‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ ~Winston Churchill. The words are as true today as when Churchill uttered them in 1948 or George Santayana when he originally said essentially the same thing in 1905. Yet, major organizations, those with no stake in politics, are taking political sides and alienating their consumers in the process. Perhaps the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods was just ignorant of his consumer base or Yeti made a miscalculation when it cut ties with the NRA. However, when it comes to NASCAR taking an anti-gun approach, it simply baffles the imagination as to who is calling the shots and how out of touch they are with their fan base.
Consider this, even if your audience was split 50-50 as to the issue of the Second Amendment, why would you intentionally alienate half of your base? Let’s take it to an extreme. What organization wants to intentionally anger even 10 percent of its base? I am sure much more than 10 percent of NASCAR’s fan base is pro gun, but that seems to be of little import to NASCAR. This is an organization which bragged for years that it was born out of bootleggers running Moonshine. NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series ran for over three decades sponsored by none other than the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. What about the Busch Series? Does NASCAR now view hunting rifles, Modern Sporting Rifles, and even scoped .22 LR rifles as so taboo that they cannot even be depicted in an ad in the official program sold at the races?
Gander Outdoors sponsors the NASCAR Truck Series. Does NASCAR realize what is for sale at Gander? Bass Pro Shops sponsors a car. Has NASCAR checked out what Bass Pro is selling besides worms and hooks? This all happened two after the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Reports now say Henry USA is vying for a new NASCAR sponsorship. The mixed messaging leaves many scratching their heads. Then, NASCAR came out with its “Gradual Shift” to its position on guns.
Nascar’s “Gradual Shift”
In March and April 2019, several firearms retailers and manufacturers were contacted by National Event Publications, Official media sales agent for the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, PGA, NHRA, & USA Today Lifestyle. The pitch was to buy advertising in the official program for the last 26 races of the season. K-Var opted to advertise, as did at least 16 other manufacturers or retailers including CZ-USA, Beretta, Daniel Defense, and others. The deadline to have our artwork submitted for approval was April 19, 2019.
Then, on August 19, 2019 (four months later) we were contacted by National Event Publications with the following message.
We just heard from NASCAR on a number of gun related ads and unfortunately, due a gradual shift in NASCAR’s position on guns, these ads must be edited/changed—especially those that are depicted as assault-style rifles/sniper rifles. NASCAR is still open to some of the less controversial gun accessories, concealed carry, or classes.
Did you know NASCAR was going through a “gradual shift on guns?” What does that even mean? NASCAR has allowed ads from firearms manufacturers for several years. AK-47s, AR-15s, and scoped rifles have all been featured in the past, so I guess, by that statement, it can only mean that NASCAR is marching toward a complete anti-gun stance—it is just slow rolling it for some reason.
The first few people I related this story to all met it with disbelief. NASCAR? Do they have any clue who their base audience is? Do they not know the ramifications, the fervent uproar and boycotts the pro Second Amendment supporters have waged against the likes of Dick’s Sporting Goods or Yeti Coolers? All Yeti had to do was state it was cutting ties with the NRA for political reasons to earn the ire of the pro firearms forces, which expressed their displeasure in rather spectacular fashion. What will they do with NASCAR?
Is NASCAR trying to “split the baby?”
Note: The term “to split the baby” is an idiomatic expression for what seems like an unreasonable decision but is actually a ploy to flush out the truth. It is a psychological game: based on people’s reactions to his announcement, the decision-maker will be able to gather the right information.
Do the executives at NASCAR think they are being sly and trying to judge its fans’ position on America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15 or Modern Sporting Rifle, or is it so blind to the interests of its own fan base’s demographics?
Whether or not you are a hardcore NASCAR fan, do you think the majority of NASCAR’s fanbase is pro Second Amendment or pro gun control? Does anyone really believe an overwhelming majority of NASCAR fans are not going to flip out at NASCAR’s “gradual shift?” Where do you stand on NASCAR’s new “Gradual Shift?” Share your answers in the comment section.
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