Ford Rolls out Interactive TV Series to Build Social Presence
It was the first-ever reality show created by an advertiser, driven by consumers and broadcast on network TV.
Ford’s “Escape Routes” was a six-part televised series of “Amazing Race”-style challenges in which six pairs of best friends vied for a Ford Escape and $100,000. Consumers supported their favorite contestants in their challenges online via live chats, live streams and social media, and NBC carried the one-hour show in prime time on Saturday nights while supporting the program across its broadcast, mobile, print and digital channels. The unusual twist on media partnerships earned Ford its most successful pre-launch program to date.
In the months before the campaign, Ford recruited six teams from among contestants who submitted videos and ultimately selected finalists based on the reach of their social networks. Each team was given a Ford Escape and instructed to build an online following that could help them in their weekly challenges.
Virtual teammates could win prizes of their own, too, for chatting, tweeting, recruiting, commenting, playing online games and participating in interactive challenges. At a challenge in Miami, for example, each team had to livestream with fans to help unlock their cell phones. The teams urged their followers to visit a URL that had been set on their phones and then work together to beat the game and reveal the phone’s passcode. Once unlocked, the teams received a text message to get a snapshot of their best “fish face” and then get their followers to re-tweet it 150 times. When that was done, the teams participated in a physical challenge (it was live-streamed, too) that highlighted a feature of the Ford Escape. Live Twitter wrap-ups moderated by a digital host and engagements with bloggers in each market helped the brand beef up its presence online.
By the time the last challenge had been accepted, the interactive TV show had earned Ford 7.65 million viewers. During the program, Escape boosted its share of voice among small SUVs with 116 million tweets, 64 million Facebook impressions, more than 65,000 Facebook “likes” and 3.4 million incremental user-generated video views.