About a week ago, a dear friend and former co-worker, Kelly Fitzpatrick, put me on the path to a new web-based social series called "Focus Rally: America." Ford, along with the creators of "The Amazing Race," are creating a new real-time webisodic adventure. Based on what little information I can gather, here's what we know so far:
- Ford is the main sponsor
- The show will take place with the new, loaded 2012 Ford Focus as the hero product
- The show will play out in real-time online for five weeks
- It appears that contestants will take on scavenger hunt-like goals
- Participants will use their social graph in order to collect information to complete tasks
- The people within the social graph could also win in the end, given their assistance to the participant (prizes seem TBD)
- The winner of the contest will split a large cash sum with their respective partner and get ten brand new 2012 Ford Focus vehicles to be given away to people that helped the most
- I'm going to assume that, naturally, the players will be aggressively tweeting, posting, blogging, checking-in, geocaching, video updating and Facebooking all to beat the band
- The map is posted and it appears to be a full coast-to-coast trip (with your more than occasional caveats, I'm sure)
As a professional advertiser that specializes in interactive and social mediums, I must say with all pun intended: the whole concept gets my motor running. I've been preaching "in-content branding" for five years now and only in the past five years (with the death of the 30 second commercial, thanks to TIVO, DVR and now every new internet TV box) are we truly seeing entertainment companies embrace this, holistically. Extreme Makeover, HGTV and others have been doing it right for some time but to make leap, for most, in prime-time has been critical. What makes this entertainment concept different, though, is it's online and in real-time.
Well, I got a call to go to the casting audition!
So this month, I'll go through the process and cross my fingers and toes and see how it goes. What I like about the concept is many, it pushes the technology, social and wraps it around the Ford brand. This makes Ford look as smart as their new cars are claiming to be. And if they're REALLY smart about it, they will also use the experience to team up with app, mobile and social developers to use all of us as guinea pigs to kick some beta tires while we're at it. I'd love to be on the conceptual team, as well, as it has all the classic lines of part Amazing Race, part ARG, appeals to the gearheads and offers real-time interaction with participants (though admittedly this could also be highly problematic without some moderation). And let's face it finding ten people with valued social graphs will be spectacular for Ford to send and build loyalty driven messaging as they tap into a galvanized audience. It's one thing to say that you're a smart company, but it's another thing to prove you're a smart company. I like this idea and I'm excited about playing a part in it (even if it's simply the casting). And I need you to tell your friends to follow me, their friends to follow me, their pets and their pets friends...pleeeeeeease :D
In the meantime, here's all the stuff online, casting is in full swing so if you're as psyched as I am, you might get invited to the dance, too:
- Focus Rally
- TV Casting on Facebook
- The Ford Focus
- The Ford Focus on Facebook
- The Ford Focus on Twitter
- The Ford Focus Rally on Twitter
- The Ford Focus Rally on Facebook
- The Ford Focus Rally Group on Facebook
So as they say, "stay tuned," there's more to come as I know it. Life might be a rally but it is a wild ride.