Nationwide goes nationwide

February 23, 2011

I’m as much of a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the next man. But I always got a giggle when I'd hear him on TV pitching Nationwide EN-surance. Until now.

I’m as much of a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the next man (depends on who the next man is, I suppose). But I always got a giggle when I'd hear him on TV pitching Nationwide EN-surance. Until now.

Maybe it’s a regional thing, or maybe it’s just a Dale Jr. thing, but he’d always put way too much emphasis on the first syllable of the word “insurance” — more of an “IN-surance” or even an “EN-surance” than an “in-shoor-ance.”

Now, I’m not one to speak (so to speak), and I still have a few holdovers from my upbringing in Ireland. But I’m not pitching a company coast-to-coast (nationwide!) with a specific regional pronunciation of part of the company’s name and its core product.

Maybe it’s okay, I thought, he’s Dale Jr. He’s talking to NASCAR fans who expect him to be true to himself and his roots. Junior should speak like Junior speaks.

So, during a commercial break in last Saturday’s race (this season’s first in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, uncoincidentally) I was a little surprised — but I’ve got to say, glad — when Junior came on and tried to sell me Nationwide In-shoor-ance.

Verbal branding matters. Even in NASCAR.

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