SAN FRANCISCO - The latest installment in Professional Rally Driver Ken Block’s wildly popular Gymkhana video series DC Shoes: Ken Block’s Gymkhana FIVE: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco has accumulated more than 24 million views on YouTube since it debuted July 9.
It is great news for the trend-setting Block and amazing publicity for the 650-horsepower Ford Fiesta HFHV (Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle) he stunt-drives in the video.
But what you may not realize is that Gymkhana 5 also represents a huge boost for the all-new Ford Focus ST – which Block used to officially scout the location in San Francisco before shooting the final video.
“We gave Ken a Focus ST to use when he was driving the streets of San Francisco building the story around what Gymkhana 5 was going to be and what roads they were going to use,” explained Scott Denby, manager, Ford Racing Action Sports. “Integrating the Focus ST into something like Gymkhana really helps us get a running start and really supercharge awareness for the ST brand.”
At the end of the Gymkhana 5 video, Block shows a couple of shots of the Focus ST, thanks Ford and asks people to “check out the all-new 252-horsepower Ford Focus ST” on Facebook. He also created a “behind the scenes” YouTube video for Gymkhana 5 that prominently features the Focus ST.
Since the Gymkhana 5 video debuted on YouTube, Ford ST Facebook fans have increased by 85%.
That kind of exposure is priceless, particularly considering the nature of the small performance car market in the U.S., says Lee Jelenic, Car Communications manager.
“When your product has a cameo in a video as popular as Gymkhana and you’ve got other assets like Ken Block posting on his blog, you’re gaining access to millions of fans and followers,” said Jelenic. “It has a huge impact and it is very organic in nature.”
According to Jelenic, the “hot hatch” segment is a niche market where traditional forms of advertising are typically not impactful.
“These consumers know so much. They know more than most of the dealers and sales consultants and even more than some of our Marketing people,” he said. “So word of mouth and conversation among them is the highest form of advocacy we could hope to achieve.”
In addition to the integration in Gymkhana 5, Jelenic says the team has been preparing a series of what he calls “content meals” to launch the Focus ST, which is now available to order.
“It started back in May with the production of our first-ever spectator-generated television ad, which was a race in the streets of Key West with Tanner Foust and Greg Tracy. Then we had some activations at key events like the X Games in Los Angeles,” said Jelenic.
The goal, he says, is to generate awareness, credibility and conversation.
“Ultimately everything we’re doing will be judged by these niche consumers in the court of social media,” said Jelenic. “And if they’re sharing our content and they’re engaging with it and talking about it then we’re succeeding because that means the product will have a high degree of acceptance among a crowd that is very critical and difficult to please”