Like nearly every other eighteen-year-old guy in this country, I am nearly obsessed with cars. Unlike many of them, I am more interested in the driving piece than the car piece. I’d rather take a Honda Civic out on a track for a day than drive a Corvette around on the streets for a month. As a driving enthusiast, I’m naturally drawn to rally racing. I won’t say that there isn’t a great deal of skill involved in driving NASCAR – doing anything at speeds upwards of 120 miles per hour takes a lot of skill – but I will say that I get much more of a thrill out of watching cars go 90 through trees sideways.
What brings me to this on a tech/media blog? Well for one, I love this stuff too much not to write about it. But second, I saw an unprecedented piece of media today that I thought I would share. One of my favorite drivers in rally, Ken Block, also happens to be the founder and owner of DC Shoe Company, a popular skate-shoe brand. The company recently released a new line of clothing around Block’s racing, and since rally racing is not a very mainstream sport, advertising was obviously a difficult obstacle.
Some very, very smart person somewhere had the idea to integrate Block’s successes into one. Block and his team-mates the late Collin McRae and Travis Pastrana have millions of views on YouTube between X-games footage, rally footage, and promotional stunts that they do. So as advertising for this new line of clothing, Block and his team put together a 7-minute video (YouTube) “infomercial,” which could more accurately be titled “Amazing Video with Many Product Plugs.” The video features Ken Block driving around an empty storage yard in the L.A. harbor in a driving style called Gymkhana, which is essentially parkour with four wheels and four-hundred horsepower. The catch is that the video features Ken Block (sometimes out of the car) wearing the clothing in the new line. While the vast majority of the video is just shots from the outside of the car showing some amazing driving stunts, the general effect is “I want to wear the exact same thing as anyone doing anything like that in a car.”
I have to say, after watching that video, I was so amazed and enthralled that I checked out the store site. I will say this: I have never been so tempted or convinced to buy a $75 pair of shoes that I completely do not need. This was a really cool use of media to advertise. While there was definitely product placement, the focus of the video was to show the driving, not the clothes. I hope I see more of this in the future, especially from the rally racing industry.