Yesterday, in a true partisan vote the U.S. House rejected a Democrat-sponsored bill to defund the Pentagon funding of NASCAR drivers and partnerships 281-148. This gave the green light to the Pentagon to continue funding of NASCAR driver Randy Newman, and others.
The U.S. Army reports that this funding has contributed to 48,000 leads. However, in the same Wall Street Journal article, the Marines stopped their NASCAR support in 2006 because they found that NASCAR has no benefit to recruiting efforts.
Ironically, it was Congress back in 2000 that encouraged the Pentagon to leverage NASCAR support to boost recruiting. Why was the Marine funding a failure, and the Army funding a reported success?
Let's be honest, even the Department of Defense needs to trim its fat. And even someone like myself who is a defense hawk, sees that spending $7.4 million on NASCAR sponsorship is honestly a waste of taxpayer money. Last year, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill told the Sports Business Journal that "the biggest problem facing NASCAR is that young males have left the sport." What this means is that the Pentagon's target audience of males 18-34 patronizing NASCAR have declined 29%.
On-site patronage of NASCAR events is down nearly one million from its peak in 2003. In 2003, NASCAR benefit from nearly 4.5 million (4,494,000) in attendance. In 2010, on-site attendance fell to 3,594,708. Even television viewership is down over nine percent from 2009 levels.
Given these startling statistics, the return on investment by the Pentagon's NASCAR sponsorship is just not there. If the Pentagon wants to reach the 18-34 target audience, it would be best for them to leverage Internet advertisements, and social media applications for smart phones (e.g. iPhone, Android, Blackberry), where this target demographic spends most of their online time. A Pew Research report supports this analysis.