CIRENCESTER, UK – Mitsubishi, Land Rover and SsangYong literally are increasing their horsepower in Europe.
The four-wheel-drive specialists are using equestrian competitions to reach customers in the UK, Holland and Italy.
Mitsubishi Motors UK has sponsored one of the UK’s premier equestrian events, the Badminton Horse Trials, for 13 years and plans to continue doing so through 2007.
During the next two years Mitsubishi will spend more than £2 million (E2.9 million) on the event, its largest single expenditure accounting for up to 15 percent of the company’s promotional budget (excluding advertising).
Jim Tyrrell, managing director of Mitsubishi Motors UK, called the competition a “strategic event for us as a brand and as a distributor of 4x4 vehicles.”
Since the event is telecast throughout Europe, Tyrrell said, the total exposure is incalculable.
Said Hugh Thomas, the director of the Badminton trials: “What is most telling is that [other automakers] have seen Mitsubishi’s success here and have got involved in other events as a direct result. The next biggest UK equestrian event, Burghley, is now sponsored by Land Rover, and SsangYong is sponsoring a similar event at Chatsworth.”
Mitsubishi’s sales arms in Holland, Italy and Germany also sponsor horse events.
Land Rover will use the Burghley sponsorship to complement the introduction of new
products such as the Range Rover Sport and Discovery this year.
Korean automaker SsangYong will sponsor the annual trials in Chatsworth, in central England, for the third straight time this year.
Robert Barris, managing director of SsangYong UK Cars, said the connection to the competition has helped boost the carmaker’s image and has served as an example for sister sales operations in Europe.
“Our Dutch company also has involved itself with equestrian events, and our SsangYong Motor Co. parent has provided all export markets with information on what we do in UK,” Barris said. “Korea sees this as an example of best practice for below-the-line promotion.”