Top 10 Innovative Brands 2017: #2 Ford

There’s no one-size-fits all at the automotive brand’s unique events for consumers across the country.

By Alesandra Dubin June 14, 2017, 6:46 AM EDT

Guests try their luck at navigating a futuristic world on wobbly boards.

Photo: Courtesy of Ford

Ford approaches its event marketing efforts with a sweeping scope—seeking partners and targeting demographics across a wide spectrum. While consumers might not immediately think to align the American car brand with fashion or yoga, Ford uses its events as ways to connect with current and would-be customers with a variety of interests and interact with them in diverse, immersive, high-tech ways.

The brand’s success derives from collaboration across internal and agency teams and “our ability to identify compelling, like-minded partners who help us bring our ambitious visions to life,” says executive director of U.S. marketing Chantel Lenard.

For instance, in January, Ford opened its first brand experience studio at Westfield World Trade Center in New York. The space was designed to show the public how Ford’s expansion to an auto and a mobility company is changing the way the world gets around. The space offers displays, interactive experiences, and events to engage visitors and commuters alike—to the tune of 300,000 passersby daily. In Los Angeles, Ford debuted its crossover SUV, the EcoSport, in what it billed as the first vehicle reveal on Snapchat. The November event, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, brought in DJ Khaled to pull the wraps off the vehicles in front of fans, while he snapped the unveiling for his followers. The experience celebrated the SUV’s ethos—“Go Small, Live Big”—through a smart activation meant to demonstrate a less-is-more philosophy.

To launch the 2017 Fusion, Ford sought a partner in Refinery29 that shared its vision of style with substance and offered access to a key growth audience. At the 29Rooms activation during New York Fashion Week in September, Ford presented the Garden of Energi room. It reflected the ethos of the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid, while captivating Refinery29’s female millennial audience with thoughtful production.

During the Made fashion series in Los Angeles in June, Ford partnered with the IMG-sponsored platform for emerging designers to highlight the 2017 Ford Fusion through “Fusion Labs,” a pop-up series merging fashion, design, sustainability, and art. Activations highlighted attributes of the vehicle, bringing its design message to a trendsetting audience.

The brand launched the 2017 Escape by collaborating with “Escape the Room” founder Victor Blake to create “Ford Escape NYC.” Kicking off in New York with Bravo’s Andy Cohen, the experience had participants use the car’s features to navigate the drive-through game, uncovering clues to solve puzzles.

For the third year, Ford has teamed up with Wanderlust at its yoga and mindfulness festivals across the country, reaching a key audience through physical activations and digital content that lives on throughout the year. An interactive discovery challenge introduces festivalgoers to the sustainable materials inside Ford vehicles, as well as the clean-energy solutions that power them. The challenge engages the yogis with Ford innovation messaging and offers them memorable takeaways—such as that coconuts and soy are part of every Fusion’s eco-friendly makeup.

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