Ford in First Imax Sponsorship

DALLAS Ford Motor Co. said it wasn’t looking for product placement when it agreed to sponsor its first Imax movie, but the opportunity presented itself in a film about cowboys premiering in June.

Ride Around the World by Trinity Films of Austin and Fort Worth, Texas, traces the 1,000-year evolution of the horse-and-cattle culture from Morocco to the American West.

Locations used in the film include the legendary Four Sixes Ranch in northwest Texas, where ranchers use a significant number of Ford trucks alongside horses.

In addition to the 20 red Ford Super Duty pickups on the ranch’s south division, the company supplied 10 pickups and vans for the film crew, according to director Harry Lynch.

Mark Grueber, strategic marketing manager for Ford, said the company did not play a role in the ranch’s vehicle choices. “We didn’t want to be in your face as far as the Ford trucks were concerned,” he said.

Ford did not disclose the value of the project. The 45-minute film is expected to air in most of the nation’s Imax theaters.

The anticipated popularity of the film in markets where Ford competes for truck buyers played a role in the company’s decision to sponsor the project, Grueber said. While one in eight vehicle sales nationally is a truck, the ratio falls to one in four in Texas, he said.

Executives from museums that operate Imax theaters had a hand in developing the marketing for Ride Around the World, recommending that name over the working title Ride With Cowboys, according to Trinity Films.

There are now about 266 Imax-affiliated theaters in 38 countries, with about half located in museums. Recently, Imax signed an agreement with AMC Theaters for five new Imax screens as the technology becomes more popular for showing films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Polar Express and others that offer sweeping vistas and cutting-edge special effects. The first permanent Imax projection system was installed in Toronto in 1971.