MCGA helps race fans connect with ethanol

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

MCGA staged four “Jam The Stands” events at stock car races across Minnesota during the last week of July, to reach race fans with a message about the positive impact of ethanol fuel on the economy and the environment in Minnesota.

With “Jam The Stands,” MCGA bought the entire grandstand section and offered free admission for the evening at each of the four tracks: KRA Speedway in Willmar, Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo, Madison Speedway and Viking Speedway in Alexandria.

“Each of the races had about double the usual attendance,” said Chad Willis, a farmer in Willmar and past chairman of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council.

In return for bringing in the big audience, MCGA had the chance to deliver the facts about ethanol. The track announcers played trivia games with the crowd. Volunteers from the local corn grower groups sold specially made t-shirts with “Jam The Stands” logos. 

Among the trivia and “did you know” questions, the audience learned that ethanol reduced gasoline prices an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011 in the Midwest (source: Iowa State University study) and that ethanol plants directly provide high wage jobs for 8500 people in small towns across Minnesota. They also learned that corn is Minnesota’s largest crop at 1.2 billion bushels, and 95 percent of the farms that produce it are family farms.

“As a marketer you want people in the stands and ‘Jam The Stands’ definitely did it,” said Willis. “You get the message out, engaging the crowd before and between the races, and you get a chance to talk about the benefits of ethanol to Minnesota and the nation. It’s very effective. We had lots of people coming up to us and thanking the corn growers for the free admission. There were lots of families. With these events, from the track’s point of view, you want to create new race fans. The fact that so many kids come with their families helps the tracks build their future audience.”

The t-shirts have been a popular item since MCGA began sponsoring the ‘Governor’s Ethanol Challenge.’ Shirts from the previous seven years were visible throughout the stands at all four race evenings. This is the first year of the new marketing concept, Jam The Stands. The bright green shirts with orange highlights offered the message: “Jam The Stands: From Field To Fuel.” The back of the shirt showed race cars with numbers 20 and 12, to show the current year.

“Seeing all the previous years’ shirts and all the Jam The Stands shirts out in the crowd you can instantly see that the shirts are an ongoing message, which makes them a super marketing tool.”

 

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