Courtesy of RACER
Cooper Tire and the Mazda Road To Indy program, consisting of the ladder series Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, and USF2000, have teamed up for an inaugural social media hashtag program showcasing driver- and team-generated content throughout the entire 2014 racing season.
The program – which hinges on drivers and teams utilizing the #TeamCooperTire hashtag among others on Twitter and Instagram — produces behind-the-scenes content for fans of the future stars of IndyCar. The incentive for teams and drivers is simple: participate in the program, and win free race tires for the next event.
The program features challenges and impression-count bonuses to keep the content engaging throughout the season. Challenges in the first contest period have ranged from taking a photo at a Sunoco station (Sunoco is a partner of the Mazda Road To Indy initiative) to posting a photo with “Flat Johnny,” a cutout of former IndyCar driver and Cooper Tire spokesperson Johnny Unser.
“The goal is to keep an all-encompassing focus: the series, the drivers, the partners, and the fans,” says Casey Ackerman, program director for the hashtag marketing campaign. “This is not just a Cooper Tire initiative. The implementation of this hashtag program stimulates every facet of the Mazda Road To Indy ladder, making it a win-win for all parties involved.”
Ackerman says that digital programs such as these make young drivers more marketable to potential sponsors. “Our goal is to prepare them for the next level. Social media isn’t going anywhere, and if they make themselves more recognizable and grow their fan base with a program like this, it helps these young drivers more enticing and popular to sponsors and fans, respectively.”
Heading into the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the efforts of Indy Lights driver Gabby Chaves currently have him in the lead in the program, with drivers such as Matthew Brabham (Indy Lights) and Michele Bumgarner (Pro Mazda) close on Gabby’s heels. Teams such as Andretti Autosport and Fan Force United round out the top five, since drivers and teams alike can compete.
Not only can the winners collect free race tires each contest period, but according to Ackerman, they can also pick up MRTI merchandise and even a set of street tires to give away to their fans on social media.
“There obviously has to be a fan element to this other than providing content. A direct connection between the drivers and fans is crucial.”
The first contest period ends after the Grand Prix of St. Pete, with a new contest being launched around the Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Alabama.
Fans are also encouraged to participate in the program by taking photos on Instagram and Twitter utilizing the #TeamCooperTire hashtag. Winners will be selected at the end of April to receive a free set of Cooper Tires.