Holden is not considering abandoning its Supercars programme any time soon, according to Executive Director of Marketing Mark Harland.
Manufacturer involvement is a hot topic in Supercars at the moment, with Ford and Volvo already out of the sport and a huge question mark hanging over Nissan's plans beyond the end of the current season.
Holden hasn't been immune to speculation either; despite the introduction of the new ZB Commodore for this season, a general pivot in marketing towards a less traditional Holden demographic, as well as the manufacturing of the brand's flagship sedan being shifted from Australia to Germany, has led to questions about the relevance of the Supercars programme in the future.
Harland, however, maintains that having a Commodore winning Supercars races is as important as ever.
"[Motorsport] for Holden is a proof-point for what our new products can do," said Harland.
"As you can imagine, not building a Commodore in Australia, it can’t be the same as it ever was.
"Yes, we build it in Germany, but this is a good proof-point to show all the work that goes into creating a new road car, and winning on the track is a proof-point for the people that may have some doubts about a Commodore that’s built somewhere else in the world.
"Anchoring it here, winning here, shows that this is a serious car for people who love to drive. It’s a great proof-point and will ultimately transfer to sales in the showroom for us – ultimately that’s what we want."
With that in mind, Harland is confident that the brand's more modern marketing directions – including sponsorship deals with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Collingwood's men's and women's AFL teams – can be integrated to work with traditional programmes such as motor racing.
And that doesn't just include Supercars, but the Holden Colorado running in the new SuperUtes series as well.
"The new ZB looks great and is fast, and we’re doing the same with Colorado, so I think it makes a statement that Holden’s not going anywhere," he said.
"We’re committed to the sport and it’s important for us.
"We are still Australia’s brand.
"Even if we don’t build cars here, we still think of ourselves and want to be Australia’s brand.
"So we want to represent Australians and the things that they love to do.
"Part of Holden’s DNA is motorsport, so we’re going to continue to show the people who love motorsport and that we’re in it to win with a great new car.
"Motorsport will be a big part of what we do. Yes, we’ll do other initiatives, like supporting the AFL and NRL bringing their womens' games along.
"There’s other things we’re going to do to show we’re balanced and representing what modern Australians care about.
"But for motorsport fans we want them to know that we’re behind motorsport.
"We need to have a balanced portfolio, but when we’re here on the track, it’s about winning.
"Motorsport, it’s in the DNA. That’s what we like to do on the weekends here."
Harland added that he and Managing Director Mark Bernhard will both be banking time at the track this year, as Holden looks to stay engaged not just with its factory team, run by Triple Eight, but all of the teams running Commodores.
"This year’s plan is to try and get me, our MD Mark Bernhard, and our other senior leaders to the track on a regular basis," he said.
"Aside from the team we own, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, we want to tell all the guys that are driving Holdens that we’re committed to the sport and excited about it."
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