Monday, October 2, 2023

Spire… Plus? The Story Behind Justin Haley’s Paint Scheme, and Spire’s New Endeavor

(PC: Spire)

Justin Haley’s No. 77 Spire Motorsports Camaro will adorn Spire+ sponsorship in Martinsville this weekend, as the marketing and advertising division begins to make their presence known off the track.

Spire Holdings, the parent company of Spire Sports and Entertainment, is a unique group in today’s NASCAR. Spire holds ownership of two ECHL hockey teams, NASCAR’s Spire Motorsports, and Track Enterprises, one of the largest motorsports promotions companies in the United States. Spire also serves as a consultant for Knoxville Raceway.

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The group’s background and other business ventures help Spire to stand out among the rest of the teams in NASCAR, often led by a handful of ownership partners, or in some cases, even groups with significant ties to one other entertainment sector.

Spire+ is spearheaded by President John Marsh, whose vision is to loosen today’s “buttoned-up” imagery and business practices to show that Spire+ is more than just another marketing agency focusing on its in-house clients.

“When we launched [Spire+], the idea was to not only support these divisions internally but also to bring in external clients,” Marsh explained. “Our external clients are more automotive focused. So, we have a pedigree there, we have a pretty deep Rolodex in the automotive space, and we thought it would be a great place to start mining.”

In early September, Spire Holdings announced the addition of Spire+ to its diverse and elaborate group. The announcement left race fans scratching their heads, wondering what the new addition meant, and even spurring off jokes regarding the use of the “plus” title, often tied to streaming platforms and premium businesses and services.

It was a matter that Marsh understood but also cherished as it got fans and industry folks talking about the addition and what the meaning behind it all meant.

As Marsh explained, “The confusion was probably that Spire is already known in the garage as representing drivers, now all of a sudden we have two teams, and… ‘wait, now they have a marketing company.’ But it makes sense from the inside because Spire+ is there, I think, to help the No. 7 and the No. 77 look at racing differently.”

Marsh admits he is not in racing “100%”, but he keeps a keen eye on NASCAR from a marketing perspective. If Spire doesn’t win on the track, Marsh wants to win off it.

The addition of Spire+ to the Spire Group gives Marsh access to two entries within its future plans, and the described “moving billboard” is an idea that interests Marsh when it comes to promoting the newest member of the Spire family.

Marsh’s idea was to have Spire Holdings co-owner Jeff Dickerson’s daughter Ali design the paint scheme in a move that even caught fellow co-owner TJ Puchyr off guard. The paint scheme encapsulates the groups’ mission to stand out and to deviate away from the norm.

Since its launch, the Spire+ group has been bustling, getting the agency off the ground and into new areas. Spire+ was to initially join the No. 77 at a different race until a sponsor jumped on at the last minute. Lost in the shuffle to Martinsville was a proper paint scheme concept. Then, Marsh saw Dickerson’s daughter, and the idea sparked.

“I said, ‘why don’t we have Ali do it,’‘ Marsh explained to “Everyone laughed.”

But Marsh wasn’t. He was serious about the idea that it drove his co-workers to sit back and begin to toy with the idea.

“It checks a lot of boxes for me,” Marsh said. “It’s fun; it’s intriguing, it’s thought-provoking, it’s playful. That is what marketing is all about; it’s grabbing attention. We could have made this amazing paint scheme, but it wouldn’t have been thought-provoking. I don’t think it would have made any splash that we are trying to make.”

The paint scheme design was placed in the delicate hands of Dickerson’s daughter, who let her imagination run wild. With a giant rainbow on the hood reminiscent of Jeff Gordon’s iconic Rainbow Warrior, to teeth on the front and a hand drawn character on the back, it’s an indirect example of the outgoing and fun nature Spire+ strives to be.

Marsh admitted that he wanted more unicorns on the car to show her creative expression, but the scheme became “busy.”

“We are trying to get people to think in a playful way about us and how we can think about our brand and have fun with it.”

The hood will feature a QR Code that, when scanned, will take fans to the Spire+ landing page online. The page will allow fans to even connect with the brand or potential clients to begin formulating a new partnership between client and host potentially.

When the car was finished, Spire Motorsports captured the moment that Puchyr saw the scheme for the first time. Marsh claims it was the authentic reaction from Puchyr that even involved an expletive.

Dickerson was immensely proud of his daughter’s work, while TJ was reserved at first at the loud design brought forward by such an imagination but eventually grew into the idea.

The Spire Group is looking into a diecast offering from LIONEL Racing, and the group plans to give away shirts that involve Ali’s design that fans will see on track on Sunday.

Fans can see the No. 77 Spire+ Camaro hit the track on Sunday, October 31st at 2:00 PM EST on NBC.

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