16 STREAMING MEDIA January/February 2018
behind the screens
NASCAR Puts Fans in the Driver’s Seat—at 190 MPH
times dangerous. That video translates well
into the digital and social world.”
NASCAR’s partnership with Twitter goes
beyond live video into one of Twitter’s most
popular engagement tools: emojis. TV show
and movie marketers often work with Twitter
to create custom emojis that display when us-
ers include a certain hashtag in their posts.
For this series, NASCAR took the idea even
further: Rather than creating one special emo-
ji for the series, it created one for each driver.
The drivers themselves were invited to design
their emojis, which were then created by NA-
SCAR’s in-house creative design team.
While NASCAR could have simply created
the icons on its own or based emojis on each
driver’s number, getting the drivers involved
let their characters come through, and that’s
a big goal for NASCAR.
“When you get in a car that’s covered and
you put on a helmet that covers your head,
and then you put a visor down that covers your
eyes, and you race for 3 hours, you don’t get
that visual that a lot of the other sports leagues
have the luxury of,” Warfield says. “We spend
a ton of time trying to get these guys outside
their helmet, outside of their car, doing ini-
tiatives like the emoji program that really al-
lows them to show their personality.”
NASCAR started the discussion early, tell-
ing drivers they could design their own emoji
or NASCAR would do it for them. Most driv-
ers jumped at the chance to do it themselves
and promote their personal brands. Young su-
perstar Ryan Blaney showed a silhouette of
his face in sunglasses, Wisconsin native Matt
Kenseth showed a wedge of cheese, and Kyle
Busch memorialized the bow with the check-
ered flag he performs after a win. Chase
Elliott’s shows his beard and 24 hat, while
Denny Hamlin, who is sponsored by FedEx,
showed a delivery truck with his number on it.
He wasn’t the only driver to celebrate a spon-
sor: Brad Keselowski, sponsored by Miller
Lite, showed two beers toasting, while Ryan
Newman, sponsored by Caterpillar, showed
These were elimination playoffs, and that
carried over to the emojis: When drivers were
eliminated from competition, their emojis
were retired. The icons did their job, though,
as NASCAR saw an uptick in fan use of driver
hashtags during the playoffs.
Compared to other sports leagues, NASCAR has been especially forward-thinking in
its use of online video. It reaches fans on a variety of platforms, including NASCAR.com, two
mobile apps, and Facebook, Instagram, Snap-chat, and Twitter accounts. And that doesn’t
include all of the individual driver accounts,
team accounts, and broadcast partners. No
matter what channel fans prefer, they’re sure
to find some video.
“This has been a great partnership with
Twitter and one that we think the fans are
enjoying as we come down the home stretch
in one of the biggest portions of our season,”
Troy Dreier ( email@example.com) is senior associate editor
of Streaming Media and Onlinevideo.net.
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created their own
emojis to reflect
picked a wedge of
Kyle Busch captured