Ford is launching a reality TV show dubbed *groan* Escape Routes, which will run for 6 weeks on NBC’s 8 P.M. Saturday night slot and on mun2 (a Hispanic network) at 11 P.M, starting on March 31st. Participants will ostensibly drive around in the 2013 Escape as overly dramatic music and poorly scripted lines spew forth. As if the concept weren’t nauseating enough, participants on the show will apparently interact with fans of the show online to “tap into the fabric of the local culture”.
Ford’s previous campaigns, like the Fiesta Movement and the Focus Rally, were touted by a number of
maladroit geeks social media experts, but for all the millions of” impressions” generated by the Fiesta Movement, for example, the Fiesta’s tenure in America hasn’t been the most stable. Sales were up in 2011, but Ford’s supply of the car was said to be 126 days at the end of the year. As for March 1st, Ford had an 82 day supply of Fiestas, but as of February 1st, it was still at 127.
The issue with campaigns like Escape Routes is that they have the potential to seem contrived, cheesy and worst of all today – inauthentic. One has to wonder what kind of ROI Ford expects with these sorts of campaigns. The Fiesta was an all-new product competing in a relatively immature segment in our market. But the Escape is a strong seller even after retaining the same design and packaging over the last geological era. There is significant brand equity with the nameplate even if the car is completely different. This TV show can’t be cheap to produce, and one has to wonder if A) people are really going to tune into this program B) if the show will be discovered as a giant marketing exercise by Ford C) if there will be a backlash against such an invasive marketing effort.
As optimistic as I am about the new Escape, I can’t help but roll my eyes at the whole notion of a derivative rally program designed to promote a new car that in all likelihood can stand on its own merits as an American-made, fuel-efficient SUV/CUV that has some very advanced technology. Is such a well, goofy, marketing strategy really necessary, or is Ford simply lost in another bout of navel-gazing, egged on by
charlatans social media and other nebulous “creative class” types?