As 16 drivers compete for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship across a 10-week span, which began September 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the NBC Sports marketing team has captured the intensity and emotion that goes into chasing a championship with five different television spots put to NF’s song “Destiny.”
The consumer engagement team, led by Senior Vice President of Brand and Content Services Joseph Lee and Creative Director Don Simon, picked five drivers to feature in the spots. The “Big 3” — former champions Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., along with Chase Elliott and the always engaging Clint Bowyer — are featured in the campaign spots.
The candid commercials where the drivers speak their minds are set to “Destiny” with the lyric, “I’m just fulfilling my destiny” featured throughout the spots.
“Storytelling is the most important thing for NBC Sports,” said Lee. “We want our fans to feel connected to the drivers. It’s important to get the drivers personalities across to the public. The ‘Big Three’ are all very different, and we try to convey that to our audience.”
While the 26-week regular season features intense racing, there’s no doubt that the playoffs, which began last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, bring a whole new level of intensity. There’s a lot less give and take as drivers try to put themselves in the best position to hoist the MENCS championship trophy after the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“There’s no doubt that when the playoffs start, it’s a different season, and the intensity goes through the roof,” said Lee. “What better way to represent the intensity than to hear that from the drivers? In one of the spots, Kevin Harvick says, ‘We want to put our foot on your throat.’ There’s not a lot of athletes with that intensity. (Kyle) Busch makes no bones about what he’s trying to accomplish. All of them speak to the intensity that the playoffs have.”
As for why the NBC Sports team picked the current drivers, the “Big Three” were selected because they’ve been dominant over the course of the 2018 season. Chase Elliott is a story the team wanted to tell because of his popularity. In his first two seasons in the Xfinity Series, Elliott took home the Most Popular Driver award, something that his father — affectionately known as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” — did 16 times.
The fifth spot belongs to Clint Bowyer. Viewers will see the spot featuring the Emporia, Kansas native and instantly know why Lee and Simon chose him.
“Bowyer as a personality is funny and distinctive,” said Lee. “He’s great for the fans. He speaks his mind, he brings the fun. He’s somewhat of a connection to the past, and an important connection to the campaign.”
The song choice is not the traditional pop and country tune that a NASCAR fan might expect to hear. Rather, NF’s “Destiny” is a hip-hop track that was chosen by NBC Sports Producer Craig Axelrod.
“Craig’s constantly on the hunt for music,” said Simon. “He wanted something that would convey intensity and passion. It (the song) spoke to him. When you think about NASCAR, you think about certain music. He gets past that and finds something that will resonate with feelings and that’s exactly what he was able to do with this song for our NASCAR playoffs campaign.”
The spots will air through the end of September as the playoff pressure continues to increase. The goal for the team? Give viewers a sense of the driver’s personalities, while showing just how intense the playoffs are.
Simon summed it up best, saying, “The playoffs are a reset. The pressure is ratcheted up. We think it’s compelling to hear from these guys in their own voice and own words. They’re headed into an extraordinary run where the pressure just builds up, and it’s very hard to win. Drivers have to be on their A game. In our spots, we really got the drivers to let their personalities shine while conveying the message of an intense 10 races.”