Magazine article American Banker

MBNA to Market Affinity Cards through Stock Car Racing Group

Magazine article American Banker

MBNA to Market Affinity Cards through Stock Car Racing Group

Article excerpt

MBNA Corpo. has revved up its affinity machine by landing Nascar -- the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

It could be one of the most powerful card-marketing alliances. Tens of millions of Nascar followers spend $1 billion annually on tickets and merchandise.

MBNA America Bank will issue a series of MasterCard affinity cards that feature racing themes and individual stock car drivers. The MBNA-Nascar cards will have a 14% annual percentage rate and no annual fee the first year.

So far, MBNA has signed eight Winston Cup Series drivers for its cards: Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Harry Gant, Ernie Irvan, Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Petty.

Nascar claims to be one of the first organizations to be placing individual personalities on credit cards.

MasterCard Sponsorship

At the same time, MasterCard International has become the official credit card of the Nascar circuit, said to be the nation's fastest-growing spectator sport. MasterCard is the first payment system to market through the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based racing association.

Strategically, the sponsorship allows MasterCard and MBNA to reach 20 million spectators and national television and radio audiences. Almost 2,000 Nascar races take place in 40 states.

"When the market is this large, you don't need all the 20 million to create a business proposition that makes sense," said Steven Drees, MasterCard's vice president of affinity and co-branded marketing. "We think [Nascar] is the next big affinity opportunity."

Draw for Corporate Sponsors

Jim Andrews, editorial director of IEG Sponsorship Report, a newsletter than tracks sports promotions, pointed out that Nascar is already a big draw for corporate sponsors, including McDonald's, Maxwell House, and Kellogg's.

Among financial service providers, Commercial Credit Co., a unit of Primerica Corp., is a Nascar sponsor in the Southeast.

"It reaches our customer base," said Marjorie Magner, president of the finance company. "It's a phenomenal way to reach people. …

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