Diageo is to launch a social responsibility national television commercial in the US around its Crown Royal brand's inaugural sponsorship of reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch and Roush Racing's No. 97 race team.

It is the first NASCAR-themed spirits television ad since NASCAR announced it was allowing spirits companies to sponsor race teams.

Titled "Pace Car," the execution features the No. 97 Ford Taurus leading a fleet of automobiles in pace car formation through winding rural, suburban and city streets, eventually ending at a racetrack. The ad is punctuated with a voice over declaring, "Pacing is everything, especially when drinking," and closes with the brand's social responsibility tagline, "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly."

The creative, from Grey Worldwide New York is slated to air on national cable outlets. The ad will be further supported with a multi-tiered marketing platform including on- and off-premise point of sale materials, radio and out-of-home advertising and a public relations program all centred on the responsible consumption of beverage alcohol.

"Our association with proven champions like Kurt Busch and Roush Racing offers Crown Royal a great opportunity to remind devoted adult NASCAR fans about the importance of responsible drinking," said Jerry Knight, brand director, Crown Royal. "The responsible consumption of our products will be the core theme throughout our entire Crown Royal sponsorship."