Fast-Track PR

FROM NASCAR TO THE PGA TOUR, Waste Management Inc. (WM) is making its way around the pro sports circuit like, well, a race car driver. The company has decided to support a couple of cars and drivers in a series of NASCAR races. WM also is sponsoring an entry in the sport's Dodge Weekly Series as part of the Drive for Diversity campaign. The initiative aims to develop minority and female drivers and crewmembers.

By championing the program, WM says it will be able to help emphasize a commitment to safety, teamwork, top performance and inclusion. No doubt, the company hopes to receive a bump up in name recognition from the advertising, too.

But are those expensive marketing dollars being unnecessarily blown out like an underinflated tire?

Not really.

Sure, the thought that the company is actually conveying a safety message via NASCAR is a bit of a stretch. Yet upon closer inspection, you'll see that WM is gaining real business — plus a loyal fan-base of customers — in exchange for its support.

Other haulers have used high-visibility branding campaigns to their advantage. Take, for instance, the many companies that have painted their trucks to educate residents about their services or create customer connections. These moving billboards do wonders for the industry in promoting a clean, professional image in the community. Yet, make no mistake — WM has taken its marketing campaign one step further to ensure that when it negotiates contracts, its branding messages are doing more than creating the typical buzz around community circles.

Through its negotiated sponsorships, WM now can provide waste and recycling services to nearly all of the racetracks holding NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and Bush Series races. Additionally, the company is involved at the local level as a service-provider for many of the other Dodge Weekly Series Tracks. And on the fairway, WM has become the official environmental waste services provider for both the PGA and Champion Tour. The PGA Tour also has pledged to assist the waste company in developing business relationships with events, golf courses and other tour sponsors.

Your company or community might not have as many marketing dollars as the industry's behemoth. Nevertheless, you might want to drive away with this tip: When deciding on the venues that boost your brand recognition, be sure any time, money and effort has equal value. Because in today's tough business climate, it's not enough to perfunctorily throw a few dollars to drum up local interest in a program. Rather, if you're going to spend money, you might as well go for the checkered flag.

The author is the editor of Waste Age