As far as federal advertising goes, you have to admit the Federal Communications Commission‘s announcement that it is sponsoring a race car to advertise the mandatory conversion to digital television is pretty creative.

FCC spent $350,000 on the sponsorship that will debut on car No. 38, which will be driven by David Gilliland at the Oct. 19 NASCAR race at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The transition message will also appear on car No. 38 during races on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16.

Given the current economic crisis, which many say  hurts NASCAR’s bottom line, some cynics might view this as a new kind of government bailout. But the real goal of the sponsorship is loftier than that. 

The goal is to let race fans know they might not be able to see the race at home if they’re still using an antenna to get broadcast TV because all signals will become digital on Feb. 17, 2009. The average NASCAR race draws 125,000 fans to the stands and millions of viewers at home.


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