DEARBORN, MI: Yesterday, an unmodified 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid was driven a reported 1,445.7 miles on one tank of gas around Washington, DC, breaking a world record for a gasoline-powered midsized sedan. Dubbed its "1,000 Mile Challenge," the stunt was created to generate buzz about the brand's value proposition among consumers, said Jay Ward, communications manager at the automaker.
“As a manufacturer, over the last six months, there's been a lot of criticism that we're not moving fast enough in terms of fuel economy,” said Ward, “That wasn't the case, and [this] was a good way to demonstrate how far we'd gone.”
For 69 hours straight on about $37 dollars of gas, the Fusion Hybrid was driven around Washington by a team of seven drivers, including NASCAR celebrity Carl Edwards, famed hypermiling champion Wayne Gerdes, and Ford engineers. The effort also raised more than $8,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The "1,000 Mile Challenge" is part of a larger PR initiative for the Fusion, which has been ongoing for the past six months, including road shows in local markets and the “We Speak Car” marketing campaign. In addition to blogger and traditional media outreach, Ford also created content on YouTube, TheFordStory.com, and Twitter.
Ward noted the effort is part of Ford's VP of communications Ray Day's business strategy that “for too long car companies have spent their time [concentrating on] auto media.” Instead, the brand is focusing on “distanc[ing] ourselves from what's happening at other auto companies” and promoting innovation, Ward said.
In terms of agency support, Ogilvy PR Worldwide assisted with social media outreach, alongside Direct Impact which provided media support. Burson-Marsteller helps with its ongoing program to reach non-automotive media, while PCG Campbell assisted with securing Carl Edwards.