WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- I was not overly surprised when I heard the National Guard spent about 26 million dollars to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Junior’s number 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup race car. I suspect a lot of folks thought the Hendricks people did that out of pure patriotism. Not so.
Not only did they pay 26 million, according to National Guard tracking, they only received 25,000 inquiries from that source. Considering there are nearly 350 million people in this country 25,000 responses is statistically insignificant at about .07 percent of the population.
That alone is not so bad, but when you consider only 20 of those actually were qualified to enlist. What is worse, none of those that were qualified enlisted, making that advertising method a great big zero!
I have always questioned the viability of advertising on race cars in general. I doubt if sponsoring race cars has a very significant pay back. Perhaps it works better for the top race teams and drivers, although the National Guard sponsorship puts a huge hit on that. Of course I am not against private business sponsoring race car teams, but I can not support tax payer dollars doing it.
I also feel that a lot of that sponsorship for that and other major sporting events is more about ego than results. National advertisers get a lot of perks from the millions they spend. Like special treatment at those events, and getting to hob nob with the celebrity crowd.
I also am a bit jealous because newspapers get very little in the way of paid advertising from the same national sporting teams and events. Only the largest players in our industry get a slice of the corporate pie.
Yet these same big time sports teams are always quick to send out plenty of news releases and unpaid PSA’s (public service announcements). Over the years this newspaper has donated tens of thousands of dollars in public service announcements for many well deserving governmental non profits including the National Guard.
I certainly support the efforts of the armed forces in their attempt to attract new people, but I wonder if the money would be better spent offering signing bonuses or other incentives in the form of better pay and benefits overall. After all these men and women do a great service for all of us who continue to enjoy the freedoms we do. Too often it seems our returning service people are denied basic things they were promised when signing up. Too often returning combat personnel have difficulty getting help for things like post traumatic syndrome and other mental health issues. Too often the families of these defenders pay a heavy price while their loved one serves abroad.
These people really do pay a huge price for the rest of us. It is easy for the rest of us to sit back in our cozy and comfortable homes with little regard for what is going on in the middle east. The least we can do is say thank you to our men and women in uniform.
For the record, I am a NASCAR fan, and a Dale Junior fan too.
Have a great week and do good!
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