By Mitra Sorrells Posted July 8, 2011, 11:45 AM EDT
“Our main mission is to show off the product, but I think that the charitable component really energized our teams and energized a lot of people to support us. From the team members out in the field who work for us to the celebrities who knew they were doing some good, it was very meaningful for everyone,” said Xperience Communications senior producer Kelly Ross.
Each city held a kickoff event, 14 test-drive events, and a grand finale at a community Independence Day celebration. Orlando, which averaged about 100 people at each of its test-drive events, won the contest with a total of 1,516 test-drives. At the city’s “Fireworks by the Fountain” celebration on Monday night, representatives from Ford presented at check for $27,814 to the Parramore Kidz Zone, the designated charity in Orlando. The community partners in Charlotte, Miami, and Atlanta received $14,526, $8,788, and $8,774, respectively.
To promote the contest, Ford created a Web site and Facebook page. Organizers also encouraged the celebrity partners, charitable organizations, and bands that performed at test-drive events to promote the contest through their social media accounts. In Orlando, Ford also partnered with Cox Media to promote the contest on the company’s radio stations and at community events, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer—the celebrity partner—created a video message that ran on the city’s Web site.
“Our Facebook site is only a month old and already has 1,500 likes. You bring in a number of different people who have a stake in your success and you get a lot more cross traffic that way,” said Ross. “We are all trying to figure out how to best use social media, so this was an interesting lesson for me.”
Chaun Avery, Ford’s sales operations manager for the Orlando region, said the idea for the contest developed out of a desire to get people into the vehicle. “We didn’t want to have the car at a festival with people just walking by,” Avery said. Ford thanked anyone who went for a test-drive with a prize, ranging from merchandise to cash. Xperience scheduled many of the test-drive events at restaurants in the four markets, and those venues also gave participants items such as gift certificates or discounts.