NEW YORK – Ford and Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company, today announced a new program to promote the launch of America’s most fuel-efficient five-seat car, the Focus Electric, with “Plugged In,” Yahoo!’s first reality competition series.
Beginning in May and timed to the availability of Focus Electric in multiple U.S. markets, the series is being broadcast exclusively on Yahoo! Screen (screen.yahoo.com) – Yahoo!’s video destination. Plugged In features two-person teams competing against each other in a series of challenges centered on the chance to win a Ford Focus Electric. Viewers are encouraged to share comments about each episode and upload photos of favorite places in their hometown to a special Flickr group page created for the program. Magical Elves, an Emmy Award-winning production company, is producing the series.
“Ford is launching the Focus Electric on Yahoo!, once again recognizing the power and reach of the Web as we continue to rely more on digital media,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications for Ford. “The electric vehicle market will grow over time, so we electrified our popular small-car platform with a targeted online campaign instead of creating a one-off vehicle with huge ad budgets.”
Plugged In competition locations include Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; and Boston. A celebrity, serving as the hometown’s personal insider, kicks off each episode and provides clues that require contestants to complete various tasks and challenges while exploring and discovering hidden cultural gems and “best of” locations in their city. The winning teams in each city move on to participate in the finale event in Los Angeles, where they will compete with teams from other regions for the chance to win the Ford Focus Electric.
The Focus Electric plays a prominent role in the competition as the car’s SYNC® with MyFord Touch® system will be how teams receive video, text and audio clues for the content. In addition, the car’s navigation capabilities are used to help teams get from point to point, and hands-free calling will be used when the contest requires teams to make calls.
“Innovative brands like Ford are playing a key role in the growth of online video, especially when the approach starts with the creative elements and storytelling. When the product integration is truly organic, as it is here, the overall consumer experience is enhanced,” said Erin McPherson, vice president and head of Video at Yahoo!. “We drew from insights we have about our audience – namely, that they are passionate about celebrity-related content, and that they love travel – and together with Ford, we developed a high-energy reality competition in which the Focus Electric plays a key role. We will then program the series in the context of our other leading media properties, resulting in a highly immersive video experience.”
With 61 million unique visitors per month* who come to Yahoo! to watch video and 21 of the top original online video programs**, Yahoo! sets the bar for best-in-class original video programming. With a recently launched video destination, Yahoo! Screen, the development of women’s and comedy slates, and partnerships with world-class storytellers, creative partners and original voices, Yahoo! continues to build on the leadership position in video and to provide its consumers and advertisers with the best premium content online.
Team casting is under way and negotiations with the celebrities from each hometown are being finalized. The celebrities and schedule will be announced within the next few weeks.
The Plugged In campaign is paired with Ford’s electrified vehicle website at: http://www.ford.com/technology/electric/, including a “Ford for Me” that allows consumers to describe their driving habits so the best electrified vehicle technology can be matched to their needs. More than 200,000 visitors already have visited the Ford site.
“The winners of Plugged In aren’t vying for just any car, they are competing for the most fuel-efficient five-seat vehicle in America – just one more reason this competition is all that much more exciting,” said Ginger Kasanic, Ford’s experimental marketing manager. “The hope is that viewers not only find the competition element of Plugged In exciting and interesting, but also learn a little bit about the possibilities offered by Focus Electric.”
Focus Electric is America’s most fuel-efficient five-seat car that offers the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon (MPGe) city/99 MPGe highway and operates entirely on battery-generated power. Focus Electric also has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer 105 MPGe combined.
Ford is ramping up Focus Electric retail production in the first half of 2012 for dealership availability in California, New York and New Jersey. By year-end, Focus Electric becomes available in 19 markets across the United States.