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DTV ads will take left turn

By Mark Washburn
TV/Radio Writer
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

In a $350,000 deal, a government ad blitz to educate TV viewers about the upcoming digital conversion will roll to NASCAR this weekend.

Decals on the hood of David Gilliland's No. 38 Ford will say “Are you ready for digital?” and a stripe on the side of the car will give the www.DTV.gov Web site.

While the armed services use NASCAR sponsorships as a recruiting tool, the campaign is believed to be the first time a government agency has advertised in motorsports.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin – in Charlotte for a public workshop on the digital conversion that will occur Feb. 17 – said Thursday the expenditure was a good way to reach 8 million race fans “who might not be reached by traditional media outlets.”

Gilliland's car will carry the ads in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series at Martinsville, Va., the Nov. 9 race in Phoenix and the Nov. 16 race in Homestead, Fla. For its money, the agency also gets banners at the tracks with the Web address, and space on Gilliland's helmet and torso, said FCC spokeswoman Mary Diamond. Gilliland will also promote the issue in interviews, she said.

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