Turner Now Backs Charter’s Car


Charter Communications Inc. has brought in a programming partner to help sponsor its NASCAR team, selling signage on the Charter Racing Ford Taurus to Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

A small Cartoon Network logo adorned the car driven by Charter’s Greg Biffle Sept. 4 at the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s Busch Series Target House 300 at the California Speedway, which Biffle won.

Turner’s CNN Headline News was set to get primary sponsor placement on Biffle’s car last Friday at a race in Richmond, Va.

The Turner sponsorship agreement, crafted by Turner Network Sales, is unusual. The company has never sponsored a race car, and most consumer marketing efforts are usually driven by individual Turner networks, such as Cable News Network or TNT.

“Earlier this year Charter suggested the idea to us. We did a little bit of research, and it didn’t take much selling on their part,” said Turner Network Sales vice president of strategic marketing Jennifer Mirgorod, who noted the loyalty of NASCAR fans to the brands that adorn their favorite drivers’ cars.

“With our association [in 10 races], we can reach out to those folks with multiple Turner brands,” she added.

In other upcoming races, Turner plans to use the car to tout its “America Votes 2004” election coverage on CNN.

This is the first year Charter has sponsored Biffle’s No. 60 car, owned by Roush Racing.

Vice president of sales and retail distribution John Maurer last week estimated Charter has received more than $16 million in media exposure from Charter logos on Biffle, his car and the number of times Charter gets mentioned on the air, during races and in interviews.

“It’s been tremendous. We’ve had a very positive experience this year, both internally and externally,” Maurer said.

About 25% of Charter employees belong to an internal Biffle fan club, he added.

After winning the Target House 300 on Sept. 4, Biffle told TV viewers, “I’m just excited for Charter. This is a big area for them — Charter high-speed Internet, Charter cable. And they’ve been great supporters of our program.”

Biffle has won five Busch Series races this season.

Charter brings a trailer containing demos of HDTV, interactive TV, high-speed Internet and video on demand to tracks in Charter markets, hoping to sign up new customers and upsell others. It also uses races and access to prime seating near the pit crews as a way to woo local advertisers.

Maurer said Charter has not yet decided whether it will sponsor Biffle’s race team next year.