Sponsorship as part of the marketing mix
A Ford case study

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Page 6: Promotion

Ford imageFord employs a pan-European promotional strategyto draw attention to its products and services. The purpose of this is both to attract new customers and to retain existing ones.

Ford's promotional strategy must first create awareness of the company's product range. Promotion must reach target audiences that might be geographically widely spread.

A crucial aspect of Ford's promotional tactics is to develop the image of the company, rather than specific products. Ford develops a reputation as a manufacturer of quality, size, strength and vitality. The 'Destination Football' campaign serves to associate the Ford brand with passion, drive, desire, success, speed, movement and youth.

Marketingspecialists sometimes refer to promotion 'above-the-line' and 'below-the-line'. Above the line promotion occurs through independent media, such as the press or television. These external media are usually used to carry advertising messages from firms like Ford. Below the linepromotion uses methods that are not controlled by external agencies. This includes salespromotions, exhibitions and direct mail shots.

Promotion is therefore far more than just advertising. Ford uses below-the-line promotions by exhibiting vehicles at events and exhibitions; engaging in online promotions as well as direct mailing of customers. There is also a good deal to be gained from public relations(PR).

For Ford, promotional options are changing. TV advertising used to be the dominant above-the-line promotional tool used by the powerful corporations who had the resources. Today with more and more TV channels available, this communication method is becoming increasingly fragmented. TV audiences are able to tune in to multi-channelalternatives and satellite TV and digital freeview set top boxes are accelerating this trend.

For marketing executives seeking the most effective forms of promotion, technologyis affecting the value of TV advertising. People can now record programmes for viewing later and skip the adverts easily. Mass audiences are no longer tied to specific, one off, broadcasts. People will shortly be able to download programmes on to hand held devices. Will adverts have the same effect? With this trend, the ability through sponsorship to become part of the television programming itself, and not just part of the advert break, is even more important.

Ford's Champions League sponsorship has the advantage that it is an all-tactic promotional vehicle. The campaign contains both above-the-line and below-the-line components.

During matches broadcast live across the world, TV adverts for Ford products can be shown. The Ford brand and specific products aimed at local markets are emphasised before a match, at half-time and immediately afterwards. Ford can commission poster campaigns promoting the games as well as their products; press adverts can do the same.

At the matches, Ford's presence on the pitch in the form of perimeter boards means that the Ford brand is almost part of the game itself, and Ford can promote its brand message strongly for the full ninety minutes of the game. On TV the 'idents' which top and tail the match programme into and out of the advertising breaks provide another opportunity. Here Ford can promote a specific brand message targeted to the football audience who regularly switch on for Champions League matches. These are all 'above-the-line' tactics.

The Champions League connection can help to generate below-the-line promotion too. At the stadium as fans arrive for a match, shoot-out zones and five-a-side games are an opportunity for Ford to promote its association with the tournament. PR is gained by offering young children the chance to participate in the pre-match ceremonies.

Ford | Sponsorship as part of the marketing mix