Clemson students partner with NASCAR driver


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CLEMSON — Clemson University marketing students are helping NASCAR Nationwide driver Mike Wallace find a sponsor for his car. The students also hope to raise enough money for Clemson to sponsor Wallace’s car for one race.

Wallace will be on campus Saturday, Oct. 6, with an orange and white Clemson show car to promote his partnership with the marketing student team. The car will be parked inside Gate 1 of Memorial Stadium during the Georgia Tech game. Wallace will sign autographs at the car during halftime and after the game. He will also be at a meet-and-greet before the game from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Sirrine Hall courtyard.

As part of this partnership, the Clemson marketing students are developing long-term and short-term marketing plans for Wallace’s No. 01 car, cultivating potential donors, developing sales proposals, meeting potential customers, closing deals and activating the brand. This is a pilot program and, according to Wallace, is the first such program between a university and NASCAR. (Read more here.)

Wallace, who races for JD Motorsports out of Gaffney, doesn’t have a full-year sponsor. The students will be working to attain sponsorship rights for Wallace’s car for both the 2012 and 2013 race seasons.

“I was sitting in this meeting (with Wallace), and it’s everything I have ever wanted to work on, and I kept thinking, ‘We have a long way to go,’ ” Clemson senior Matt Wehman said.

The students’ first step is to raise money to make Wallace’s car a Clemson car — featuring the Tiger Paw and signature orange color — for the season’s final race, the Ford EcoBoost 300. The Nov. 17 race in Homestead, Fla., is part of the Ford Championship Weekend where NASCAR will crown its Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series champions.

“When we get the car in the race, we’re going to get national talk about this project,” Wehman said.

The show car will be in Clemson Saturday to generate buzz and awareness and help get the word out to the Clemson family about what this group of students is doing.

The nine students are part of a Creative Inquiry class — Clemson’s undergraduate research program — and were chosen based on related classes they had taken, their skill sets, whether they had sports or NASCAR-specific interests and proven sales ability.

Marketing department chairwoman Mary Anne Raymond and professor Amanda Cooper Fine are heading up the project. Before she came to Clemson, Fine executed sponsorships for sports teams.

“There is nothing more tangible than this,” Fine said. “They’re seeing the logistics, the time commitment to a huge project. As professors, our role is to direct when needed, get the right approvals and make sure all processes are followed.”

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