When 78 percent of your audience owns at least one truck, as is the case with History’s viewers, it’s logical that the network would devote an entire weekend of programming aimed at that sizable audience demo.
So this weekend, History has teamed with Ford F-Series to produce six hours of truck-themed programming—three hours on Saturday night and three on Sunday—in a partnership it is calling “Truck Weekend in America.”
The programs, all of which feature Ford vehicles, contain a mix of “established shows and franchises,” like Truck Night in America and American Restoration, and one-off specials, including a look inside Ford’s factory, said Peter Olsen, evp of ad sales, A+E Networks.
“Truck Weekend in America” also includes Ford ads and branded content woven into each night’s programing block, and Ford spots will be featured on History’s digital and social channels.
The deal has been in the works since spring 2017, as A+E Networks explored a content partnership that “focused on the power and importance of the truck to America,” Olsen said.
Given that 78 percent of History viewers own at least one truck, “there’s clearly a tremendous match between our audience profile and what’s so important to Ford and their business,” Olsen said.
Ford, meanwhile, was drawn to the “ambition” of the project and the “synergy” between its audience and History’s, said Patrick Leitch, truck integrated marketing communications manager at Ford.
Both nights kick off at 8 p.m. ET with episodes of the network’s Truck Night in America, which showcases a competition between truck owners. Saturday programs include Truck Hunters (a pair of top top truck builders restore and put their stamp on two classic vehicles) and Born Tough: Inside the Ford Factory (a look at how F-150 trucks are built at Ford’s Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Mich.).
Sunday’s lineup features American Restoration: Truck Edition (a 1956 Ford pickup is restored), Trucks Transformed: Custom Culture (a look at truck customization) and Rescue Trucks (which follows first responders and their custom trucks).
As Ford worked with History to produce the shows, “we started from an overall strategy of making sure that we were voicing that Ford trucks are built around the customer from the ground up,” which echoes the brand’s “Built Ford Proud” messaging, Leitch said. After Ford presented its ideas to each show’s executive producers, “we let them run with them.”
But History stressed that “Truck Weekend in America” isn’t just six hours of Ford branded content.
“Ford’s an important part, but it’s really the story of trucks in America,” said David DeSocio, svp, ad sales marketing and partnerships, A+E Networks. “It goes broader than just Ford vehicles. Our programming team felt that was important.”
In addition to the shows, Ford will air traditional 30-second spots and custom content. Other brands will also air ads during the programs, but Ford will have auto exclusivity on both nights.
Shorter branded content segments, featuring History talent, will connect each program in the block. In one 30-second CGI spot, a F-150 is built around Forged in Fire host Will Willis.
Both History and Ford said they hope to continue the programming partnership beyond this weekend.
“This model is extremely scalable to short form, to hours, to entire series. It’s somewhat unlimited when you find the right intersection,” Olsen said.
Ford would “absolutely” be up for another “Truck Weekend in America,” Leitch said. “It is definitely a model we are going to examine going forward.”