Ford is turning the typical test drive experience on its head this weekend with a giant driveable game in New York. The venue, which will be open from June 23-26, is based on Escape the Room, a popular experiential game where players have 60 minutes to find their way out of rooms by solving a series of clues and puzzles. In Ford's game, teams of four will hop into a Ford Escape SUV and use the vehicle's technology and features to solve puzzles in order to escape a series of rooms in New York's 35,000 square foot Moynihan Station.
Players will drive from room to room in an Escape SUV, which has a 5 mile-per-hour lock, for safety reasons. The theme of the game is making it big in New York. Players go through a series of five rooms, from a tiny studio apartment to a film premiere, completing tasks like picking up coffee for their boss along the way. To navigate from room to room, they'll use the SUV's features, like active park assist, 360-degree cameras and remote start and lock, as well as FordPass, an app that helps users locate parking and pay for services via a mobile wallet.
"Whether you win the game or not, you'll spend an hour with the brand, and you'll have used nine features in the context of life. It shows how a city-dweller in New York would really use that feature," said Ginger Kasanic, Ford's experiential marketing manager.
Cameras and RFID bracelets will capture footage of each player throughout the game, and that footage is then spliced into a Ford Escape commercial that players can view at the end of the experience and share on social media.
While Ford hasn't seen a decline in car buying among millennials, the game is designed to appeal to that age group, which treats the car-buying experience differently than previous generations, Kasanic added.
"Millennials aren't ones to do the traditional test drive. They don't just want to watch the show; they want to participate in the show," she said. "This gives them a great experience, and it shows off the product in a fun and interesting way.
Pre-registration for the game is sold out after more than 1,000 customers signed up to play, but walk-in spots will be available. "When we have a test drive event, we don't typically have 1,000 people signing up for it. This one is a testament to how good the idea is," Kasanic said. "It's also a fun way to get information out there about the new Escape and its features, and get people to try it. Some of these people probably have never sat in a Ford before, let alone owned one."