Monday, April 21, 2014

“I Want To Thank…” How They Do That

Edwards good at "thank you" and taking off his sunglasses
Ever wonder how the winning driver gets out of a car after 500 grueling miles on the race track and almost immediately begins to thank a list of sponsors – and in the exact order of importance to the team?  In this day of multiple primary sponsors during the course of a season, it’s even more challenging.

Fortunately, he has help.

Not everyone does it this way, but perched behind the television interviewer and carefully hidden from the television cameras you'll sometimes find the driver’s PR person, manager or helmet holder, who has a list of sponsors for the driver to see and read so he doesn’t forget anyone.   The more experienced you are and the more stable your sponsor is, for instance Jimmie Johnson and Lowe’s, the less likely the list will be needed. 

Watch the driver’s eyes, that’s typically giveaway.  The lists are often handwritten (don’t want to jinx anything with a pre-printed list) and might include a special mention for the day (the fans who sat out in the rain all day, etc.)

Eddie Sachs, an IndyCar driver from the 1950s and ‘60s, is often credited with being one of the first to realize the importance of public relations and thanking sponsors.  He’d grab the microphone with both hands before the interviewer knew what happened and launch into his list of thank yous and stories until he was ready to give it back.  He also was one of the first to feature his sponsor on his helmet, painting a red circle on top of his white helmet in deference to the American Red Ball Moving company.

These days Carl Edwards is the best at working in the sponsor’s name, even if it is a little corny at times.  And Edwards does a good job of removing his sunglasses for interviews, although sometimes he makes too big a deal of it.

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