Sponsors Slam On The Brakes

According to The New York Times, last weekend outside Phoenix International Raceway, Kurt Busch, the 2004 Nextel Cup champion, received a citation for reckless driving in an incident that involved alcohol. Apparently, Busch behaved in a belligerent manner toward the Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies during the incident. Proof of his intoxication, however, is inconclusive.
Given Nascar’s decision to allow liquor advertising late last year, even the possibility of impropriety is enough to tarnish the sport’s wholesome image.
So, Busch–who drives the No. 97 Crown Royal car–is out. At least for now.
“We did not want to be in a position where Roush Racing and Diageo and Newell Rubbermaid could be viewed as condoning this behavior,” Roush Racing’s president, Geoff Smith, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “In the end, we decided the only appropriate thing to do was suspend him.”
“Diageo does not condone this type of behavior from anyone affiliated with our brands or our business,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We fully support Roush Racing’s swift actions in this regard.”
[UPDATE] Kurt Busch was not intoxicated, according to this update in the the New York Times. His blood alcohol level was recorded at .017, light years away from the .08 needed in Arizona to prove legal intoxication.
Yet, Roush Racing’s president, Geoff Smith, said yesterday that the team had no plans to rescind the suspension despite the latest information from the sheriff’s office. “There can’t be any activity engaged in by a driver that the general community would believe negatively impacts on the brand or on the team or on the company,” Smith said in a telephone interview.
Excuse me, but is this guy a racecar driver or a human billboard? I don’t know squat about racing, but it seems to me this champion ought to be out shopping for a new team that wants to support him. He ran a stopsign and talked some smack. BFD.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.