Monday, April 16, 2007

AT&T and NASCAR Go To Court Over Sponsorship

Lets start at the beginning. Nextel took over sponsorship of the NASCAR’s Cup series in 2004. Part of there contract with NASCAR, as I understand it, is that NO new Cellular companies can become sponsors n the Nextel Cup series.

Ryan Newman’s #12 Alltel Dodge Team along with Robby Gordon’s Cingular Team (now Jeff Burton’s) were grandfathered. So as long as Alltel and Cingular keep up there sponsorship, they can stay in. If I fully understand this then neither of these team could pull out for a year and then come back if they wanted to. That’s all fine.

Now, Cingular has become AT&T. AT&T is now in the process of combing the names in a marketing strategy to get people thinking that AT&T and Cingular are the same –which they are. They are the same company right now – remember that – they are the same company, just 2 names. AT&T obviously wants “AT&T” on their car and not Cingular.

And to think of it, Nextel is actually in the same boat, as far as company names go. Nextel was purchased by Sprint. So now it is Nextel Sprint and eventually it will become just Sprint (Sprint Cup Series – just for the record, I don’t like the sounds of that).

So Nextel is saying that AT&T can not put THAT name on the Jeff Burton’s #31 car because no NEW Cellular sponsors can enter the Cup Series. What I don’t get is that there is NOT a NEW sponsor coming into the cup – remember – Cingular and AT&T are the same company. AT&T is not saying they want to enter a 3rd car into the cup. They just want to put the correct name on the #31. Cingular (the name) is going to be non-existent in the near future.

This is a story that I am interested in so I will keep up dates on it here. As a Ryan Newman fan and an Alltel employee I am curious how this whole thing works out. It does not make sense to me except that it seems like NASCAR is backing Nextel in this dispute (it is AT&T and NASCAR in court – not Nextel). I think, and understand why, Nextel wants to get rid of one more Cellular sponsor. Does this mena that they will eventually try getting rid of Alltel someday? I don’t know. But this issue seems silly to me since Cingular and AT&T are THE SAME!

Going to court
NASCAR, AT&T ready to battle on sponsorship issue

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