DEARBORN (WWJ) – Ford thinks action motorsports—rally racing, drifting, etc—are a good way to get on the “radar screen” of younger buyers, the group that the industry calls the millennials. It’s not easy to get these children of baby boomers to consider your product.
“The millennials have a huge BS meter,” says Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service.
Ford hopes to connect with these buyers by sponsoring the X-Games, a yearly extreme sports event, watched by millions of young people every year. They are also sponsoring the teams of action motorsports participants, but only those who were into Ford products to begin with.
It has to be authentic, Farley says.
“That’s what people want to see nowadays,” he said. “They are sick of seeing all the sponsored, paid stuff. They want to know that people want to connect with brands that they would have anyways.”
Video: Ford video explaining their Octane Academy program.
As part of this, Ford is launching a program it calls Octane Academy. It’s a contest where people who are into action motorsports produce a video that tells the story of “what they have to survive a weekend of on and off road challenges.”
The winners get to go to an action motorsports family camp.
Relating to young buyers doesn’t happen overnight.
“Ford was off the radar screen for a lot of customers,” said Farley, who told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert that the new fiesta subcompact has put Ford back on many buyers radar.
Farley says Ford will continue working to connect with young buyers, while still holding on to traditional motorsports sponsorships like NASCAR. But, he says, these are not venues to sell vehicles. They are venues to build relationships.
“I think customers are so smart nowadays,” he said. “They’re not going to go out and buy a car because we won the Daytona 500.”
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