In 2007, the race series switched to 100% fuel-grade ethanol, making it the first time a racing series had utilized a 100% renewable fuel.
To promote the switch, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) teamed with Broadhead & Co. on the campaign.
EPIC, a nonprofit alliance of ethanol producers and industry leaders, wanted to showcase how effectively ethanol could perform in the most extreme conditions and demanding environments in motorsports.
"We wanted to move ethanol to the mainstream consumer media," says Tom DiBacco, consumer PR lead at Broadhead. "Prior to 2007, ethanol had been confined to the Midwest and agricultural media."
The PR push involved promotion and major press events. Outlets across the US and those attending the first practice session of the season were given a bushel basket containing a t-shirt, a vial of corn, and an "IndyCar Series and Ethanol" media kit.
The 2007 season kicked off with a news conference at the US Capitol. Before the Indianapolis 500 in May, EPIC secured an invitation for racing legend Bobby Rahal to speak at the National Press Club about "The Greening of Racing: Ethanol and Motorsports." Editorials also appeared in papers like The Miami Herald and the Milwaukee Journal.
The ethanol brand was chosen as AgriMarketing's product of the year. USA Today, CBS Evening News, and ESPN ran features on the fuel switch. The effort drew 500 million-plus global media impressions.
The IndyCar Series will again use 100% fuel-grade ethanol in 2008, and EPIC will continue to promote the use of Ethanol in motorsports.
PR Team: Broadhead & Co. (Minneapolis) and Ethanol Promotion Information Council (Omaha, NE)
Campaign: The Greening of Racing
Duration: January to Sept. 2007