And so the saying goes… “nothing in life is free”. Or is it? Something popular amongst automotive enthusiasts is a car sponsorship. It can come in the form of a full or partial sponsorship and generally is marketed to people as a “free car sponsorship”. But what does this mean? We have many customers that read about this online, get confused over what it actually entails, and then ask us if we offer free car sponsorships. We decided we would put something together, and then direct people here as a point of reference to allow them to better understand The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of “Free Car Sponsorships”.
What is a car or truck sponsorship?
So let’s get the basics out of the way. A sponsorship is when a manufacture sponsors you and your car because they believe that you have what it takes to do marketing for them. They believe that if they give you free car parts, that you would put them on your car or truck and then represent them in car shows, tell your friends about them, and talk about them on forums. Basically you are helping to market and advertise them. There’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact, it’s a great way for people to get performance parts for their cars, and a great way for manufacturers to get the word out about them and their products. Race teams are almost always sponsored, and receive money to race and compete, which usually involves using the manufacturer’s parts on your race car in addition to lots of branding in the form of stickers and other advertising.
So what’s the deal with free car sponsorships?
There are a bunch of places out there that lure you in with this phrase. They encourage you to apply for a free car sponsorship to see if there’s a manufacturer who wants to work with you, likes what you have already done with your car, and feels you will be a good fit to be a part of their brand. It’s very tempting. Maybe you go to shows already or maybe you race your car on the weekends at the drag strip or autocross. It would be great to have some free parts if all you need to do is to put a few stickers on your car… right?
Sounds great! What can possibly go wrong?
Here’s where we feel that some of these places take advantage of people. They get you excited that you have an opportunity to get a car sponsorship, and ask you to sign up. When you sign up, they say you will get reviewed. This review process can take anywhere from 24, 48 or 72 hours. Apparently what they are doing is sending pictures of your car, and your list of modifications, to manufacturers asking if they like what they see. Often times, what happens is that they actually don’t send your application to anyone. They reply to you, and they say “Congratulations! You have won a partial sponsorship!” What a partial sponsorship means, is that you will get parts for your car, but you have to pay for them. They say that the partial sponsorship means that while you do have to pay for the parts, they give you a significant discount on them. A customer has told us that the price they had to pay for a part, after their partial sponsorship, wasn’t much cheaper than what they could find online.
Sometimes they offer you a cash sponsorship. The deal is that they will pay you to put stickers and banners on your car. This might be good for some people, but keep in mind that you would need to be contractually obligated to attend a certain amount of shows, or race in a certain amount of races to make sure that the manufacturer gets their money’s worth.
Ok, so this doesn’t sound too bad… I want to try it. Anything I need to look out for?
So far the “bad” listed above isn’t necessarily so bad. The manufacturer is offering you a discount on parts, cash or a combination in exchange for marketing them and their products. Usually this can be a fair exchange. The problem is when this gets advertised as a “free car sponsorship”, since you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket to be a part of a program like this. Might work for some people, and if it does, then you should try it.
What we wanted to warn about, was places that charge you a free to enter your car to get a sponsorship. My nature, sponsorships are supposed to be free.. an exchange of parts for cash for advertising. Be careful of places that charge you money to enter your car and promise that you have the the best chances of winning a sponsorship because you are paying to enter.
Should I do this?
Don’t get us wrong… we’re not saying that all car sponsorships aren’t what they seem. It can definitely work for some people. However, be careful of what you are signing yourself up for. Just know that no one gives out free stuff and expects nothing in return. The point of finding sponsors is that they give you what you need to represent them the way they want to be represented. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not always going to be what it seems. Also, if your car is bone stock or just has a few little mods, it would be way more difficult to get a sponsorship.
What we would recommend is to reach out to manufacturers yourself. Find ones that are local to you. Even find a performance shop that’s in your area. Tell them what car or truck you have, and ask them if they want to use your vehicle to test fit parts on. Usually they need vehicles for parts fabrication and fitment, and they let you keep the parts for free after in exchange for them using your car. Check their websites also… sometimes they have a section called “Vehicles Wanted”. Check their Facebook pages as well, you will usually find them asking for customers with specific cars all the time to test parts on. It’s all out there, you just need to look, and this is indeed free!
Have you ever submitted your car or truck for a sponsorship? How did it go? What was the outcome? Share with us below!