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Ford Le Mans Live-Ad

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Insight

With Ford’s three key values being Effortless, Energetic, and Connected, and its brand positioning “We Go Further So You Can” meaning it aims to make all experiences inclusive and attainable, Mindshare set out to bring live motor racing to consumers in a way that had never been done before.

Much of Ford’s brand communication efforts in recent years have been focused on driving sales of individual nameplates, rather than brand building. This has resulted in a key challenge: Ford is a brand that people settle for rather than desire. To overcome this challenge in 2016, Ford needed to drive favourable opinion of the brand. 

Also in 2016, Ford made its return to Endurance Racing, 50 years after it completed a historic 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finish at the most famous endurance race of all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What better way to drive favourable opinion of Ford than activating at the most iconic race event of the year?

European target audience analysis showed a high proportion were interested in motor racing, but less than 2% had attended live motor-racing events. The agency also found that race fans follow motorsport through specialist broadcaster and news sources, and have a high interest in technology.

For the World Endurance Championships, it found online interest and conversation dramatically spikes the week before Le Mans until 24 hours post Le Mans. Le Mans is broadcast in Europe, but is exclusively available to subscribers.

Strategy

Mindshare's strategy was all about providing a greater level of access to motorsport fans, and making the exclusive action of the 24 Hours of Le Mans available to everyone. It needed to work with a partner who could help provide this level of access, and engage the audience in an innovative and exciting fashion. 

It came up with the idea to deliver the first ever 24 hour advert featuring Live Sport. To achieve this, the agency partnered with Eurosport, who are the official European broadcaster of Le Mans and the home of online Le Mans news and updates. 

Live in-car feeds from the four Ford cars were streamed into ad-units on the Eurosport site during the whole 24 Hours of Le Mans event. A “live-ad” featuring 24 hours of sporting action had never been done before.

In line with the insights and Eurosport site data, this activation focused on the period around the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The agency closely aligned its media plans with Eurosport to ensure that Ford’s visibility coincided with peak audience interest and traffic to the Eurosport site for the build-up and during the event itself. 

With so many brands trying to activate around the event, the innovative and stand-out live-ad format was central to the efforts in cutting through the clutter and providing these fans with unprecedented levels of access, through the most relevant partner possible. 

Execution

Mindshare worked closely with Eurosport to create the bespoke and innovative live-streaming ad unit for the site to ensure cut-through during the week of Le Mans.

During the build-up to the event, it collaborated on native articles for the Eurosport site that detailed Ford’s history in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, its comeback in 2016, and teased the in-car feed that would be live during the race itself. Once the race had begun, the live-ads directed users to a dedicated interactive live-feed hub, where they could choose from any of the four Ford in-car cameras to view. A social pinwall kept them updated when inside the hub.

The content and the live-stream hub went live in the core five European markets (UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany), with an up weight in France due to the popularity of the race in that market. All content was translated and agreed with various stakeholders for the individual Eurosport market channels; from call-to-actions on banners, through to titles on the live-stream hub. 

Content and links to the Hub were promoted on Ford, Eurosport, and influencer social channels to ensure the agency was further maximising its reach outside of the Eurosport ecosystem. 

Given the unpredictable nature and technical complexity of delivering a live-stream of a motor racing event, it also had a dedicated cross-partner team running 24 hours of close monitoring during the event to ensure everything ran smoothly.

Nothing was left to chance in an attempt to make the event attainable for all.

Results

Most importantly and in line with the core objective, the campaign had a significant impact on brand positivity. It saw an uplift of +10 percentage points in positivity towards Ford (between the Eurosport audience who saw the Ford activity and those who didn’t). This is an uplift of more than three times the Eurosport benchmark. 

Within the live-stream Hub, there was an extremely strong average dwell-time of 4 minutes 28 seconds, proving users were extremely engaged with the content they were provided access to. 

In total, it delivered 22 million impressions of the live-ad during the week of Le Mans, and achieved a 12% share-of-voice on the whole Eurosport site during this time. The live-ad was viewed uniquely a total of 1.4 million times across all five markets. Average CTR on the live-ad was 1.72%, a 59% improvement against the 0.71% Eurosport benchmark, showing users were also intrigued by the live-ad and wanted to find out more.

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