Ford Europe has gone where no other car manufacturer has before, becoming the first to launch a vehicle at a gaming event as the company looks to engage a new audience and be more innovative within its communication strategy.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Ford Europe’s executive director of communications and public affairs Michael Baumann, says a “core part” of Ford’s brand is racing so “it felt like a natural fit” to launch the Ranger Raptor at Gamescom, an annual gaming event held in Cologne. The car was unveiled within a 4D race simulator and is set to feature in the new Xbox racing game Forza Horizon 4, to be released next month.

“Gaming and racing are two passions that a lot of gamers share so there’s a natural overlap between Ford’s DNA and what’s happening in the gaming industry,” he explains.

“Initially I had no clue about just how big the gaming industry is and how much it’s growing. The revenue the industry creates is huge and eventually we saw it as untouched territory. But we seem to be the only car manufacturer who is recognising the opportunity at this point.”

Gamescom attracts almost 400,000 attendees, but according to Baumann it still wasn’t easy convincing the team at Ford that this was the right target audience for its newest vehicle.

“At first people have this impression that gamers are teenagers and therefore not relevant to our target audience. But when you look at the data, you’ll find gamers are much older than you think,” he says.

This audience is very receptive to being sold to this way as long as you don’t make…