Saturday, October 11, 2008

Multicultural Marketing with Marc Perry - SportsBusiness Journal Clips

Sponsor Logic - SportsBusiness Journal Clips

Sponsorship consultant Mel Poole recently spoke with Marc A. Perry, multicultural marketing manager with Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, about the automaker’s use of hip-hop, comedian Steve Harvey and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament to help reach African-American consumers.

What is Ford’s view on multicultural marketing?

Perry: Multicultural marketing is really target marketing. We recognize that the marketing landscape has changed faster than the coloring of America. My responsibility is to reach African-Americans with a relevant message that resonates in the community. For example, our focused vehicle strategy regarding the F-150 pickup, which skews towards men. We know that African-American men are interested in F-150s. And we’ve engaged the most popular hip-hop DJ in New York City, Funkmaster Flex, to help bring buzz to the market around the F-150. The same with our relationship with Steve Harvey. These are good examples of relationships we have that deliver a message to the market that resonates with the prospect group. We also use other means, such as our Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament sponsorship and Ford’s “Step Up” TV spot that runs on TNT during NBA games. The spot puts the F-150 in a positive light, contributing to the success of an urban neighborhood.

Are there key marketing activities that differentiate cultural marketing from mass marketing?

Perry: Ford has a marketing outreach that leverages sports associations with events that are heavily attended by African-Americans, such as the CIAA tournament in Charlotte. We also leverage our relationship with Funkmaster Flex in many ways. Flex is a cool car guy, and he crosses over into areas where the Ford oval can’t go by itself. He makes our brand cool. One new TV programming concept that will begin on Saturdays on ESPN2 at the end of May is called “Car Wars,” where different shops will compete with each other to customize our vehicles.

Considering advertising, sponsorship, events, direct mail, promotion, radio, Internet, print, etc., are some marketing tools more effective than others for multicultural marketing?

Perry: The right combination of those tools is the most effective, depending on our assets and targets. Radio has been a real standout for Ford. For example, our great relationship with entertainer Steve Harvey. We sponsored Steve’s radio telecast from the CIAA tournament. His show is great and people love it. (Note: “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” is No. 1 among urban stations nationally, and it’s the fifth-most-popular radio show in New York City.) During the show, Steve talks about Ford products. … At the CIAA, we also had product displays in the convention center adjacent to Bobcats Arena, and Steve’s radio show helped draw attention to those, too.

In multicultural marketing, how does a company demonstrate an affinity for the lifestyles and interests of a prospect group without crossing the line into pandering?

Perry: A lot of it has to do with Ford’s strategic planning area. They do a good job of staying current with our target prospects’ passion points. The creative work of our cultural marketing agency UniWorld Group also is tested in many ways, including against the mass market, to make sure it isn’t offensive.

Can you cite some examples of Ford’s success stories in multicultural marketing?

Perry: CIAA is a paramount program for Ford that’s grown into a very valuable property for us. When the tournament moved to Charlotte in 2006, we stepped up to the Ford Finals Night on ESPN, a fully integrated block party and other events that we’re able to really blow out. ... A big part of our success at the CIAA is due to Ford’s relationship with the Urban Sports & Entertainment Group in Charlotte. They’ve helped us do a lot of good things at the CIAA because they understand the African-American market and how to reach African-Americans through sports and events.

Mel Poole ( is the author of “The Sports Sponsorship Solution,” scheduled to be published this year by Elsevier Inc. He is president of sponsorship consulting firm SponsorLogic Inc.

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