Aaron Rents revs up the motor…

Three years ago, we footnoted about Aaron Rent’s (RNT) sponsorship of two race car drivers who happened to be sons of a senior executive, Bill Butler, Jr. That year, the company spent about $260K on the program, which prompted me to award Aaron’s footnote of the year for 2006.

Fast forward three years to the proxy that Aaron’s filed yesterday. Butler is now the company’s Chief Operating Officer and the Butler boys — KBIII and Brett — are still being sponsored by Aaron’s. In 2008, the company spent $260K to sponsor “the son of the Chief Operating Officer as a driver for the Eddie Sharp Racing team in the ARCA RE/MAX series”. Though the company doesn’t identify which son this was, a quick search shows that it was Ken Butler III, or KBIII.

The filing also notes that this year, the company plans to spend significantly more — $1.6 million for one of Butler’s sons who will be a member of the Robert Richardson Racing Team. According to the team’s site, Butler will pilot the “No. 23 Aaron’s Chevy for 18 races this season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.”

Of course, Aaron’s claims that the marketing benefits it gets from this are significant and worth the expense. Indeed, the company describes it as an “integral part” of its marketing. But then again, would you expect them to say anything else?