DEARBORN, MI: Ford Motor Co.'s communications team set up a series of experiential events to create buzz for its crossover SUV, Ford Flex, which is on its way to dealerships now.
Most recently, Ford, in conjunction with “Band from TV,” a nonprofit comprised of celebrities, like Teri Hatcher and Hugh Laurie, participated in a scavenger hunt across hotspots in Los Angeles June 21 with the vehicle, interacting with onlookers along the way.
“Rather than sponsor a party, we wanted [influencers] to have real interaction with the vehicle and generate PR coverage,” said Usha Raghavachari, Ford crossover marketing communications manager.
Rogers & Cowan's LA office provided PR support for the scavenger hunt, and promoted it to local and national media through broadcast, radio, bloggers, and print, in addition to multicultural media mediums.
“California is an important market [for the Flex], and we wanted a number of functions there. So, another program kicking off in LA [on June 24] is the Ford Flex Insider program,” said Raghavachari.
The Ford Flex Insider program is an experiential marketing event that will provide rides to key influencers to venues like art galleries to discuss the unique design, dinner, and a night club, in addition to days dedicated to tapping multicultural markets. It will run through the summer in markets including San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, and New York. Ford will partner with regional publications to reach “up and coming influencers,” such as chefs, musicians, and other professionals in creative fields, Raghavachari said.
“Those markets were chosen because our multicultural audience is important, and [we] have received great feedback form African-American and Hispanic markets,” she said.
Jay Ward, Ford communications manager for crossovers and SUVs, said the lifestyle events helped align the Flex, with its unique properties like fuel-efficiency and modern design, to a strategic influencer set.
“[Unlike traditional automotive media], we're aware we can't take the Ford Flex to all audiences in the same way as say traditional automotive media,” he said. “We wanted to get the car out to media in their market.”
Hill & Knowlton provided PR support for the Insider program and other lifestyle events, and advertising agency JWT created and executed the Insider program.