By: Krista McNamara,

Adam Chafe, vice president of marketing for Sherwin-Williams talks to ABRN about the power that a motorsports sponsorship can have in helping to grow and promote your brand, leading to more money for you at the end of the day.


Adam Chafe


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ABRN: There are many motorsports events and organizations out there — why is NASCAR a good choice?
NASCAR works for us for a number of reasons, and the partnership began a number of years ago. Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has worked with NASCAR teams for 15 years plus. We work with a dozen different teams, and you’ll see our products on 30 different cars and partnered with 30 different drivers each and every weekend. It started there, with alliances with the teams, and we continue those today and have very productive relationships with them. A few years ago, we
formalized a relationship with the governing body of NASCAR and have become the Official Transportation Finishes of NASCAR, as well as the Official Paint of NASCAR.

ABRN: How has the partnership worked?
That partnership works for us for a number of reasons, and it really all connects back to our brands. NASCAR is one of the strongest properties in all of sports, and the strongest brand in all of motorsports. It has 5.3 million viewers on average that tune-in every race week and very powerful platforms in social and online media, and that really is where it begins for us. Where we get the most leverage is when we connect the power of their brand to the power of ours. The phrase, “Ask Sherwin-Williams,” the identity of our brand, is well known throughout a number of different industries, but it stands for the same thing in all — expertise and access. Expertise in the people who work for our company and the products that they sell, and access in that we own our own Sherwin-Williams paint stores and are differentiated from our competitors in that way.

ABRN: And NASCAR is a good fit on both these fronts?
NASCAR marries with both identities particularly well. If you think about their ability to run cars at 200 mph-plus safely around so many tracks for such a long season, the expertise is unquestionable. But the access that a sport like NASCAR gives to our employees, our customers, and our prospective customers is really unprecedented in any other major sport. You have the ability to take guests down into pit row on a race weekend and stand with the drivers literally moments before they get into their cars and line up to start the race. It is unbelievable access.

ABRN: How does the loyalty of the NASCAR fan base benefit sponsors?
NASCAR has unprecedented loyalty. We know that the loyalty of fans, particularly in consumer products, is exceptionally powerful. Over half of avid NASCAR fans agree they talk positively about and feel loyal to sponsors invested in the sport. Our market is more business-to-business, so our relationships are with collision shop owners and fleet managers, all the way into the aerospace industry and aviation. And it is a powerful platform there as well. One in three companies in the Fortune 100 is affiliated either with a team or with the NASCAR governing body. That’s a pretty powerful statement that these companies with billions of dollars in brand value tie their brand equity to the equity of NASCAR.

ABRN: You talked about the immense exposure NASCAR can offer a brand. What are some of the other benefits Sherwin-Williams sees?
We activate our partnership with NASCAR in a lot of different ways. The most visible might be in hospitality, and that means bringing customers and prospects to events we host at tracks most weekends throughout the season. We also use the partnership online with our website. It is a great mechanism to drive traffic to our site. We use it in social media. We use NASCAR as a center point in a lot of the promotions we run throughout the year. We even feature NASCAR branding within our branches, and it is soon to be featured on our entire fleet of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes delivery vehicles. We will be activating the brand at every touch point that we can.

What I think NASCAR does really well is how they market their year. They set up four seasons within the year. They are the Season Launch or Road to Daytona, the Race to Green, NASCAR: An American Salute and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. It gives us an opportunity to give a fresh message to our customers and prospects throughout each of those seasons in the year. It is a great chance for us to talk about our brand and the NASCAR partnership throughout the season.

ABRN: Besides branding exposure, is there any type of ‘hands-on’ benefit to the NASCAR experience?
We actively use the facilities of many teams. They are magnificent labs for engineering and design. We use them to demonstrate product, for product research, to host educational events and seminars so that we can connect our brand with the specialization of that team. But most importantly, this helps our customer see the sport from the most intimate view possible and learn about the industry, our products and this partnership at the same time. It can be as simple as social media, or it can go really deep to working in the shops with customers and the teams.

ABRN: What are some of the other initiatives that Sherwin-Williams is doing in partnership with NASCAR?
We’ve just extended our partnership with NASCAR for another three years. But as I mentioned, we spend a lot of energy with the teams. We service them deeply; we embed ourselves in their facilities and it gives us a great opportunity to see our technology being used in the harshest conditions.

We can use them as a lab for the development of green technologies. If you look at how often they change the color schemes on vehicles, we can use them as a lab to experiment with color retrieval technology. We work with them as a place to learn about products as well as to develop our brand platform.

ABRN: Tell me about Sherwin-Williams’ sponsorship of the NASCAR Fastest Lap Award.
Every week we provide a check to the driver and team recognized for their performance in the race. We bring our customers and prospects there to get that up-close experience with the driver and owner in a venue where we can give them an experience they could never get anywhere else.

ABRN: What are some of the opportunities a NASCAR sponsorship can offer at the shop level?
One of the core strategies within our industry every day is how to help a shop owner become leaner in their operations —getting more cars through their production machine in the same amount of time makes them more money. It is a very simple formula, but so complex a practice. If a shop owner can get into one of these race shops to see lean in action, it really can offer ideas that can translate back to their own business.

As I mentioned, we host educational events in shops all the time, and it gives a shop owner a chance to see a different type of lean operation. A race shop may have 20-plus cars on their floor at any given time based on the schedule of events that they run. It is a really complex production system to get the three or four that they are taking to the race track on the weekend optimized, on time, loaded in the trailer, with the right set up for the race track. It is a fantastic visual experience in lean production on really tight timelines. Any shop owner is going to want to get an up-close view of one of these shops. They are spectacular facilities and production lines.

ABRN: Beyond shop management, how can shops capitalize on a NASCAR partnership?
We’ve got a great wearables program that connects with NASCAR. That’s the fun stuff to hand out at any event. But we invite our partners to use our brand and the NASCAR brand in the front of their store. That endorsement that says “Proud partner of NASCAR” is a powerful one to suggest the quality of work you are going to get into a shop.

We bring the relationship into the production shop as well. We see these professionals as critically important to our business. We want to reward them too. One of the best rewards for your production team is to get them to a race or to get them into a race team production environment. We provide those opportunities all the time. We want our customers to use our relationship with NASCAR to reward their customers and employees. It is just a perfect partnership that way.

ABRN: In terms of rewarding the customers, how can shops use the NASCAR HomeTracks Program?
With NASCAR comes a number of different racing levels within the industry. One of the most valuable to us is the HomeTracks Program. HomeTracks is in many ways the minor league of racing, and there are estimated to be 15,000 teams who race. For a shop, it is a great opportunity to connect with these teams and promote to these teams at the most local level. Shops can take their brand to a track and promote and create smaller hospitality events at these venues with employees, customers or family members and reward them for all the great work they do for their business. It is brand activation, team activation, promotional activation to drive engagement and sales. It is a great opportunity for local shop owners.

ABRN: What cars and teams can viewers look for that showcase the Sherwin-Williams brand?
We’ve had contracted partnerships with a number of teams — about three quarters of them — for a long time. It could be major teams like Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing — who are all fantastic Sherwin-Williams partners — all the way down to the local team levels. We want to get our stickers on the cars that are racing around the tracks each and every weekend. We’ve got too many team partners at that level to mention, but our products and brand ends up on the cars and uniforms for a whole host of those teams in those smaller, local venues every single week. It’s a thrill to see them compete and watch a few make it to the top of their sport.

For more information on Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes and its partnership with NASCAR, visit