NASCAR announced that they had renewed their ad deal with the antichrists themselves, Barstool Sports.
The polarizing media company now valued at nearly $500M will continue its ad partnership with NASCAR in 2020 after a successful campaign run in 2019. Last season Barstool Sports personalities were at 4-5 races as part of this deal and it proved to be rather beneficial for those races.
Perhaps the internets’ most captivating personality Dave Portnoy (pizza review guy) seemingly fell in love with NASCAR. He has struck up a friendship with “redneck” Clint Bowyer, related well to NASCAR fans (fighting AOC), and seemed to genuinely enjoy his experiences at the track.
Portnoy enjoyed NASCAR so much they hopped on Matt DiBenedetto’s car as the primary sponsor for three races last season including the Bristol night race. NASCAR’s ad deal turned into a partial sponsorship for a small team at a time when new sponsors are harder to find than ever. According to Adam Stern Barstool is looking to sponsor a car again this season. Because who doesn’t want to see another pizza livery or the stool and stars?
Armed with legions of devout followers Portnoy was able to help boost Daytona 500 viewership numbers in Barstool’s hometown of Boston last season. His tweets about NASCAR garnered more attention than nearly anything NASCAR’s social accounts did last year.
Barstool’s Internet Reputation Is Unfounded
A number of hit pieces written by various outlets have been posted about Barstool in the last year. They toss around words and phrases like “misogynistic”, “hateful”, and “promoting rape culture.” HBO compared Portnoy to a third world dictator. This has caused a sect of NASCAR fans to lambast the sport for working with Barstool. Sure Portnoy has said some outlandish things but so have people like Howard Stern. Context is everything but when it comes to Barstool that doesn’t seem to matter.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about Barstool is what they are. They’re a reality show, a commentary blog, and podcast network all wrapped into one. They aren’t journalists and have never claim to be. Barstool was built by commenting on what reporters reported, what athletes did, and whatever was happing in pop culture. They’re a satirical comedy website and they’ve said that numerous times, it just appears no one is listening. Some things…
Like any other media company, you like some things, you don’t like other things. It’s a mixed bag and you pick things you want to consume. Just because you like Barstool’s Pardon My Take doesn’t mean you like the ear-piercing voices of their Call Her Daddy podcast and that’s fine. You might like Sportscenter but hate First Take and Max Kellerman’s fake persona on ESPN. Barstool goes against the self-righteous trend of most media outlets (Deadspin) and it might be why they’re so successful.
NASCAR Sides With Barstool
NASCAR views the positives as outweighing the negatives in this deal. And, that’s ok.
The sport desperately needs Barstool’s demographic of 18-35-year-olds with disposable income. Those who spend a large portion of their free time browsing the internet, watching sports, and engaging with them online. While not every Barstool follower is going to become a NASCAR fan it’s never a bad thing to capture as many as you can.
People were questioning the ad deal, asking if it really benefitted the sport. The thing is, where else is NASCAR going to do an ad buy at? With Bleacher Report or The Ringer? They don’t have fan bases and millions of engaged followers. For NASCAR this deal makes sense. And if it raises ratings in the 4 races Portnoy is at its money well spent. If it gets those new fans to tune in next week even better.
Davey Daytona will be at the track in two weeks. Strap in.