"Speed kills” may be an old anti-drug slogan and a motto for football teams, but the National Pork Board might argue that speed sells. At least sponsoring a speedy stock car helps sell more pork.

This is the second year that NPB has sponsored the Advanced Auto Parts/Pork: The Other White Meat car on the Automobile Racing Club of America stock car series. The relationship began when Larry Clement, the car’s owner, contacted pork officials in 1999. He wanted to help pork producers who were facing record-low hog prices at the time.

Clement, who grew up on an Iowa farm and whose family owns the Featherlite trailer company, offered NPB a free, trial sponsorship to promote pork during that rough period – and to show the value that can come from sponsoring a car. Clement was able to convince his primary sponsor, Advance Auto Parts to agree to a joint deal with the pork industry. After that first season, NPB signed on to continue sponsoring the car.

Stock car mania has been sweeping America, but NPB is doing more than just jumping on the bandwagon with its sponsorship. The decision to sponsor the car is part of a widespread marketing plan. ARCA keeps detailed records of the exposure that a sponsorship provides.

So far this year, Pork: The Other White Meat campaign has received 3 hours and 40 seconds of track exposure through the sponsorship, second among team sponsors on the ARCA tour only to Advance Auto Parts. Pork has received 91 sponsor mentions this year. The exposure pork has received from the sponsorship has been valued at $410,580 by the ARCA RE/MAX Series Sponso Report. Last year, Pork received nearly $540,000 in coverage from the race promotions, says Clement.

The report was issued after 22 races with three more remaining in the 2001 season. The promotional value comes from sponsor mentions before, during and after the race. It also comes from vehicle identity in view of both a track camera and the in-car camera. Hood identity, the driver’s uniform and verbal references round out the ways pork receives value from each race.

Success breeds recognition, so it is no surprise that pork has been getting its money’s worth. Frank Kimmel, driver of the pork car, is wrapping up his third straight ARCA points championship this season. Kimmel leads the ARCA tour in most categories and has been near the front in many of the races. This leads to race announcers and TV cameras spending a lot of time focusing on the pork car, which in turn icreases the sponsorship’s value. In addition, Clement is a strong marketer who finds ways to get his sponsor the most coverage possible, says Dallas Hockman, NPB’s vice president of demand enhancement.

NPB holds several promotions around each ARCA race to capitalize on the exposure Kimmel and the race team give pork. NPB representatives have given away barbecued pork loin sandwiches to pit crews, ARCA officials and fans in the infield prior to each race. Hockman says that these activities increase awareness of pork among the ARCA circuit and also allow pork producers the opportunity to see how the race-related promotions work and take some ownership of such promotions.

In addition, a show car is displayed at retailers and foodservice providers across the country in promotional activities that feature informational literature, pork product specials or free barbecue pork samples. The car on display draws in consumers that otherwise might not pay attention to pork promotional events.

But there’s more to a successful promotion than just getting your message to the audience. If that message has no effect on the audience, what good did it do? That’s not a problem with auto racing fans, however.

A recent study by Washburn University and Elon College researchers examined the recall and recognition of, and attitudes toward, brands seen during a television clip of a NASCAR race. The study revealed that subjects could recall brands that appeared prominently on racecars significantly better than they could recall brands that were in a 30-second advertisement. Average exposure time featured on the cars was 30.4 seconds per brand.

The study further showed that attitudes toward brands appearing on the cars were higher for those who watched the video than for those in the control group, but only for subjects with high familiarity, knowledge and interest in auto racing.

“Race fans are very brand loyal,” says Hockman. “They pay attention to names on the cars and if possible, those are the brands they spend their money on those brands.” Apparently, the race promotions are working. About 14 million more incremental pounds of pork have been moved this year due to race promotions, says Clement. To put that into perspective, he points out that kind of increase would be the equivalent of 56 million people increasing their pork consumption by 1 serving.

Hockman says NPB has worked with Clement to become a co-sponsor of the car, at a discounted rate. While Hockman was not specific on the dollar amount, he did say it was divided among several areas of the NPB budget, including retail and foodservice areas.

Pork demand has risen greatly over the past several years and many promotional events, like the Pork: The Other White Meat campaign, have played a part in that. Sponsorship of a racecar may or may not be a long-term staple of future pork promotions, but it sure does take the term “moving pork fast” to a whole different level.