Matt Damon narrates new IndyCar campaign to highlight series’ stars

IndyCar
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IndyCar unveiled a new campaign to showcase its stars Thursday, focusing on the speed and inherent danger of the NTT Series.

Using the branding “A Different Breed,” the lead video highlights Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta and Simon Pagenaud.

Against a backdrop of race highlights and driver closeups, narrator Matt Damon (who waved the green flag for last year’s Indianapolis 500 with Christian Bale) says, “Not everyone can do 240 (mph) 2 inches from the ground. From your opponent. From failure. Not everyone wants to wrestle a 1,500-pound animal with no power steering with 5 Gs on the neck and go toe to toe with 20 other daredevils.”

SJ Luedtke, the vice president of marketing for IndyCar, said the goal is to showcase the “audacious athleticism” of its drivers.

“We want to put a definitive stake in the ground on what makes IndyCar unique in the motorsports landscape and the greater sports landscape,” Luedtke told NBCSports.com. “It’s our athletes. We are a sport. We believe it takes a really unique person to grapple with all of that and compete against the most skilled athletes in the world. It takes a different breed of person to do what our guys and gals do.”

The campaign, which was created with Chicago-based agency Schafer Condon Carter, will feature black and white still photography as a contrast to typical branding by IndyCar teams and sponsors. “It helps them look more heroic,” Luedtke said.

The campaign will feature multiple drivers in each spot (another departure from previous series branding that focused on individuals) and highlight its range of age and experience from Dixon, the 39-year-old five-time champion, to Herta, a 19-year-old who became the youngest winner in IndyCar history last year, and O’Ward, a 20-year-old upstart.

“It’s quite different from where we’ve been,’ Luedtke said. “We really want to lean into being a more youthful brand and telling the story of there’s a risk involved. Our competition team continues to make the sport safer and safer, but it is a piece of what differentiates us and our athletes from any other athletes, especially in mainstream sports.”

In another change from past campaigns that featured a seasonlong image or commercial, Luedtke said the promotion will be updated throughout the season depending on relevant developments and storylines.

“This is Chapter 1 to kick off our season,” Luedtke said. “That image is meant to change based on the story we’re trying to tell. Going into the month of May, we may have a whole different group of guys we’re highlighting in our print ads and be cutting another video to tell a different story. We’ll continue to do that iteratively over the course of the season.”