By: Tanner Watkins
May 22, 2019 | 11:30 AM
During qualifications weekend for this year’s Indianapolis 500, I had the unique opportunity to sit down with Sue Finkam, the director of engagement for Driven2SaveLives. Driven2SaveLives is the primary sponsor of Pippa Mann’s No. 39 Clauson-Marshall Racing Chevrolet, which serves as a campaign to elevate the conversation about organ donation.
In speaking to Sue, I wanted to learn more about the ins-and-outs of Driven2SaveLives, why she feels that motorsport has been the best channel to use when trying to promote organ donation, and how the D2SL team can sustain the momentum they have built since being founded in 2016.
I felt the best way to convey Sue’s message in this case was to post a question-and-answer format to keep her thoughts uninterrupted – so check out my Fast Friday interview with her below and get involved with organ donation!
TW: What has it been like to see the growth of Driven2SaveLives over the last few years?
SF: (It has been) incredibly rewarding and meaningful because we know that success for us means lives saved. So knowing that we’re getting traction and momentum means we have this wave of awareness and support for donation that we didn’t have before. That may mean (for) someone it’s an extra birthday or an extra Christmas that they wouldn’t ever get without a life-saving organ.
TW: In your opinion, why is motorsports such a great channel to drive this cause?
SF: For a couple of reasons. One, when you look at the audience, they’re so incredibly brand and driver loyal. Whether it be anecdotal research where you walk around and you see the t-shirts and the fan loyalty, to actual hard research where you see that fans spend more with the brands that they like and they’re more likely to follow the brand inside and outside of racing.
So when you look at that, we know that basically it’s an audience that’s open to a message – and if they like that message, they’re going to be open to supporting it. That’s one reason we find this attractive.
The other reason is studies have shown that men might be less likely to either register the decision as a donor, or to support donation if their loved one hasn’t registered this decision and they are faced with making that decision.
Since the audience skews (predominately) male, that’s a good target for us. There’s something to it that is so inspirational about racing where you take a group of people who have never come together before now and are chasing a championship and checkered flag.
Our inspirational message aligns with that, and we have to be very particular about who we align our brand with because of what it means. So we have been pretty picky as a result of that, but racing seems to be a good fit.
TW: How do you continue to elevate the conversation of organ donation to keep the momentum from the last few years moving forward?
SF: Well, Tim (Clauson’s team) needs to win (laughter). It’s incremental for us. First of all, I think we have to have a consistent presence over that time period. It is upon us to find compelling ways to tell our story because every year at the Indianapolis 500, you have new fans that come out and our story may not have been heard by them.
It is a consistent presence and a compelling message, and we try to appear bigger than we really are. We’ve challenged ourselves with that with our marketing department from the very beginning.
We also challenge (ourselves) to find unique elements of a partnership, like the opportunity to have Dianna Clauson wave the green flag for qualifying (Saturday) – that is a unique element that is important to us. Here is a donor mom celebrating the gifts that her son was able to give by welcoming the field of 36 to try to qualify.
TW: How instrumental is the Driven2SaveLives’ partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
SF: IMS has been a phenomenal partner – Mark Miles (president of Hulman & Company) and Doug Boles (president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) have both embraced this mission and what our ultimate goal is about and have really tried to work closely with us to make sure that they do everything they can to serve that mission.
It is important to us that we a relationship with IMS beyond (Clauson-Marshall Racing) because it further amplifies our message. The wonderful banner under the Tower Terrace grandstand celebrating Bryan (that tells fans) to come to our activation garage – we pitched the idea of an activation garage to IMS and they were all about it.
They have been very open and have done really unique things with us and frankly, it was their support our mission which allowed us to be a partner with the BC39 (dirt sprint car) race.
Header image by Driven2SaveLives.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.