The past few months have seen Walmart leverage its 50th anniversary with a wide range of tactics, but one of the company’s most visible actions may occur this weekend.
On Friday, long-time race car driver Bill Elliott will attempt to qualify for Saturday Night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway behind the wheel of the number 50 Walmart Chevrolet. Walmart is no stranger to NASCAR, but the company has never embraced car sponsorship the same way as Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s or Bass Pro Shops. Those retailers are fixtures on the NASCAR’s championship Sprint Cup circuit, but Walmart has always shunned direct sponsorship of the sport, choosing instead to engage merchandising activities that coincided with races.
That all changed this year as the company sought ways to leverage its 50th anniversary with core customers. If all goes well for Elliott in qualifying, the distinctive Walmart car with it 50th anniversary logo will rip around the 2.5 mile Daytona traffic with the rest of the field under the lights on Saturday night.
If things don’t go well for Elliott, the sponsorship effort won’t have been in vain. Walmart will have gotten a taste of the potential benefits of a deeper involvement in motorsports while also leveraging the affiliation with Elliott to drive sales at Daytona area stores. Throughout the week leading up to the race Walmart hosted driver appearances and fan events that included show cars and racing simulators.
“Walmart is the champion of the racing fan, and we are committed to providing customers with savings on authentic merchandise, as well as unique race time experiences,” said Walmart’s Daytona area market manager Corbin Norman. “We want to give fans affordability and accessibility, so they can enjoy race time with their families and friends.”