Portland, OR – Multnomah University has unveiled plans for the sponsorship of a NASCAR team. The name of the team will be “Team MU Good Racing”. The new partnership with the world-famous NASCAR racing product is the largest advertising and brand-awareness endeavor for the small private Christian institution. Financial terms of the deal are not being announced; but details on the car, number, and driver are available.
First Buses, Then Race Cars
Many people in the Portland, Oregon market remember that, back in 2008-2009, Multnomah University ran a significant public transit ad campaign on buses with Tri-Met as a part of launching the “University” name. The campaign was so well-received that it prompted officials to look at other transportation advertising venues. This, combined with the need to increase brand exposure to a national audience who would be natural targets for Multnomah’s message, led to the contact with NASCAR officials.
When reached for comment, Director of Promotions and Communications Robert Leary said:
“The traditional, conservative values often associated with the NASCAR product and fan-base seem to be a natural fit for Multnomah’s brand. It really is a no-brainer when you consider that many of the races happen in the ‘Bible Belt’.”
Car, Driver, #36
Images of the car and design schemes along with the driver’s suit are available at Multnomah University’s blog. Team MU Good Racing will run with the number 36 car in honor of its founding year: 1936. The identity of the crew and driver are not being released at this time.
Running the Good Race
2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Given that Multnomah’s motto is “If it’s Bible you want, then you want Multnomah!”, it is only fitting that the car use its exposure to promote a positive message. The Bible reference 2 Timothy 4:7 will be on the hood of the car right in front of the Multnomah logo.
An unnamed source from NASCAR reports that:
“We’re encouraging this team to leverage their unique message to take advantage of the cross-promotion opportunity in front of them. One of the ways is to modify the motto to read ‘If you want to win the good race, then you want Multnomah!’.”
“In addition to the massive increase in brand exposure, we’re investigating the revenue-sharing capabilities with broadcast partners like The Speed Channel and ESPN. Our hope is that this will create a win-win situation where there will be enough revenue generated to not only off-set the cost of the sponsorship rights, but to also help support the various student aid funds.”
Several unnamed alumni have come forward in opposition to the NASCAR campaign and have indicated that they will be forming a group to contest the decision. Concerns range from issues of financial stewardship to cultural and theological ones.
One Alumni detractor who declined to be identified stated:
“Our main concern is that we are now associating the Multnomah name with something that is perpetually going left. It just seems like a slippery slope.”
In response, Multnomah’s Promotions Coordinator Dave Hardy said:
“While we understand the concerns, we would do well to remember that it is possible that even some of the Gospels may have been written with an author's left hand. This can help us to remember that – unless you are actually near a wet embankment – merely going left as a physical direction is not necessarily a ‘slippery slope’.”
“Regardless of which direction they're turning, the point is that the cars go around the track so many times, people will have hundreds of opportunities to see our logo over the course of a race.”
“I find important Bible verses can be quite helpful when choosing to support this version of ministry. One such verse is I Corinthians 9:24 – ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.’”
Early in the process, Multnomah University President Dr. Daniel R. Lockwood was skeptical of the benefits of sponsoring a NASCAR race team. It wasn’t until he was given the financial forecasts and the opportunity to take a special stock car performance driving class that he was convinced.
When asked about his current opinion on the matter, Dr. Lockwood remarked:
“Having driven an institution like Multnomah for so many years has uniquely prepared me to drive this new car! Also, they were kind enough to give me my own race suit and performance driving classes – I’m proud to say that I’ve logged no fewer than 3.5 hours of drive time.”
Always remembering his role as a theologian as well as university president, Lockwood summed up his thoughts thusly:
“Furthermore, just like Paul says in Galatians 5:7 – ‘You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?’ I assure you that no one will ‘cut in on me’ when I’m racing the good race.'”