Shawn Thompson of Ford: Supporting Black Businesses
Shawn Thompson, multicultural marketing manager for Ford Motor Company spoke with rolling out about the automotive behemoth’s seven-year affiliation with the Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas.
Thompson, based in Dearborn, Mich., is usually the one who performs the perfunctory duty of giving away a Ford Fusion or Explorer to a lucky person or, in this case at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort on the famous Vegas Strip, to the winner of the Community Leader Award that is given at the end of the Hoodies.
A prolific supporter of elite annual urban events around the country, Thompson discussed Ford’s philosophy of philanthropy, marketing and leadership:
“Ford Motor we like to connect with the community where the community is, whether it’s the Tom Joyner Cruise or Essence Music Festival or here at the Hoodies. And actually, I’m flying out for the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show in Atlanta. Ford is really out there and I’m so proud of Ford supporting those who look like me.”
These types of events enable you to accomplish multiple business objectives in one. Not only are you able to help give back to HBCUs with the cruise, which you’ve supported for six consecutive years, but you are able to show off your newest rides.
The love, the respect, the outpouring — just the caring from the passengers from the cruise has been outstanding, it’s been fantastic. Last year we set record in vehicles sales from the cruise. So we decided to step-up our sponsorship and [become] the title sponsor of the event; based upon just the brand awareness from the attendees of the cruise.
What is your leadership style?
I just like to make myself approachable whether I’m on a plane … or ‘hey, this is my third trip [on the Tom Joyner Cruise] and I’m coming back. Or, if I’m walking through the cruise ship and people are saying ‘I’m glad you’re coming back, Shawn. Remember me from last year?’ or ‘I bought an Explorer or an F-150.’ I just like making myself accessible to them. Now, that goes both ways, ‘you know, my vehicle broke down.’ So, nothing is perfect. So what can I do to assist you? It’s like, I don’t want to forget where I came from, and I just want them to be able to talk to me.