As players in one of sponsorship’s most active categories, insurance companies face a major challenge breaking through the marketing clutter.

Nowhere is that more evident than in NASCAR, a sport where hundreds of sponsors battle it out every week to have their messages heard.

Farmers Insurance has overcome that challenge by updating a popular souvenir at NASCAR races: driver hero cards.

The company is activating is partnership with Hendrick Motorsports and driver Kasey Kahne with hero cards that support its Thank America’s Teachers corporate citizen program.

Moving beyond the standard images of drivers and their cars, Kahne’s cards feature original artwork by high school students.

“Every team gives out hero cards, and they’re all very similar. We asked ourselves how we could reimagine the norm and tie in our educational initiatives,” said Jared Melzer, Farmers’ senior manager of sponsorship.

To support the program, Farmers partnered with Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, a public high school in Kansas City, Mo. Eighty-five percent of the students’ families fall below the poverty line.

The students are producing a collection of hero cards based on various racing and lifestyle themes, with Farmers and Kahne choosing the winners. Farmers has created three cards and will create three more before the end of the season.

Kahne visited Paseo Academy prior to the May 9 race at Kansas Speedway to talk to students about the importance of education, following dreams and hard work. Farmers treated teachers from the school to a VIP experience at the race.

In addition to the hero cards, Farmers produces 75 limited-edition prints with each piece of artwork. The company distributes autographed prints via weekly contests on the Farmers Racing Facebook page.

Farmers sells the posters in its internal store, with all profits going to Paseo. It also has provided the school with a scanner, drawing tablets and cameras and provided students with gift cards that can be used for educational purposes.

Farmers posts the artwork on a dedicated Tumblr page.

The program has gained media coverage on Fox Sports 1, SirusXM and the Motorsports Radio Network, among other outlets.

Farmers last year leveraged Kahne in support of the “Thank a Million Teachers” campaign. The company promoted the program on the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports car during a May race in celebration of National Teachers Appreciation Week.

The program paid off: awareness of the campaign was 16 percent higher among NASCAR fans than non-fans, while brand opinion and consideration also saw a lift.