Big changes are on the way for race car driver Danica Patrick, who learned that GoDaddy, her long-time chief sponsor and backer, is discontinuing their sponsorship with her after this season.
The change comes as GoDaddy, a global online domain registrar servicing more than 13 million customers in 37 countries, transfers their focus to small business and international markets. They’ve been sponsoring Patrick since 2007 and became her primary backer in the 2010 IndyCar season at Andretti Autosport.
According to USA Today Sports, GoDaddy’s chief marketing officer Phil Bienert said the decision should be observed as the product of a relationship reaching fruition, not stagnation, because “we recognize in the United States we are not really in a brand-building phase anymore.”
Although the company has been methodically moving toward global markets, and took months to evaluate its sponsorship choices, the move away from NASCAR was decisive.
“We were very data-driven about it,” Bienert said. “We actually hired a third party to help us evaluate all our sponsorship dollars, the effectiveness of it. What the data showed was that this platform has been great for us, but where we are right now, it’s time to shift.
“We finally had that data, probably Friday afternoon, then wanted to talk to Danica. We’ve not been sitting on this. We really wanted to do our due diligence for the past couple months or two to get to the right answer.”
Patrick, 33, is in the final year of her three-year contract at SHR after transitioning through the Xfinity Series from IndyCar.
Both Patrick and SHR officials have expressed hope she will return in 2016 to the four-car organization, which is co-owned by driver Tony Stewart and Gene Haas and also fields cars for three-time Cup champion Stewart, reigning champion Kevin Harvick and 2004 titlist Kurt Busch.
Patrick said of GoDaddy that they were an “incredible partner” and said she hoped to continue the relationship.
“I think initially the first thought is ‘bad’ because it feels like it’s going away, but then I have to remember that it’s not really going away for me, it’s just going away in the way that it was,” Patrick said. “I really feel like there’s a lot of good work to do. We’ve really grown up together,” and “It’s not accurate to say this scenario never crossed any of our minds. Sponsorship is tough to come by.”
Patrick was credited by Bienert with helping to grow the company’s brand awareness to 81 percent, domestically.