PHOENIX -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Tim Kuniskis was taking a Formula racing course at the Bondurant Racing School around 18 months ago when he noticed something at the Arizona compound: a can't-miss branding opportunity for Dodge's powerful family of Vipers, Challengers and Chargers.
The Chandler, Ariz., facility, situated on 450 acres in the desert, is a destination for driving enthusiasts around the world with its 1.6-mile road course, 8-acre skills pad, four racetracks and hands-on instructors.
Chevrolet was the school's official sponsor at the time, making the site a branding haven for Camaros and Corvettes clad with "Bondurant" stickers.
Kuniskis wanted in. He's a big proponent of the kind of experiential marketing that spreads virally when people share their adventures on social media, so a high-profile partnership with a premier racing school was right up Dodge's alley.
"I'm looking at all these Chevys, and I'm going, "Wow, all these people that are coming to this class are being trained on these cars,'" recalled Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for FCA North America. "This is subliminal marketing at an unbelievable level. How do I become a part of this?"