Viewers, tweeters tune in to 'Escape Routes'
SAN FRANCISCO -- "Escape Routes," Ford's experiment in prime-time reality TV, is drawing more than 1 million viewers per episode.
The program, which airs on NBC and the Hispanic network called mun2 Saturday nights, pits six teams against one another. They perform various tasks and interact online with followers. The show is designed to highlight the all-new 2013 Escape's features before the vehicle arrives in dealerships in May.
"The reason we give them cars and let them tell their story is it's more credible and trustworthy when other people tell stories about our products than a 30-second commercial," said Jason Sprawka, the Escape's marketing manager, in an interview at the Escape media launch here.
"Escape Routes" is the most extensive prelaunch program Ford has staged since it kicked off efforts to link with consumers via social media with Fiesta Movement in 2010. The TV show has averaged 1.2 million viewers since the first program aired March 31.
Equally important to the viewer numbers are the social media hits.
Online followers generated 81 million Twitter impressions during the first three weeks of the program, Sprawka said.
Ford isn't abandoning old-fashioned network advertising. It is even running spots on "Escape Routes," but those spots are for other Ford vehicles such as the Taurus and Mustang. Ford will run a full-fledged Escape ad campaign after the vehicle goes on sale.
For now it's all about raising awareness. Sprawka says Ford has learned a lot from Fiesta Movement and Focus Rally, the earlier social media programs.
"Fiesta Movement was a whole new world. They had all sorts of challenges just trying to pull it off," he said. "Now we think ahead. Now we order extra vehicles for prelaunch activities. It's a part of what we do."
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