NASCAR wraps up its 75th-anniversary celebration with the third and final chapter of its “Always Forward” campaign, bringing a heart-warming conclusion to the film trilogy that explores the sport’s past, present, and future.
Co-created with its long-time agency partner 77 Ventures Creative, “Zuri” is the story of a young girl who is “just” a fan today but has big dreams of becoming a NASCAR superstar of tomorrow. The 30-second spot debuted on TV this past weekend during the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway. Brimming with emotion and excitement, the film captures both the magical feeling of childhood dreams and the high-octane thrill of the racetrack.
With a deep reverence for the sport’s history, the films in the “Always Forward” campaign have remained true to the nostalgic elements fans have come to love. Previous films in the campaign include “Anthem,” which showcases NASCAR’s past and imagines beloved footage with modern coverage as seen through historically accurate cameras of the time. In representing the present, “Roads” includes archival footage and the voiceover of one of NASCAR’s most prominent figures, Dale Earnhardt Jr., as it highlights today’s star drivers’ unique journeys and shared aspirations. In the last ad commemorating NASCAR’s diamond anniversary, “Zuri” encapsulates what fans see now, then hones in on the one fan narrating the film: a little girl imagining herself behind the wheel. The confidence young Zuri exudes in articulating her aspiration as one well within her reach underscores NASCAR’s bright future and wide welcome to anyone with a passion for racing.
The 75 car, as seen throughout the other films from “Always Forward,” takes focus in this film as well, steering through black and white or grainy scenescapes of fans, finally crystallizing in higher resolution and full color when the film’s hero realizes her dreams of becoming a NASCAR racer. Her cherubic and daring voiceover is ever-present, with “Zuri” ending in, “See, today? I’m a fan just like you. But, tomorrow? Tomorrow… Well, you’ll see,” as the little girl’s future self zooms ahead on the racetrack.
As an extension of the campaign, the “Next Gen” 75 car that appears in all three of the “Always Forward” films has made its grand tour around the country, showing up at races, on Wall Street, and at one point being the focal point of a VR installation. At every turn, fans enjoyed the car up close, a personal touch from NASCAR and the team at 77 Ventures Creative as a tribute to the fans who have made the sport what it is today.
“When we came across this idea of the 75 car, it felt very natural for the sport,” says Doug Hanshaw, executive creative director at 77 Ventures Creative. “Numbers have always existed with these cars and are such a big part of the sport, and obviously, 75 is a very important number. So, those were the guardrails. It had to be something fairly simple that would translate well to these different territories,” he elaborates, speaking of the 75 car’s tour of the country.
“NASCAR introduced the innovative new Next Gen car in 2022 to fortify the future of the sport, leaning on decades of learnings along the way, so it was a perfect symbol to carry us through each phase of this campaign,” added Pete Jung, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Having Zuri behind the wheel of that car to close it out felt like a really powerful way to cement the bridge between the past, present, and future, and reinforce what NASCAR is committed to building from here.”
“Zuri” will air alongside the official NASCAR Playoffs marketing campaign throughout the duration of NASCAR’s 10-week postseason. The NASCAR Playoffs begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway, and fans can tune in to the NASCAR Cup Series Cookout Southern 500 this Sunday, Sept. 3 on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.