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Inside Nascar’s content and influencer strategy with TikTok highlighting local businesses

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Nascar’s Chicago Street Race — a race along downtown — is set to take place this weekend. To capture the fun, the racing brand struck a new partnership with TikTok — and is building an on-site studio to create content in real-time.

Nascar’s content will feature creators trying local food from local businesses, including Chicago Music Exchange, The Second City, Rubi’s on 18th, Soul & Smoke BBQ and Lou Malnati’s Pizza, said Amy Anderson, Nascar’s head of content strategy.

“This collaboration benefits Nascar by strengthening community ties, but more importantly, it gives exposure to small businesses that might not have the means for broader marketing campaigns,” said Courtney Bagby Lupilin, founder and CEO of Little Red Management, an influencer and talent management company.

Highlighting local businesses

Nascar is hosting influencers including Jackie Hartlaub (6 million TikTok followers), actress Madeline Ford (2 million TikTok followers), sports content creator Don C (277K on Instagram), YouTube motorsport content creator Grid Clique, and Chicago Food Authority (52K TIkTok followers) to showcase the experience for followers on their social channels throughout the weekend. Nascar Studios is also producing feature content packages about each of the five local businesses that will be published across Nascar’s official social channels.

“We’ve always thought about how we could create something that could be in-market, that could be a home for influencers and creators to be our sort of brand advocates across all of our events… working with [those] communities to make sure that Nascar is a part of the community,” said Anderson.

Nascar will also give some of that footage to businesses to post on their channels; business representatives are also invited to the race. Creators and influencers will also be able to use a mobile studio workspace created by TikTok and Nascar for this partnership. Neither party disclosed the financial agreement with its influencers and between the two.

Nascar and TikTok aren’t alone in looking to bolster their own brands as well as small businesses — a group that includes other brands like American Express, Vistaprint and Pepsi.

“We’re also looking forward to working with Nascar to amplify Chicago’s small businesses, showcasing the city’s cultural institutions and their local impact, as well as providing opportunities for standout businesses thriving on our platform,” said Robbie Levin, global sports partner management lead at TikTok.

By working with influencers to raise awareness of the Chicago Street Race, Nascar is taking a similar approach to that of the NFL did with Gen Z influencers. The racing league wants to extend this strategy into other markets for the rest of the year as Gen Z is using TikTok more than any other social app.

Content creation

That said, Nascar isn’t solely focusing on TikTok content. Nascar’s director of social media, Kaylee Chicoski, will distribute content across Twitter, TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels and Stories.

Teams on the ground will shoot video specific to the different platforms with social media production teams at all four corners of the track. Another team will be there to shoot what Nascar and its influencers are doing. Creators won’t be told exactly what to post, Chicoski said.

“I find it better if I hear an influencer tell their real experience, not just the highest of the highs or a curated kind of layout or run of show, but what they’re experiencing from the entirety of the time that they’re there,” Chicoski said.

It is unclear how much Nascar is spending on its marketing; Anderson and Chicoski declined to share exact figures. According to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics, the brand has spent a little over $1.8 million on advertising so far in 2023.

As of 2023, Nascar has accumulated over 590 million video views on TikTok according to social media analysis tool Agorapulse. The same data showed more than 8.5 billion views have been generated on TikTok through Nascar-related hashtags like #nascar, #daytona, and #talladega.

“TikTok has an ongoing mission to support small businesses in the U.S., so the synergy of the activation couldn’t be more perfect. It would have been easy for a major organization like Nascar to default to bigger-name partners, but this marketing strategy is much more authentic and will make a lasting impact in the Chicago market,” said Ali Fazal, vice president of marketing at the influencer marketing platform Grin.

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