There is no doubt that Danica Patrick enjoys a significant fan base, but her new sponsor Nature’s Bakery has decided to take that fandom to a whole new level. This week’s NASCAR Behind the Scenes explores how fans of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet can qualify to be a Danica Patrick fantern.
So, what exactly is a fantern? It is actually a cross between a fan and an intern, a concept developed by Nature’s Bakery Sponsorship Marketing Manager Tyler Key.
“I did come up with that idea,” Key said. “I actually spent the last five years as the Director of Marketing and Activation at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). It was a program that I created at MWR going into the 2014 season and we ran it successfully for over two years.”
“It’s kind of been my baby throughout as I always have the mindset of creating one fan at a time.”
Key also felt that it was also a fit for Danica’s new sponsor Nature’s Bakery, a company founded in 2010 making on-the-go snacks that are delicious, convenient, and healthy. With the company’s tagline of ‘Energy for Life’s Great Journeys,’ the Fantern Program was just the right match.
“I wanted to give these fans a great journey of getting to intern for one race and seeing all the different parts of racing. Everyone sees the action on the track on Sundays but there is so much more that goes into a race day journey, from setting up the pit box to sponsor appearances.”
“I thought it would be a cool experience to share all that with fans and let them share it all with other fans through their social media connections.”
To say that the founders of Nature’s Bakery, as well as driver Patrick, were thrilled with this new fantern notion would be an understatement.
“Our new Fantern Program is a great way to get fans engaged with our new partnership,” Dave Marson, founder of Nature’s Bakery, said. “We’re taking a different approach to our racing program and this is the first of many initiatives we look forward to embarking on.”
“I really like the out-of-the-box approach Nature’s Bakery is taking with our partnership,” Patrick said. “The Fantern program is just one example of what they have in store and I’ll look forward to meeting all the fanterns at the track this season.”
The fantern application deadlines will be rolling throughout the 2016 race year, with the due dates being three weeks before any race where the fan wants to intern. In order to apply, fans have to visit www.NaturesBakery.com/Fantern and either submit their application through a one minute video or through several photos accompanied by a 500-word essay detailing their desire to be Danica’s fantern.
“We’ve received close to one hundred applications already,” Key said. “This is a one day phenomenal experience where you select the race that is closest to you and if you’re selected, we’ve got you covered once you arrive to the track.”
After being chosen, what should fanterns expect as part of their special blending of fandom and internship experience?
“They get a hot pass and they get to bring one guest with them,” Key said. “They will get a fantern prize pack bag that will include a T-shirt, hat and lanyard. It will say #fantern on the back of the bag so they can have that keepsake for the event.”
“The day will start off with them meeting a pit crew member, more than likely the No. 10 tire changer. They will help the crew set up the pit box and they will be able to ask them any questions, which we have found of great interest to fans.”
“And then after that, they will have a VIP tour of the pit, garage areas and hauler. One of the highlights is that the fantern will attend a 15 minute meet and greet with Danica and get to interact with her. We hope they take a picture or two to share on social media.”
“Then they will go and eat lunch with our team. And after that, they will make their way to pit road where they will go out to the starting grid to get a picture with Danica next to the car before heading to the pit box area to watch the race from there.”
“Depending on the guests at the race, we will also try to rotate the fantern up on the pit box during the race, which is another one-of-a-kind experience.”
While the Fantern Program is just one of many unique programs that Nature’s Bakery plans to activate this year as part of their SHR and Danica Patrick sponsorship, it definitely is one that meets the motto of the new sponsor.
“One of our mottos at Nature’s Bakery is to keep it simple and have fun,” Key said. “So, everything we do, we want to try to do that. Being a new sponsor to the sport, we simply want to give back to our fans and let them have fun.”
“This is just one of many ways that we will be involving fans, from sampling our products at the track to taking other journeys with Danica Patrick.”
“But right now, we are definitely putting out the call out for all those Danica Patrick fanterns to get their applications in and hope we see them at the track this 2016 season.”