Ally Financial Aims To Be A Leader In Racing

When Ally FinancialALLY
made the decision to sponsor Jimmie Johnson in his final two years in the Nascar Cup Series, the firm expected success.

As Johnson prepared to leave Nascar after the 2020 season, Ally and Hendrick Motorsports had to decide who would be the next driver of car No. 48. The decision came down to a handful of drivers, some veterans and others looking for their big break.

In October of 2020, Hendrick announced Alex Bowman would move from the No. 88 car to pilot the No. 48 Chevrolet. Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and public relations officer of Ally Financial, knew Bowman would be the face Ally needs in order to welcome new fans to the sport.

“When we first signed the deal to have Alex drive the car, I reached out to him and invited him to our house,” Brimmer said from Ally’s New York City office. “He flew up with Pat Perkins, the vice president of marketing at Hendrick. We just had a casual afternoon, playing with the dogs and had sandwiches. We talked and got to know each other.

“I asked him, ‘What’s important to you? What do you want to see in the car? What do you want to see from us?’ He was so thankful for that and it let him be himself.”

Ever since, all parties have succeeded both on and off the racetrack. Bowman had a breakout campaign in 2021, winning a career-high four races. With 20 races remaining in the 2022 season, he’s on pace to set career-highs in top fives, top 10s and average finish.

Bowman’s personality, Brimmer explained, is helping Ally become more creative with its marketing strategy. Combined with Bowman, Johnson and a new partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ally is becoming one of the major sponsorship faces in Nascar racing.

“Our sponsorship started in Nascar, but it’s grown to be a racing sponsorship,” Brimmer said. “We’ve got the association with Jimmie, endurance races, etc. We need to continue to grow into the sport of racing and figure out things that make sense for us.”

The partnership with Hendrick Motorsports is also enabling Ally to be the face of Nascar’s diversity movement. Ally designed a fresh paint scheme for Bowman’s hot rod at Sonoma Raceway in honor of Pride Month, the only sponsor to do so.

This weekend, ahead of the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, Ally will be hosting a plethora of programs. Among them are some designed to create new diehard Nascar fans, an initiative that Ally believes has already paid off.

“It’s Pride Weekend in Nashville,” Brimmer explained. “We’ve got Brothers Osborne playing at our private Ally party, and TJ [Osborne] is the first country star who’s come out.

“It fits into our strategy of how do we bring casual fans from the sidelines and make them rabid fans. We knew there were a lot of people of color, a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community, who wanted to come, but they were afraid to. We felt we could do something to change that.”

Overall, Ally is spreading its wings throughout the world of sports thanks to Brimmer’s leadership. The firm’s brand sentiment is in the “high 90-plus percent range in a category that averages in the 30s,” and she said it is because of Ally’s engagement in the sports realm.

Moving forward, Ally is looking at ways to grow in sports overall. From the National Women’s Soccer League to NFTs and streaming, the opportunities are endless.

“For us, it’s just keeping up with the rate of change and places we authentically belong,” Brimmer said. “We’ve put the budget there because we believe in the numbers, and it’s producing business. Having a budget to activate and putting those deals together, we see the benefit of it.”

The Ally 400 at Nashville begins on Sunday, June 26 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.