The Detroit Free Press is reporting that, in an effort to refocus its image, Ford has dumped golf in favor of bull riding.
Ford will abandon its sponsorship of Phil Mickelson, the Ford Championship at Doral, and the Ford Senior Players Championship. In exchange, it has bought a stake in the four year old bull “Super Duty”, which will be entered in the Professional Bull Rider’s Tournament (PBR) as part of the “Built Ford Tough” series.
Mickelson for Super Duty?
I can understand perhaps cutting back on the sponsorships. Maybe they weren’t getting their money’s worth out of Mickelson. And maybe even Doral. But the Ford Senior Players Championship was played in Ford’s backyard at the TPC in Dearborn. And when I say “in Ford’s backyard”, I mean it literally. The TPC Michigan is wedged between the Henry Ford Greenfield Village Museum and Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn—Henry’s hometown.
But golf, it seems, just doesn’t fit into Ford’s self-image as a free spirited, guts-and-glory company. Bull riding, with its eight second bursts of brushes with death, does. Bull riding, it is said, is a growing sport, and is apparently shown on NBC and the Outdoor Life Network.
Lots of automotive companies and brands sponsors golf tournaments and players: Buick (and by extension, all GM brands), Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Chrysler, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, and others I am probably forgetting. Ford doesn’t seem to be worried about being left behind here, though.
The difference, I guess is in the product line. The other car companies are attracted to golf’s upscale audience. Ford wants to sell pickup trucks. It’s also pitching its products at NASCAR and on American Idol.
As a Michiganian, I hope it works out for them. As a golf fan, I think they’re making a mistake—at least in pulling out of the Senior Players Championship.