TMS USING DRAMATIC WRECK FOR 'APPROVED' AD CAMPAIGN
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FORT WORTH, Texas (March 12, 2010) - Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage always has been one to capitalize on the opportunity to promote the speedway's upcoming race event when an incident or event in the sport captures the attention of the media and the fans.

Some of those promotional opportunities that have come about in recent years he would consider "no brainers" (i.e. Dan vs. Danica circa 2007), but others force a promoter to walk a fine line. That instance occurred this week as Gossage was considering utilizing the dramatic wreck of Brad Keselowski caused by Carl Edwards at Atlanta last Sunday to help promote the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, April 18, at Texas Motor Speedway.

Below is Gossage's blog that he posted this morning on ESPNDallas.com that delves into making such a decision and if he opted to walk that fine line. Ultimately, he decided to do just that by using the wreck (see attached) as part of Texas Motor Speedway's "Approved!" ad campaign, appearing today.

Did Gossage step over the line or was it another smart move by the sport's premier promoter? Feel free to go to http://espn.go.com/dallas/columns/eddiegossage/blog and voice your opinion either way in the comments section below the blog as Gossage is interested in everyone's take on the decision.



GOSSAGE BLOG POST FRIDAY, JAN. 12 ON ESPNDALLAS.COM



"Have at it, boys."

NASCAR said those words in a January press conference. While we knew it would change racing no one thought it would occur in such a spectacular manner in only the season's fourth race.

Let me qualify right up front that I really like both Carl and Brad. Edwards is an incredible talent and one of the truly nice guys I've dealt with in my career in this sport. He will win NASCAR Sprint Cup titles and I'll pay him my ultimate compliment - he's old school.

And Keselowski is a sharp young guy who is a bit on the wild side, much as I remember a young Dale Earnhardt Sr. or a young Ernie Irvan. Those comparisons are high compliments. Brad and I text back and forth and I always offer him encouragement. He's going to be huge and I'll offer him the same compliment - he's got some old school in him, too.

Remember...the old school way in NASCAR is to defend yourself. Sometimes it's immediate; sometimes it's on the track and sometimes off the track. It has been going on for decades. Both of these guys know and embrace "old school."

After finding out that, fortunately, nobody was injured, thoughts immediately turned to - what else? - promotion. We've riled some people up over the years with some of our advertising. That's typically a good thing, a very good thing in advertising and marketing.

But understanding the sensitivity of this terrifying accident and recognizing the potential injuries - or worse - that could have occurred, how do you use this incident in promotion without going over the line?

So I discussed and debated the issue with myself. I discussed and debated it with key people on the staff here at Texas Motor Speedway. (Yes, the staff debates me and they are very smart and in touch with the art of promotion. I hate "yes men.") But I just wasn't sure. In fact, I didn't sleep good Monday night because I was still debating internally.

And then NASCAR made its ruling on further punishment for Edwards: three races on probation. No suspension. No points penalized. No fine.

They made the right call. But the call also reiterated, "Have at it boys."

So my answer was easier. "You have to do it." It's one of the reasons the crowds at the NASCAR Sprint Cup races are among the top five all year long.

Our ad campaign is entitled, "Approved." You have perhaps seen the ads and the billboards. A shot of Jimmie Johnson's crumpled car with the headline, "Door Dings. Approved." Or a shot of a wild-eyed Juan Pablo Montoya, headlined, "Road Rage. Approved." Or a shot of Joey Logano's car flipping over and over reading, "Tailgating. Approved."

Who approved it? I don't know. You? Me. Some other fan? Some other driver? That's up to you to decide. We're just causing the debate to take place.

So a shot of the infamous incident at Atlanta shows Edwards driving away as Keselowski's car flips in the air. The headline reads, "Have at it, boys. Approved."

Who approved it?

That's the point: debate with amongst yourselves. Did Edwards approve it? Did Keselowski approve? How about NASCAR, by virtue of their light punishment? Other fans? Do you?

It's a hot topic and that's Promotion 101. I don't want to offend either driver, but both of them eagerly pursued reaching the top level of American motorsports and along with it comes scrutiny. It comes with the territory.

The spotlight gets hot. Things happen. Welcome to the big leagues, boys!

I'd be negligent in my role as promoter to point out to you that the three-race suspension will take place at Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix. The first race Edwards will run when the suspension is lifted?

Texas! April 18th. The Samsung Mobile 500!

"Have at it, boys."