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NASCAR taps mobile for gas-saving measures

With the recent gas hikes, consumers are cringing everytime they filll up. Well, with NASCAR's Drive $marter Challenge consumers can relax a bit because they may be able to save hundreds of dollars on fuel.

NASCAR teamed up with the Alliance to Save Energy for the campaign, which will feature care tips on NASCAR's reality television show, "NASCAR Angels." The second aspect of the campaign will focus on providing fuel-efficiency tips to consumers on their mobile phones.

"This is a very exciting campaign where we're using many communications tools and tactics -- including mobile -- to reach out to NASCAR fans and the Hispanic community," said Rozanne Weissman, director of communications and marketing for the non-profit Alliance to Save Energy, Washington, DC. "This is the most we've ever done in the mobile area."

Spanish-speakers can text the keyword GAS to shortcode 52733 to download the ringtone and to opt-in for the weekly gas-saving SMS tips in Spanish.

ASE will give consumers free downloadable ringtones in English and Spanish and weekly fuel-efficiency tips targeting Hispanics on mobile phones.

Myxer is hosting the English ringtones, while the Hispanic Communications Network is running the Spansih-language mobile campaign.

"They've been great to work with," Ms. Weissman said. "We told them we wanted to do that really resonates with the Hispanic community, and they said 'Latinos and Latinas are really into cell phones, it's a good way to reach them."

In addition, the "NASCAR Performance Live" weekly radio show -- Wednesday 7-8 p.m. EST -- which airs in 150 markets nationally and on Sirius Satellite Radio, is featuring humorous Alliance campaign PSAs "Honey I'm Home" and "Baby Talk."

The PSAs provide driving and vehicle maintenance tips and direct radio listeners to the Drive $marter Challenge Web site for more tips to cut gas costs and improve the environment.

"Drivesmarterchallenge.org is the only Web site where an individual driver can go to enter their own vehicle data, the make, model, year and number of cylinders, and get the dollarr amount you could save by taking six specific actions," Ms. Weissman said.

The campaign also features seven podcasts by Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the number 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. They are downloadable from a number of podcast Web sites and will air as PSAs on "NASCAR Performance Live."

NASCAR, which has sponsored other campaigns promoting conservation messages, has become the 19th partner of the Drive $marter Challenge campaign. Partners include diverse nonprofit, governmental and for-profit entities working together to promote fuel-efficient driving and proper vehicle maintenance and encouraging consumers to drive less.

The Drive $marter Challenge Web site features a unique interactive calculator showing drivers immediately how many hundreds of dollars they can save with their specific vehicles by taking six easy driving and maintenance actions.

Individual savings of those who choose to take the challenge (1-6 actions) are calculated in dollars, gallons, and CO2 emissions and added to the home page running total of savings of all who have taken the challenge.

The site also offers extensive money-saving gas tips in English and Spanish, resources, myth busters and vehicle maintenance coupons from AutoZone and ExxonMobil.

Other significant communications and marketing elements of the Drive $marter Challenge campaign include PSA billboards and a targeted outreach to Hispanic media with humorous Spanish-language PSAs, newspaper columns, a "Driving and Saving/Manejando y Ahorrando" song, earned media outreach and podcasts.

"We didn't just take the English PSAs and translated them, we wanted to reach the Hispanic community in a way that's more special and have fun with it," Ms. Weissman said. "The PSA has a play on words in Spanish and we use the 'Manejando y Ahorrando' song through all of our communications and marketing vehicles in a way that makes sense so that everything sticks together in a cohesive campaign targeting the Hispanic community."

The Spanish song can be downloaded in mp3 format onto iPhones, iPods and other mp3 players.

"It's a good strategy for us to try to reach the Hispanic community in ways that work for them," Ms. Weissman said. "The song has a reggaeton beat that's popular with Latino and Latinas."

"It's definitely effective because of the heavy concentration of cell phones in that community, and radio is another very popular way to reach them, so we're driving traffic in a variety of ways," Ms. Weissman said. "You have to use a variety of tools, so we're promoting the ringtones with PSAs on 500 radio stations and in a newspaper column that went out to Hispanic publications.

"We would like to continue the mobile campaign into next year and add English car-care and gas-saving tips via SMS," she said.

The ASE is also distributing Drive $marter tip cards that can be co-branded by partners and others.

The ASE's other efforts include B-roll in every format illustrating some 20 money-saving gas tips from the Drive $marter Challenge campaign, satellite and radio media tours and audio news releases in English and Spanish.

The organization also has a broadband media Web site http://www.dwjtv.com/drivesmarterchallenge/ with downloadable video, audio and image elements of the multimedia campaign.

The ASE also worked with partner ExxonMobil for Fuel Efficiency Day at a Washington Nationals baseball game in June. The ASE ran a booth with 30,000 driving and maintenance tips.

Other partners include the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute, AutoZone, Safety-Kleen, the Wal-Mart Foundation, U.S. EPA's SmartWay U.S. DoE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Car Care Council, the League of American Bicyclists and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"We specialize in putting together diverse partners, nonprofit, governmental and for-profit to reach our fuel efficiency goals and inform people about ways for to cut back on their gas costs and fuel usage," Ms. Weissman said. "With our partners, we're accomplishing much more than we could do on our own."