MADRID - As 100 tired but contented bloggers, participants and consumers make their way home from the Focus Global Test Drive in Madrid, Spain, all that’s left for Ford to do is count the blog posts, video views, tweets and comments resulting from the innovative, industry-first event.
Just a few days after the Test Drive concluded there have already been 800 tweets about the event, with a collective reach of 10.6 million followers. A video posted on YouTube by one of the bloggers was the site's fourth most talked about film over the weekend, and has so far been viewed 208,000 times. And real-time updates shared during the three-day event on Flickr and Facebook collectively generated 1,762 likes and 166 comments.
The 100 participants from 13 countries travelled to Madrid last week to put the all-new Focus through its paces for three days at the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA). The facility offers multiple road surfaces, including high-speed tracks, road courses and proving ground roads replicating every conceivable obstacle a driver may face, anywhere in the world.
Of the 100 participants, 40 were selected via the Focus Global Test Drive Facebook page. Ford fans from around the world were invited to submit a video application explaining why they should be among the first to drive Ford’s new global car. They were also invited to ‘start more than a car’ by selecting a charity to which Ford would donate $10,000 if they were selected to participate. Each of these participants brought a companion to accompany them on the ride of a lifetime.
With celebrity racing drivers Justin Bell and Tanner Foust on hand to brief, teach and thrill on the high-speed circuit, the participants took part in driving challenges based around four themes – start driving faster, safer, greener and smarter - helping them to quickly get to grips with the car and its technology. An element of competition was also introduced to these challenges, allowing the participants to earn even more money for their chosen charity. Over the three days, Ford donated more than $400,000 to charitable causes.
A further 20 key social media influencers – internet journalists and bloggers - were selected by Ford to take part. Among these was Justine Ezriak, or iJustine to her many fans. The 26 year-old American has more than a million followers on Twitter and Youtube and also writes a hugely popular blog. One of her videos from the event earned YouTube honours in 18 countries.
She said: “My audience is very tech savvy, so I know this is something that they will enjoy, but I’ve also been having an awesome time test-driving these new cars. I think big brands come to us because we have these built-in audiences and there are a lot of people who trust our opinions. So people come to us to see what the next cool thing is going to be and what it is they should be checking out.”
Another of the key influencers was Tom Stone, an internet journalist with Men’s Health magazine in the UK. He explained: “This event is pretty forward thinking. Everyone is learning new ways to do stuff, there’s no right or wrong at the moment. It’s all about trying out new ways and not being left behind, so I think this is great.”
The participants may be back at home, but the event continues. Each of the 40 participants will now receive an all-new Focus to drive in their home town for up to six weeks. They have been tasked with creating videos and blogs about their experience with the car and generating buzz in their local community. They can also use this opportunity to raise more awareness and funds for their charitable cause.
For a full list of Focus Global Test Drive participants and the charities they support, visit the “Global Drive” tab on the Ford Focus Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fordfocus).
Bloggers used the #focusglobaldrive hashtag on Twitter to discuss their experience. To follow the conversation, visit: http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23focusglobaldrive
Images from the event can be found at www.flickr.com/FordEU