Stewart-Haas Racing: Danica Patrick provided $11.5M to Nature's Bakery

Nature's Bakery, which paid Stewart-Haas Racing $15 million to sponsor Danica Patrick in 2016, received almost $4.5 million in television news exposure and almost $7 million in estimated internet media exposure in the first year of the sponsorship, according to SHR.

The worth of sponsoring Patrick was detailed in a letter sent by SHR to Nature's Bakery in December 2016 as proof that Patrick provided benefits to the company, which in January terminated the three-year deal after one season.

The letter was part of a court filing Thursday in SHR's lawsuit against the fig bar company. SHR seeks $31 million for the final two years of the deal, while Nature's Bakery claims SHR "did nothing other than collect Nature Bakery's money" and Patrick's endorsement of protein products voided the deal.

Patrick finished 24th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings in 2016 and didn't have a top-10. Yet her value to the sponsor ranked her among the top drivers in the sport, according to SHR.

It cites an MVP Index report that found Patrick generated the fifth most impressions for Nature's Bakery of any brand in NASCAR from January through August 2016 and her sponsor integration on social media platforms was higher than that of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Nationwide, Brad Keselowski and Miller Lite, and Kevin Harvick and Jimmy John's.

It also said in less than one year, 70 percent of NASCAR fans surveyed associated Nature's Bakery with Danica Patrick -- compared to 74 percent associating Busch beer with Kevin Harvick, who had been sponsored by Budweiser from 2012-2015 and then Busch in 2016.

The letter also states that while Patrick sponsor TaxAct ran a three-month promotion that generated 70,000 entries, a pair of Nature's Bakery promotions (one a 10-month promotion, the other a four-month promotion) yielded 50,300 entries. SHR said other companies had superior activation and retail partnership campaigns.

The filing, which cites TVEyes for the television news value and Meltwater clipping service for the internet exposure estimate, was SHR's response to the counterclaims that Nature's Bakery filed last month in North Carolina Superior Court. SHR claims it fulfilled or exceeded its obligations under the contract signed in July 2015 and that anyone at that time could have done a Google search or looked at Danica Patrick's website to know she endorsed a protein powder.

Nature's Bakery claims it was told to expect a 4-to-1 return on investment, but "as it turned out, SHR's promises were illusory and misleading. There was no massive increase in sales. NASCAR viewership was retreating. The team had other significant operational problems. SHR lacked the ability to control Patrick's performance under the agreement."

In response to Nature Bakery's claim, SHR stated that "If Nature's Bakery] failed to experience an increase in sales in 2016, it was due to their own internal and operational difficulties and/or their failure to effectively leverage the sponsorship in the most impactful way."