Ford to create interactive real-time road rally featuring the 2012 Focus

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 5, 2010

Ford Motor Co. isn’t relying on a conventional campaign for the pre-launch of the 2012 Focus. In fact, Ford is turning to viral media and has hired the creators and producers of the Emmy-winning CBS reality show “The Amazing Race” for the Focus Rally, a cross-country competition that will be participated in by 12 challengers who will drive the new Focus.

To be helmed by Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, “The Focus Rally: America” will be streamed on Hulu.com for five weeks beginning Feb. 1 in 30-minute shows. There will also be three-minute online clips. Those who would like to apply for the six teams of two people can go to www.focusrally.com to get more information.

Live casting calls will also be held in 11 cities. The challenges in the Focus Rally will involve the use of technology in the Focus, such as Sync and a rearview camera. The teams can be followed on Facebook where fans can actively help their favorite in challenges and get the chance to win one of 10 new Focuses.

According to Matt Van Dyke, director of Ford’s marketing in the US, the Ford-Microsoft Sync system is a popular feature on Ford brand models with a take rate of about 75% across the lineup. This system is offered as standard in some models.

Van Dyke said that the company likes the tie-in with social media and the fact that it will be able to get “millions of people to play along at home.” He said that what sets Ford apart is “engaging people.” He said that Ford anticipates that the Focus campaign will get about the same audience size as its media blitz for the Fiesta subcompact, which had a marketing campaign that attracted over 6 million video views on YouTube and led to strong awareness and consideration for the new model.

Van Dyke estimates that the Focus blitz will be spread virally by contestants and consumers to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and mobile phones. Van Dyke revealed that this deal wasn’t done during the annual TV commercial buying period (recognized as upfronts) or through an ad sponsorship deal with “The Amazing Race.” The 2012 Focus will arrive in US showrooms next March.

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