by Ryan Isley
Some things never change. And when it comes to Danica Patrick, that means it will always be a circus that isn’t even worthy of the big top.
The latest dog-and-pony show put on by Patrick was the announcement of a multi-year contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing and more importantly, a new deal with Nature’s Bakery as the primary sponsor on Patrick’s No. 10 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
At first glance, the marriage of Patrick and Nature’s Bakery actually makes perfect sense. She is supposedly an up-and-coming driver in NASCAR, while Nature’s Bakery looks at itself as an up-and-comer in the business world. Nature’s Bakery has the slogan that it is “energy for all of life’s great journeys” and claims to give you the fuel you need. Patrick can often be seen in the social media world doing yoga or CrossFit, trying to stay in shape and remain healthy.
So when the announcement was made that Patrick’s new sponsor would be Nature’s Bakery, I figured I would give them a try and see just how good the product was since I was already headed to the grocery store on Tuesday anyway. After all, if the company is sponsoring a driver in NASCAR’s top series, the product has to be readily available for purchase, right?
I was able to find the fig bars at the first store I went to, although the packaging made the product difficult to find. The name of the company was not easily visible, as it was tiny above the top fold line of the packaging. The store carried the product in four flavors – apple cinnamon, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry. Since the store was out of stock on the strawberry, I went with blueberry.
After leaving the store, I tried the fig bar and it was delicious. That actually surprised me because I am not much of an organic food or health food eater. I would rather sit down with a package of Oreos or a can of Pringles or a big bowl of Pierre’s ‘Nuts About Buckeyes’ ice cream.
I will now pause while you grab a snack…
Once I had tried the blueberry, I decided to head to a different store to pick up the strawberry since that was the flavor I really wanted to try. That’s when the wheels fell off. The excitement of the new sponsor fizzled just as quickly as Patrick’s Sprint Cup Series career after earning the pole and finishing 8th in the 2013 Daytona 500.
As the afternoon carried on, I went to store after store after store. This included a number of different grocery store chains, WalMart, Target, CVS and Walgreens. What I came to find out was that not only did these stores not carry the product, but most of the people who actually worked in the section where the product would be found if the store carried it had never even heard of Nature’s Bakery.
When all was said and done, I went to 15 stores. How many stores carried Nature’s Bakery? TWO. That’s just 13.3% of stores that I went to that actually carry the product which will be on the car of one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers. The sad part is that you still have a better chance of finding Nature’s Bakery on the store shelves than you do of finding Danica Patrick in the top-10 in the 105 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in her career (5.7%).
While Nature’s Bakery is still just in its infancy, the company carries products in all 50 states, even if you have a hard time finding them. The problem is that it doesn’t seem like the company was anywhere near prepared to take such a huge leap into the world of NASCAR sponsorship, especially with a driver that has the popularity of Danica Patrick. When there is a press conference scheduled where you are pretty much saying to the world “hey look at us,” you had better have product readily available and easy to find. Otherwise, it won’t matter who the driver is that promotes you. If people can’t find your product, it is just another case of out of sight, out of mind.
At least with this sponsor, Patrick won’t be able to use her sex appeal to try and sell it as she did with her previous sponsor, GoDaddy.com. Of course, that didn’t stop her from caring about how the car looks and if it looks good against her skin. No, really.
“I feel like that’s a really good color for me. Really good against my complexion,” Patrick said in the press conference that was streamed live on NASCAR.com. “I think, also, to be serious, it’s going to stand out on track. There’s not quite a color out there like it and definitely not this much of it. I think it’s going to stand out, which is important. More importantly, it’s going to look great against my skin tone.”
Well hey, at least Patrick has her priorities straight, even if her car isn’t always going that way.