Motorsports Marketing and Sponsorship Activation Blog

How to Make Your Audience Feel Like Part of the Team

3/12/18 9:42 AM

Being part of a professional sports team is a special, exclusive feeling. The thrill layers over exciting locations, unique access and front-row seats to professional athletes competing at the highest level. That first-hand experience is only available to a select few individuals, but what if you could package that feeling for your employees, partners and customers?

Case Study

811 wanted to make a large group feel part of the team. For this project, they wanted to engage their employees first by letting them know that their actions made a large impact on the important mission of 811. They then wanted to reinforce their ongoing objective of raising awareness and knowledge of the service, which is not something we wanted to leave behind.

By incorporating numerous assets inside and outside of the motorsports portfolio, we engaged the target audience from multiple different angles with relevant messaging and activation. Throughout the year, 811, Shell Pipeline and the Common Ground Alliance maximized this campaign with always-on social media engagement. They have been remarkable to work with, and Team SD is proud to help elevate the 811 platforms and services in the name of safe digging around the country.

Through support from Shell-Pennzoil's NASCAR sponsorship, 811 benefits from unique access and exposure for its essential safety message. The campaign started with understanding how guests from 811 can leverage behind-the-scenes access with their activation in motorsportsTo celebrate 811's 10th birthday, we presented an opportunity to join the #22 Shell-Pennzoil team in a selection of NASCAR races. We created custom experiences for 811 guests to enjoy, and be able to see their work up close and personal. This connection would also give 811 access to various unique assets to raise awareness and create engaging content surrounding the Common Ground Alliance Conference & Expo. Working far beyond a logo on the car, we brought the message to various audiences through multiple unique assets.

Direct Engagement with NASCAR Fans

NASCAR is the most popular form of motorsport in the United States, the key target market for 811. The NASCAR calendar reaches over 30 markets per year, coast to coast. Research shows that the typical NASCAR fan is also one to be very apt to be involved in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects that include things like landscaping their backyard, or putting in landscape lighting, etc. These synergies provided a perfect platform for 811 to share their message on. This direct engagement was thanks to the support of Shell Pipeline, a division of Shell. They leveraged their sponsorship to bring the message of safe digging to this key audience. Team SD was proud to be involved with the various parties, ensuring a consistent and value-based approach. We also actively secured the available assets to begin the creative process.

Celebrating the 811 Team on the Front Lines

The 811 service is so beneficial because of the hundreds of dedicated employees working for 811 that make it their mission to advocate for safe digging. When you dial 811, they are the ones who come out to inspect your property, checking for underground pipelines and wires that you need to avoid. They bring this free service to individuals as much as they do to businesses. It was our goal to bring everyone together to celebrate such remarkable work, on the important 10th anniversary of the service. There was no better way to celebrate than to develop a special 811 decklid for the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion. To see their work up close and personal, we developed VIP hospitality and trackside experiences for select 811 employees to enjoy.

Maximize Exposure and Education About the 811 Service for Consumers

By incorporating unique assets into one cohesive program throughout the year, we elevated 811's important safety message for a larger audience for the same cost. We took these assets, plus proprietary creative we developed, and engaged the target audience from numerous angles on broadcast TV, radio, driver appearances and more.

Creative Activation

The myth of sponsorship programs is that the entire program consists of a logo on a car or uniform, and that's it. We are actively against that approach, and through the right activation and mix of assets, sponsorship becomes one of the most engaging and valuable marketing platforms around. Couple all of that with the excitement of motorsports and you have an ROI-rich recipe. To bring 811's messaging to life, we turned to a wide range of creative assets to use.

On-car Branding with the NASCAR Decklid

811's hundreds of brilliant employees submitted a portrait of themselves to us. We worked with Team Penske to create a specially painted section of the #22 NASCAR known as the decklid. We created the ultimate mural underneath the bonding phrase of "I am 811." Every employee was featured on the car, riding with the team. A select few were even at the race to see their whole team at 200 miles per hour.

811-decklid-mural.jpg A look at the finished product. Hundreds of 811 employees were featured on the special edition "I am 811" decklid that was captured here at Texas Motor Speedway and other race weekends.

PRN Radio Activation

Safety is the leading priority of motorsports, especially NASCAR. That is why when there is an accident on the track, or if there is some interference, race officials immediately bring out the yellow caution flag before getting back to the race. That is not so different from how 811 operates. Before you go digging in your backyard without knowing what is underground (and trust us, there is a lot of important things underground from natural gas lines to fiber optic cables), 811 encourages you to stop and "Call Before You Dig." To bring this to life for NASCAR fans, we partnered with the Performance Radio Network (PRN) to give out a special type of caution flag. Heard around the country on the radio and seen across social media, the 811 Caution Flag is a subtle reminder to always Call Before You Dig. 

Leveraging the synergy between motorsports and daily life, we activated a previously untapped asset - the yellow caution flag. Every time there was a caution on the track, PRN listeners received regular reminders to call 811 before they dig. The message was reinforced on social media to PRN's thousands of followers with the graphic. Listen in above for a sample.

Fuel For Success Youth Initiative

We didn't only want to bring the message to adults, but also to kids. We integrated a key youth initiative called Fuel For Success to show kids the importance of safe digging. Not only did they get to see and hear about 811 from NASCAR driver Joey Logano, but they also received custom backpacks and information kits about the service to keep and bring the message into the home where it can be a constant reminder for the families.


Student members of Fuel For Success speak with NASCAR driver Joey Logano ahead of the race. This is when they are all given an 811 backpack to take home with them and remember how important it is for their parents to call 811 before they dig and work in the yard.

Integration of Existing Assets: The Cox Utility Call 811 Balloon

Completely separate from anything developed for motorsports, we identified strategic opportunities to integrate multiple efforts already put in place by the 811 marketing team. One of which was the Cox Utility Call 811 hot air balloon. The balloon was on a cross-country tour for the 10th anniversary, and through sponsorship opportunities, we integrated it into key markets on the motorsports calendar. The balloon was featured in prime, widely visible locations at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in California and the NASCAR race in Bristol, TN.

While at Bristol Motor Speedway, we invited key media members to learn more about 811. Leveraging Joey Logano’s spotter Tab Boyd as spokesman, we made a further connection to safety. As a professional spotter, it is Boyd's job to constantly survey and look out for potential hazards coming in the way of his driver. During the race, Boyd sees more than his driver because of his unique vantage point of the track. Just like 811 sees more than we as consumers can, because they know about the many utilities and piping buried below our feet. The story included a ride in the Hot Air Balloon for Boyd, and sparked national coverage from PRN Radio, NASCAR.com, and Johnson City Press.


Throughout this campaign, we brought together two teams collaborating in the name of safety for all those involved. We created a unique method of employee engagement through sponsorships and maintained 811's evergreen objective of increased program awareness. This entire ongoing campaign would not have been possible without our client and partner Shell, and Shell Pipeline. Their dedication to safety and remarkable support for motorsports is how this came to life. We also would like to recognize 811 and the Common Ground Alliance for their tireless mission to ensure everyone, individuals and businesses alike, always practice the safest digging possible. Their ambition to elevate the important message is a constant inspiration to us all. 

Want to know how this case study fits into a larger activation plan that can be customized to your brand?

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Topics: Sponsorship Activation

Team SD

Written by Team SD

Leveraging a wide range of experience in sports marketing and sponsorship activation, our team is always looking to add value. We love collaborating with each other and we write together with you in mind.