NASCAR, best known for pushing the speed envelope, has launched a new traffic safety campaign with a sustainable twist. Rather than focusing narrowly on strategies to help drivers to look out for their own lives, the campaign deploys a broad message of taking responsibility for the safety of others. According to a press release launch, the campaign's mission goes far beyond road safety to encourage "personal responsibility for our planet and its people, especially teens."
The mix of racing and planet-saving may seem like an odd paring, but NASCAR has a green track record and other organized sports such as baseball and football have increasingly taken it upon themselves to bring the green message to their fans. In fact, according to NASCAR, racing fans may be at least slightly more receptive to adopting sustainability-related actions than the general public.
Safe driving is green driving
The new campaign makes more sense if you think of it in the context of green driving. The goal of green driving is to be more environmentally responsible behind the wheel by saving fuel and reducing tailpipe emissions, but road safety is a significant secondary benefit of green driving basics: no speeding, tailgating or weaving, and avoiding jackrabbit starts and stops.
It's also a variation on what we at TriplePundit call the "Branch Rickey Test," in which you can get an important message across not by talking about what it means in the abstract, but by putting it into familiar language that relates to the everyday routines of ordinary life.
Young drivers and green messaging
The campaign also starts to gel when you consider its target audience: teenagers. NASCAR notes that the leading cause of death in the U.S for ages 5-24 is motor vehicle crashes, which doesn't sound too promising, but on the other hand teens may be more likely to respond to the green connection, if only because they are more exposed to green messaging than older drivers. They generally receive many of the same sustainability messages that older drivers do and in addition to that they are exposed in school, in extracurricular activities such as scouting, and increasingly in pop culture including films and music.
NASCAR fans and sustainability
NASCAR launched a sustainability campaign several years ago and when it comes to racing fans, the green message is not falling on deaf ears. According to NASCAR, 91 percent of its fans say they recycle at least some times, compared to 87 percent for the general public. In addition, a 2010 study by Simmons National Consumer Survey found that:
NASCAR fans are more likely than non-fans to recycle and describe their households as green. They are also more likely to own electronics and be involved in purchasing decisions at work. Nearly two-thirds of NASCAR fans describe their household as very or somewhat green.
Teaming up for a safe, green message
One of the campaign's spokesmen is NASCAR's Tayler Malsam, who also lends some additional green bang. He is sponsored by G-OIL, a product of the "totally green" lubrication and cleaning product manufacturer Green Earth Technologies so it's no surprise that his racing gear sports a big "Environment Safe" logo.
The other spokesman is Emmy-winning actor Bryton, whom soap opera fans will recognize as Devon Hamilton from The Young & the Restless. Though not a race car driver (unless you count go-carts), Bryton is well known for his philanthropic work which includes founding RADD Kids. The parent organization, RADD (Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes against Drunk Driving) is a partner in the campaign.
Rounding out the effort is NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety), which is the force behind Global Youth Traffic Safety Month in May. The campaign is scheduled to launch in advance of the Daytona 500, which as a showcase for NASCAR's sustainability efforts is the final piece of the green puzzle.
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.