caused when Jimmie Johnson—sponsored by Gatorade—would repeatedly knock Powerade bottles off his car in Victory Lane, something that ended when the five-time Sprint Cup champion started receiving fines.
Without further ado, here are the 10 Worst Driver Product Placements in NASCAR History.
Kevin Harvick, "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," 2002
For the 20th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's iconic film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Universal Studios re-released the film to theaters and launched a massive marketing campaign, including sponsoring a NASCAR ride.
There were many great drivers at the time who would do a great job at promoting the film. For some reason, Universal decided to hook up with Richard Childress Racing and young firebrand Kevin Harvick.
E.T. sponsored Harvick on that fateful March 2002 weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway when "Happy" showed an impressive display of anger.
Joey Logano, Home Depot, 2009-Present
I'm sure The Home Depot really thought Logano would be a great choice to endorse their national chain of hardware superstores back in 2009, after the youngster replaced Tony Stewart behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota.
However, it just sort of seems awkward. How many 21-year-olds do you see hauling home improvement tools around?
His Nationwide Series sponsor, GameStop, is a much better fit for his demographic.
Kurt Busch, Sharpie/Rubbermaid, 2002-2005
I'm sure Newell Rubbermaid—the parent company of such brands as Sharpie, Rubbermaid, Irwin Industrial Tools and Little Tikes—didn't completely know what they were getting into when they joined the No. 97 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Kurt Busch in the middle of the 2001 season.
As it turns out, Little Tikes would be a perfect sponsor for who would be considered one of the more immature drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Matt Kenseth, Affliction Clothing, 2011
Here's a perfect sponsor combo: one of the most mild-mannered, quiet drivers in the sport and a clothing company known for loud designs and sponsoring mixed martial artists.
Eh, not really.
Jeremy Mayfield, Muppet Show, 2002
Much in the vein of Harvick's E.T. sponsorship, NASCAR teams honored The Muppet Show by running special paint schemes in the July 2002 Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Most of the paint schemes were well-executed—Dale Jarrett ran a paint scheme featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy (who did UPS commercials at the time) and Casey Atwood's No.7 Sirius Satelite Radio Dodge featured Rowlf. (Sirius's logo was/still is a dog.)
Unfortunately, Jeremy Mayfield's car featured scientist Benson Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker.
Various Drivers, Coca-Cola C2, 2004
There's a reason why you don't see a smattering of cars carrying the Coke Zero colors these days, while Jeff Gordon gets to run a Pepsi Max Chevy for a few races each season.
At the July 2004 Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway—then known as the Pepsi 400—Coca-Cola decided to "counter-sponsor" the event by having virtually every driver sponsored by the company run a horribly bland paint scheme promoting C2, a new cola with reduced sugar.
Pepsi had their own brand of less-sugar soda called Edge at the time, but chose not to run any special paint schemes promoting it.
Who won the race?
None of the eight drivers running the C2 scheme, but Jeff Gordon—in the Pepsi Chevrolet.
And that was that.
Kyle Petty, WCW/nWo, 1996-1997
I'm not making this one up, I swear. This is 100 percent legitimate.
In the mid-1990s, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), bankrolled by Ted Turner, had reached its peak popularity with a storyline involving the formation of a stable of villains known as the New World Order (nWo).
WCW decided to sell this storyline via its sponsorship of a car in the Nationwide Series, having Kyle Petty drive a car for Dan Shaver Racing with the iconic black and white of the NWO. In effect, Kyle Petty had become a wrestling character.
Kyle Petty eventually left the team, but not before he was "scared off" by Steve Grissom in a wrestling storyline.
Once again, this is all 100 percent serious.
Mark Martin, Viagra, 2001-05
This sort of goes without saying.
Viagra sponsoring one of the older drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit. Yikes.
Bill Elliott/Matt Kenseth, McDonald's, 1998
Look at this unfortunate eyesore of a paint scheme which adorned the No. 94 McDonald's Ford in a 1998 race at Dover International Speedway.
"Awesome Bill" never drove this car when it debuted, due to his father's funeral. Instead, he surrendered the seat to a young Wisconsin native named Matt Kenseth.
Various Drivers, Chevy, 2007
In an attempt to honor the 50th anniversary of the iconic '57 Chevy, General Motors decided that all teams running under the bowtie in the Sprint Cup Series would replace their normal Monte Carlo SS decals with those of the retro look in the August 2007 race at Michigan International Speedway..
Great idea? Definitely. Horrible execution? Even more so. Most cars looked very awkward with a side decal replacing where the primary sponsor would go, and the mix of retro decals and modern sponsors (for the most part, as Interstate Batteries ran a retro look on Bobby Labonte's machine) just didn't match up.
Thoughts? Comment below.