DETROIT -- Ford brand is venturing into the reality television production business with a new show called “Escape Routes” that will promote the 2013 Escape crossover, which arrives in dealerships this May.
Starting March 31, the series will air for six consecutive weeks at 8 p.m. ET Saturday nights on NBC and at 11 p.m. on a Hispanic network called mun2. The interactive series, which will invite fans to participate online, will feature six teams of two participating in a road-trip competition driving Escapes. Ford announced plans earlier today.
The teams will perform various tasks and interact with online followers. At each stop, the teams will interact with followers online to “tap into the fabric of the local culture,” the company said in a press release.
Dealers in each city will have the opportunity for advertising tie-ins, says Crystal Worthem, Ford brand content and alliance manager. The cities are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Miami and Atlanta.
“Escape Routes” is the latest extension of Ford’s aggressive push into social media marketing, a campaign being spearheaded by Jim Farley, group vice president of global marketing sales and service. Earlier efforts included the Fiesta Movement from 2010 and Focus Rally from 2011. The difference is that those two campaigns were online only. “Escape Routes” will air on a prime time network television.
Rally style racing
As the Focus compact launched last year, Ford filmed the adventures of six teams crossing the country in a rally-racing style competition and put them up on a Web site. Ford says that millions followed their adventures online.
Ford executives were so pleased with the feedback they got from online participants that they pitched the concept to about five networks. NBC and Telemundo’s mun2 bought the idea, Worthem said. Ford is supplying the vehicles for the program and paying production costs.
The winning team will receive a $100,000 cash prize plus two new Escapes. Online participants can win trips and Escapes.
The show will be produced by Elise Doganieri, an eight-time Emmy Award-winning producer, and David Leener from the Profiles Television team. The show will be hosted by Rossi Morreale, a reality TV show personality.
“Not only will viewers be able to follow the game in real time, but followers will have the ability to impact the outcome of the game,” said Doganieri, who is also the creator of “The Amazing Race,” another adventure travel reality show that sometimes features Ford Mustangs.
A typical reality TV show is shot several months in advance, but this one will be shot in each city the same week it airs, giving followers the chance to interact with their favorite teams.
Ford dealers will have plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the program, Wortham said.
“Because we’re going to be in so many local markets and because dealers have so many great relationships with local (TV) affiliates, they’ll be able to amplify and promote the show via their Web pages and Facebook pages,” Worthem said.
Ford launched the “Escape Routes” project at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November when actress Jenny McCarthy competed against online participants in a Scrabble-like game called “Words With Friends.”