Centrix plans to use its relationship with NASCAR to inform buyers about the lender and its new service. Since last spring, Centrix of Centennial, Colo., has invested more than $10 million in its NASCAR relationships, says Rick Bolton, the company's executive vice president of marketing.
Centrix is the official auto finance company of NASCAR. It is planning a seven-state road show that follows 13 Nextel Cup Series races this year.
The tour will include promotional events at NASCAR races and at its partner dealerships. It starts Feb. 20, the day of the Daytona 500.
Centrix is the primary sponsor of a Chevrolet car scheduled to race in 10 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races. The car will feature the Centrix company logo.
Centrix is not the only vehicle lender with a NASCAR presence. General Motors Acceptance Corp. has been a primary sponsor of a NASCAR vehicle since 1998.
Seventy-five million U.S. fans follow the Nextel Cup Series, and NASCAR says 72 percent of NASCAR fans are more likely to buy a sponsor's product than a similar product sold by a company that is not a NASCAR sponsor.
"People who follow NASCAR do seem to support the companies that sponsor it," says Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
"The big risk for a company like this is people might not know what this company does, so the sponsorship dollars could be wasted."
Educating consumers about what Centrix offers will be a key challenge of the new campaign, Sutton says.
As part of that effort, Centrix next month will start enabling Web site visitors to determine how much money they are qualified to borrow for a vehicle purchase. Centrix will notify consumers by e-mail of the maximum loan for which they are eligible. The notice also will give consumers a list of the dealerships near their homes that offer Centrix loans. Centrix likely will contact consumers with information on interest rates.