Ford Motor Co. and Discovery Channel have partnered on "Expedition on Everest", which has tracked a Ford-sponsored team of five women climbers as they ascended Mount Everest on the companies' Web sites — and may yield a network TV special.
The deal, which makes Ford the presenting sponsor and co-owner of the coverage, is the latest extension of its continuing "No Boundaries" ad campaign, crafted by the carmaker's agency, J. Walter Thompson Co.
To support the introduction of its lavish 2003 Expedition sport-utility vehicle, Ford began sponsoring daily climb updates on Discovery.com and linking to its own site. Each installment — which has charted the climbers' progress since April — is headlined, "In Partnership with No Boundaries/Ford."
Both parties had considered combined online and cable coverage, but Discovery opted for the Internet as the best choice, said Discovery Networks U.S. senior vice president of ad sales Evan Sternschein.
'VIRTUAL CLIMB' VIEW
The Ford Web deal is "more than banners and buttons," said Discovery Communications Inc. vice president and general sales manager, interactive ad sales Dina Roman.
On Discovery.com, interested users can find a digital-photo gallery, streaming video and some "Interactive Everest" features, including a "virtual climb" with an animated fly-over of the various routes to the summit and a simulation of the effects of altitude on the human body at each checkpoint.
To support "Expedition on Everest," Discovery Health Network runs weekly Newsbreak
vignettes, he noted. Discovery Health, Discovery Channel and Travel Channel are all running co-branded tune-in promos.
An online article dated May 20 reported that the team had ended its climb, so online updates are now focusing on the climbers' descent.
Discovery will continue to provide coverage of the Everest women through June, including a proposed New York media tour early that month, a Ford spokeswoman said.