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Ford’s Derby Weekend To Spotlight Lightning — And Ford Workers

Ford entrepreneurs had been excited to land unique automotive sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby three years in the past, in an period of dwindling alternatives to make main impressions on viewers with advertising and marketing throughout a massively attended, live-TV occasion. Then Covid hit in March, 2020, delaying the race to September. And final yr, the Derby confronted decreased in-person attendance and scandalously noticed eventual disqualification of the successful horse after a drug take a look at.

Sprint forward to this yr: Ford is within the third yr of its relationship with the star-crossed Derby and at last capable of deploy the form of all-out effort the corporate has been hoping to show in live performance with the occasion. When the gates elevate and 20 thoroughbreds dash out at about 7 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ford executives count on to be within the midst of a broad and well-orchestrated marketing campaign that takes full benefit of its sponsorship.

“When we knew we were going to have this sponsorship, we wanted to look at it differently and extend it differently,” Jim Peters, Ford’s head of U.S. sponsorships and partnerships, instructed me. “This is the first year it’s happening in a unique way, because of what Covid did, and it’s an exciting time to celebrate.”

Even in simply the final couple of years since Ford’s sponsorship started, Peters mentioned, “there have been lots of innovations in the sponsorship business, including a lot of virtual events and activations. But something like the Derby is a hard thing to recreate.”

So, for one factor, Ford plans to make use of NBC’s broadcast of the Derby to launch its new TV and internet marketing marketing campaign for the F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup truck, arguably the corporate’s most fun and even provocative new mannequin in a long time. The Lightning marketing campaign is utilizing a standard method that includes themes of worker toil and teamwork in an anthem-style TV industrial, however Ford is also deploying a whole lot of assets on-line to advertise particular options of the automobile, particularly its on-board generator and its under-the-hood spacious “frunk,”

Developed by Wieden + Kennedy, the marketing campaign options spots which might be narrated by Bryan Cranston, the actor who’s been the voice of Ford commercials for a number of years now, and options workers assembling Lightning on the firm’s new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan.

At the identical time, the slicing fringe of Ford advertising and marketing additionally can be on show within the Derby sponsorship. For instance, through the TV broadcast, NBC will deal with particular person Ford workers in what’s being referred to as a Very Important Builders space at Churchill Downs, with front-row seats on the first flip. These employees could be thought-about natural to the gang as a result of Ford builds massive SUVs and heavy-duty pickups at a plant in Louisville.

“We’re going to do a cool integration with the NBC team, and it will feel like part of the broadcast,” Peters mentioned. “It will celebrate what ‘Builders’ is all about, spotlighting the names” of some Ford employees as in its new advertisements for Lightning. “Usually the people spotlighted in the crowd are celebrities, and the talk is about fashion. This is not usually the type of thing people would be called out for [in Derby coverage], but we’re going to.”

Ford is also getting a head begin on the telecast by launching some content material about Lightning and “Builders” on TikTook. “Broadcast is very important, but the really great opportunity to amplify the campaign is in social media,” Peters mentioned. “That’s where all of the buzz goes on. With an event like the Kentucky Derby, you’ll get a certain number of people watching it for the race, but there will be buzz around pre- and post-race coverage. We’re working that social angle this year.”

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