JC Cote is a Canadian race car driver with a very big problem: money.
Cote recently signed up for the 2010 Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship series, which is great. But for each race in the series, Cote racks up between $5,000 and $10,000 in expenses, which is not so great. In this economy, finding major sponsorships to cover those costs has been fairly difficult, so Cote recently turned to his fans for support -- and not just the moral kind.
Cote is now offering friends, family, and complete strangers the chance to have their faces plastered on the side of his race car. For a mere $5 Canadian, anyone can have his/her photo placed on car #3 for one race. Just Paypal him the cash, email a high-res image to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you're good to go.
Of course, your image decal will only be 1.5" square, but never fear: your fellow racing aficionados will still know about your generosity and your love of fast cars. As we're told on JC's website, "Photos of the car with your profile pic tagged will be posted to Facebook (on JC Cote's profile). This will include professionally shot photos of the car in action and of JC in his racing gear, posed with the car." That's convenient, since it's conceivable that your pals might not recognize your postage stamp-sized face when it flies by at 100+ miles per hour.
And just in case you were wondering: yes, you can renew your sponsorship for each race in the series. The first is the Victoria Day Speedfest, which takes place May 22 & 23 at the Mosport International Raceway, with other events to follow in July, August, and September.
For a sport where corporate advertising usually sits very front and center, this is a welcome development. It gets fans involved in a fun, affordable way; it's a super-smart use of social media; and even for non-racing fans, it makes for a really good story. Check out the press release below for additional details.
* * * * *
Race car driver uses Facebook to fuel his dream
MONTREAL, May 13 2010 - Faced with the difficult task of finding sponsors for his upcoming Canadian Touring Car Championship (CCTCC) race season, Montreal-based race car driver JC Cote came up with a novel idea: to use the power of social media to offer anyone and everyone the chance to become a sponsor.
With little more than a week before his first race, Cote put a message on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, offering friends the chance to have their picture appear on his race car for the modest sum of $5. Friends and family quickly responded, only too happy to contribute to JC's endeavour. Soon, however, he started receiving pledges from people he didn't know, friends of friends of friends, who were attracted by the idea of having their picture or their kids pictures on a pro race car.
Within days of his initial post, more than 50 people had signed on, some offering considerably more than the proposed $5 pledge. Some even turned it into a competition, seeing if they could outbid one another.
"I guess this is the long tail of sponsorship. Through social media, we get to reach the little guy with a passion for racing - or for seeing his picture zoom by at 230 km/h," jokes JC.
Cote admits that the idea grew out of his frustration with the lengthy process and red tape accompanying traditional sponsorship requests aimed at large corporations.
"Don't get me wrong, major partners are important to us and we are thankful to those like Redux Media, Team 990 and Xtreme Airbrush Designs who've signed up, but with the first race only a couple weeks away, we still have a long way to go. Facebook gives the speed and immediacy to reach hundreds of potential sponsors in a matter of hours," says Cote.