Location, Location, Location
Just as different cuts of meat can vary widely in price, so too can the location of a company's logo on a NASCAR racer. The logo on the hood belongs to the primary sponsor, who also gets to choose the car's paint scheme and the team colors. The rest of it is -- you guessed it -- negotiable.
Associate sponsors are responsible for the fields of stickers that sprawl across the fenders and near the windows. Size and placement influence cost, with the quarter panels being the most expensive place to add a logo. Buying that spot, either right in front of or right behind the rear wheel, for a full season costs $1.5 million.
The area called the C-pillar, which is next to the rear window on both sides of the car, is the next most expensive spot. A logo in that area costs about $500,000 a season. The B-pillar, which is probably easiest to describe as the area right next to the driver's shoulder, is the smallest associate sponsorship possible. Those little stickers cost $200,000 for a full season's placement.
Other logos on the car carry on the "in-kind" tradition, like Craftsman, for example. They provide tools for the teams in return for a nice, big logo on the car.
Though it might not seem so, NASCAR is tightening the restrictions on where logos can be placed and how large they can be. In response, product placements are gaining ground at the track. Drivers are paid to swig non-alcoholic drinks (on camera) in the pits after a race, and crew chiefs are paid to mention sponsors' names in interviews.
There's a reason sponsors fork over so much cash. Up next, an exploration of return on investment.