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Ignition Productions

Motorsport, TV and Sponsorship – part 3

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Welcome to part 3 of my interview with Nathan Prendergast of Ignition Productions.

In part 2 of the interview we covered:

  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities
  • The importance of creating a personal brand
  • Forget the camera and be natural

Provide value and don’t overrate your worth

Kym: What common mistakes do you see sponsorship seekers make?

Nathan: I would be guessing. But I would think that overrating their worth would be one of them. People can be a little bit arrogant about the way they approach things. Again, potentially, depending on who’s evaluating their worth.

Kym: Does that come back to how you value a sponsorship? It’s not about cost. It doesn’t matter what you think you’re worth. It’s actually about how much value you can return to the sponsor?

Nathan: Correct. The other thing that would be important is not researching enough about the sponsor, not being able to clearly explain to them how they can service the sponsor. Again, it comes back to no one’s going to give you money unless they can see a way of making money out of you. Unless it’s a friend, unless it’s a multi-millionaire that likes you, they’re expecting some form of exposure, a way of making money out of you. You’ve got to research your sponsor and your sport – we fit this demographic, we have this many viewers, we have this many people attend our race meetings. They’re going to ask you these things.

Kym: What’s your take on media monitoring? Is it really important to include this type of information in your sponsorship proposals?

Nathan: I think it’s extremely important. I don’t know how you can go to a sponsor without those figures. You should be able to get ratings figures, you should be able to get total audience numbers, you should be able to get demographics. Those figures exist. That’s the problem with our sport. They should be available to everyone.

Kym: Given your area of expertise, how much does television exposure contribute to the value of a sponsorship? Could you give us a percentage?

Nathan: It’s really dependent on what you’re actually asking from a sponsor and what sort of level. At the higher end I think it’s vital. I would say that television exposure would be the number one priority. I can’t put a percentage on it, but it’d be the number priority to a major sponsor; where I’m being seen, how often am I being seen and by how many people.

You’ve go to be creative and think outside the square

Kym: Let’s say you’re not at the top end of the sport. How can your potentially create television or media opportunities for a smaller scale operation?

Nathan: Well, it’s really tricky in drag racing because it’s so diverse. It’s a little bit easier in lower forms of support categories like V8 Utes and GT’s, because they are fairly well funded entities with only a maximum of twenty-eight people to service. You might have super sedan that’ll have ninety cars at one event. It’s really difficult to generate some form of television exposure for those lower level categories. It’s really a matter of coming up with some form of gimmick, some form of local media, local print media, your local newspaper and engaging the grassroots people.

Say, for example, if I had a junior dragster and I put an eight-year-old in the driver’s seat and I live in the inner west of Sydney, I’d be finding out what the local paper is. I’d be going to my son’s school and working out how a community based program with the junior dragster can teach the kids about road safety. It’s about thinking outside the square on what people will actually be interested in what you do and how you can get them on board, because I’m sorry, and group 3 and 4 racers will hate this, and even group 2, but the main networks are not interested.

First of all they don’t understand it. Like what’s an index? What’s a dial-in? Why does a dragster run against an altered? Why has that sedan car got a blower? It’s just too complex. It’s great for us drag racers. We love it. We understand it. We’ve grown up with it. Don’t try to appeal to them as a racer. Don’t try to appeal to them, “Oh, this is a fantastic motorsport” because it might be, but they don’t get it. Try to engage them on another level. You just need to be creative.

Network…network…network

Nathan: Here’s an example of being creative. Warren Smith, Super Gas racer. Warren won the nationals in Super Gas.

Warren’s dad Ian Smith worked at Channel 7 for twenty-five years. Warren is also one of my guys in the OB truck for V8 Supercar rounds. Gerald McDornan who’s the PR guy for Holden and a former drag racing commentator got creative and wrote all these articles and sent them out around the world, and created content that people published and then, because he knew I had the footage, rang me and said, “Can you get this in the telecast?” I got him to speak to Simon Fordham, the producer, and we ran a snippet going to the break and Matthew White said congratulations to our longtime V8 TV crew guy, Warren Smith, on winning the drag racing nationals and we ran the pass. They got all this exposure and everyone saw it. It was fantastic, just by thinking outside the square.

Kym: Networking and creating connections are very important then?

Nathan: Yes. Networking is key. It’s not what you know. It’s who you know, and that comes down to even getting in the door with some sponsors. Always put yourself out there. Always engage, always be friendly. You never know who you’re going to meet. You never know where they might end up, so always conduct yourself professionally.

Kym: Excellent. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and sharing your experience.

Nathan: My pleasure.

Read part 1 and part 2 of my interview with Nathan Prendergast.

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