Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The Dallas-Fort Worth automotive market has become extremely competitive in the past few years. Total ad spending by the category has grown 7 percent to $103 million from 2002 to 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Spot TV spending alone is at $71.6 million. As a result, Fox Sports Net is positioning itself as the network that can deliver the male demographic that auto dealers covet.
“The automotive marketplace has become very clustered and it isn’t enough to have three 30-second units in a Mavericks game like everyone else and an in-game feature like the out-of-town scoreboard brought to you by …,” said Dennis Flaherty, sports marketing director for J. Walter Thompson in Dallas, which handles national and regional advertising for Ford Motor Co. “We want to elevate ourselves above our competition.”
With that goal, Ford’s advertising team approached Fox Sports Net Southwest for a solution to targeting 35- to 54-year-old “difficult-to-reach males.”
Teaming with the 24-hour basic-cable television regional sports network is a good move, given that area residents are avid sports fans. After all, Dallas has several professional sports teams, including the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers and Stars-at least one for every major sport. On top of that, Scarborough Research revealed that automotive dealers just may find some viewers of these games the perfect target. Scarborough data as analyzed by Fox Sports Net shows that adults 18-plus in Dallas who watch Mavericks basketball on cable are 24 percent more likely to buy a new vehicle in the next 12 months than is the average adult in Dallas. They are also 73 percent more likely to earn a household income of $150,000 and up.
With research in hand, Fox Sports Net, which serves 36 designated market areas in the Southwest, including Dallas, responded to Ford by offering the auto manufacturer title sponsorship of the pregame news under the header “Ford Game Time Tonight.” There also is “Ford Southwest Sports Tonight Game Time,” a pregame show that airs whenever there is an event with a regional news element, said Jon Heidtke, Fox Sports Net Southwest senior VP, general manager. “They have spots within the show and a featured element too,” he said.
But the television advertising doesn’t end with product placement and brand incorporation. The 38 Ford dealers in the Dallas-Fort Worth market have participated in retail opportunities with Fox Sports Net to help drive foot traffic to their locations.
Contests, Promotions
The “Ford Racing Night” sweepstakes required consumers to register at any participating North Texas Ford Dealer location for a chance to win one of several prizes. Prizes included two tickets to the Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings game April 1 and tickets to a NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. Beyond that, some winners were able to compete elbow-to-elbow in an on-court basketball shooting contest against Ford NASCAR drivers for a chance to receive home playoffs tickets for the life of the basketball team.
North Texas Ford dealers aren’t the only ones playing ball with Fox Sports Net. To correspond with the launch of its Titan truck line, Nissan sponsors the “Titan Player of the Week.”
Through the Nissan Southwest Football Saturday promotion, viewers were able to vote on the Big 12 players of the week, and ultimately the Titan Player of the Year. There is also the “Nissan Southwest Outdoors Report,” a weekly 30-minute show devoted to fishing and outdoors news that carries a “Titan of the Week” segment showcasing the biggest catch of the week based on photos submitted by viewers.
“What we are trying to do is sell the uniqueness of our network,” Mr. Heidtke said, “and give the advertising community a unique way to tell their story, customized by market.”