DC Superheroes Race with Hendrick Motorsports

Deal is seen as a way for Nascar to attract a younger fan base and DC to promote its various properties

DC Entertainment has revved up a way for its Justice League to hit the race track.

The comicbook publisher and Warner Bros. Consumer Products have inked a three-year deal with Hendrick Motorsports to pair up characters like Superman, Batman, the Flash and Green Lantern with well-known race car drivers Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The idea is to use the characters to help promote Nascar to a younger audience and build up excitement around racing through licensing and other merchandise initiatives on and off the track.

That could include paint schemes featuring the iconic crime fighters on cars, comicbooks and digital content incorporating DC Comics’ superheroes with illustrated likenesses of Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers (see above), and the opportunity to tie-in with upcoming Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics-inspired programming and releases.

“This partnership will allow us to offer Nascar and DC Comics fans unique experiences that tap into the storylines of our characters and the successes of these four world-class athletes,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

That should especially appeal to a younger demographic that Nascar is actively trying to reach as its current fan base of 75 million people ages up. The average age of a Nascar fan is now 42 and 78% male. Only 10% of Nascar viewers are between 18 and 24.

Last year, Nascar averaged around 5.8 million viewers per race on Fox, TNT, ABC and ESPN, providing DC with a sizable audience of its own as it promotes new films like the upcoming Batman vs. Superman, the next Batman-themed “Arkham” videogame, the fall launch of “The Flash” TV series or new direct-to-homevideo titles, for example.

In announcing the pair up with DC and WB, Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said “engaging with young people” was a high priority for the company, especially as it looks to develop a stronger retail licensing platform for its drivers.

Superman will be the first character the companies will use as they rev up the partnership Memorial Day weekend, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, followed by the Michigan Intl. Speedway on June 15. The Man of Steel will be featured on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet SS in a paint scheme that will also feature the Army National Guard and “Superman Hall of Heroes,” a new online portal Warner Bros. launched this week.

The Hendrick Motorsports team has won 11-time Nascar Sprint Cup Series.

“Our partners have activated promotions around Batman and Superman that remain two of the best programs we’ve ever seen at retail,” said Patrick Perkins, Hendrick Motorsports’ VP of marketing. “We expect similar success with the Superman Hall of Heroes.”

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