Nextel To Launch Ad Campaign

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RESTON, Va. - Nextel Communications Inc., the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier national series, will launch its NASCAR Nextel Cup Series advertising campaign Sunday. The campaign's first phase, which leads into NASCAR's season-opening race, the Daytona 500, officially introduces Nextel to NASCAR fans, while calling attention to the company's commitment to innovation and high performance technology.

Nextel's new campaign begins airing during the National Football League's AFC Championship game on CBS and continues on NBC prime time and late-night television as well as TNT and SPEED Channel through the Daytona 500, the first race of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, which will broadcast on NBC on February 15.

Daytona 500 drew a record 35 million viewers on NBC's last broadcast in 2002. Nextel will also run the first spot immediately following the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl on CBS. In addition to TV, the campaign will include radio, print, Web advertising, signage in all tracks, direct mail and point-of-purchase material in Nextel Retail Stores.

The campaign includes six new commercials. One spot features one of the sport's biggest stars, Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with 2003 Daytona winner Michael Waltrip. Watching a pro football game, Earnhardt runs from his stadium seat onto the field. Through computer wizardry, his racecar joins the action. Earnhardt scores a touchdown and does spin-out "donuts" in the end-zone.

In another spot, two fans use their Nextel phones with digital walkie-talkie Direct Connect to embellish the truth and shorten a very long concession line. A third spot shows two friends in the racetrack's RV park using Direct Connect to navigate through the masses and meet up. Other commercials planned for 2004 will capture more about NASCAR's history and fans emotional sentiment for the sport over the years.

In replacing 33-year sponsor, RJ Reynolds' Winston brand, which built up NASCAR's championship series and won the appreciation of millions of NASCAR fans, Nextel has a tremendous opportunity and faces unique challenges in marketing its unparalleled connection with a major national sport.

"We want to earn the loyalty of these fans and we appreciate how dedicated they are to the sport. We want to enhance their at track and off track wireless experience any way we can," said Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of Marketing for Nextel.

"Our ad campaign reflects this. For example, against the backdrop of a panoramic view of a NASCAR speedway, one print ad reads: "You buy tickets years in advance. Arrive five days before the race begins. Meet 100,000 new friends every Sunday. You make it more than a sport. You make it NASCAR."

"The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series manifests our commitment to innovation and high-performance technology," Schweitzer said. "So, we're also keeping an eye toward the future where wireless technology and products can truly enhance the NASCAR experience. A key to our early marketing is to establish and build on the relevance between our brand and the sport."

The campaign also reflects the "Nextel. Done" theme by saluting the expertise and hard work of the crews and teams that makes NASCAR happen. Web ads use the theme, "Nextel has the wireless data solutions to get NASCAR done."

Throughout the season, Nextel TV racing spots will run during each of 38 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series races on NBC/TNT and FOX/FX and the SPEED Channel. Nextel ads will also appear on Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN), NASCAR.com, USA TODAY and five NASCAR-licensed racing magazines.

"For the first time ever, the title sponsor for NASCAR's premier national series will be advertising on network television," said NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne. "The creative and authentic approach Nextel is taking will resonate with our fans. Nextel's commitment encompasses the largest continuous TV advertising presence of any NASCAR sponsor in our sport's history. This will help to continue to attract new fans in all corners of the country."

The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series consists of 36 championship points races at 23 tracks in 19 states, including events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Phoenix, Kansas City and Miami. NASCAR is the second most-watched professional sport on television. NASCAR and Nextel announced a 10-year sponsorship agreement last June.

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