SBJ/November 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

Ford goes for that championship feeling

When Homestead-Miami Speedway and Ford, the sponsor of NASCAR’s season-ending weekend, set out to create a big-game atmosphere, they studied the biggest game of them all — the Super Bowl.

Ford’s three race title sponsorships at Homestead give it a unique season ending platform.

Ford Championship Week
Ways NASCAR’s season-ending week has modeled itself after Super Bowl Week

Concerts
Foghat will play at Racefest; Creedence Clearwater Revisited (the old CCR minus John Fogerty) will play after DriveZone. A handful of Latino bands will play throughout Saturday leading up to the Busch race.
Media hotel
Ford and Homestead worked with the Doral Golf Resort and Spa to establish a media headquarters, something NASCAR had never done before.
Fan-friendly events
The Super Bowl has the NFL Experience, a collection of interactive displays to enhance the fan experience, and Ford has added that component to Racefest. Drivers also will make appearances to sign autographs.
VIP parties
Speedway President Curtis Gray called this a point of emphasis for 2007.

The result is Ford Championship Weekend, a Super Bowl-like buildup of activities that include everything from events at the racetrack to concerts, parties and other fan-driven events away from the track.

“We just come in and take the place over,” said Burt Diamond, Ford Racing’s global marketing manager. “Each year, we’re trying to expand the length of the week and its impact, both for ourselves and the community. The goal is to add more and more.”

Ford’s naming rights for the season-ending Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck races at Homestead Nov. 17-19 are all part of the automaker’s largest sponsorship in terms of length and, in all likelihood, expense, Diamond said.

Ford’s sponsorship with Homestead and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., runs through 2009 with an automatic extension through 2014. Industry insiders say that Ford will spend nearly $25 million for the five years of the contract from 2005-09.

In addition to purchasing the title rights to three races, Ford obtained official car, truck and pace car status, significant signage around the track and through the concourse areas, rights to use the track throughout the week and other periods during the year, suites and tickets.

Ford also put its name on Race-
fest, a Thursday evening (Nov. 16) fan event on the closed-off streets of Fort Lauderdale, as well as a dance contest — “Dancing for the Cup” — that visits four Latino dance clubs and two university campuses. It also uses the Wednesday of race week to introduce new car models to the public for test drives, called DriveZone.

“We plan for this week all year,” Diamond said.

Part of that planning included an examination of Super Bowl week. Ford and Homestead came away with certain elements they thought worth importing from the NFL’s big event.

Ford uses three agencies and roughly 75 people on the ground to pull off the week, Diamond said. PCGCampbell Marketing leads the PR support, DriveZone, Racefest and at-track hospitality; JWT is the ad agency; and Experience handles the nuts and bolts of the Turn 1 display at the racetrack that features vehicles and interactive displays.

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