In an effort to appeal to millennials, U.S. car company Ford decided to reimagine the test drive. Between June 23 and June 26 of this year, Ford devised a giant drivable game in New York based on the popular Escape the Room experience where players have 60 minutes to escape a room by solving puzzles and clues. Ford’s experience had players partnered in teams of four as they drove through New York’s 35,000 square foot Moynihan Station in a Ford Escape SUV. Using the vehicle’s features and technology, the teams had 60 minutes to solve puzzles in order to escape a sequence of rooms.
Players drove the Escape SUV through a series five rooms that were connected by the game’s overarching theme: making it big in New York. Using the SUV’s features such as active park assist, 360-cameras, remote start and lock, and FordPass, an app that allows users to locate parking or pay for services using a mobile wallet, players navigated through levels that included a tiny studio apartment to a film premiere.
“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 Ford’s experiential market manager Ginger Kasanic.
Throughout the experience, cameras and RFID bracelets captured the players as they completed tasks and moved on through each level. The footage was then spliced into a commercial that players could then watch at the end of the game.
Although Ford hasn’t seen a drop in car sales among millennials, the game is still a bid to attract more buyers in that age group. According to Kasanic, many millennials treat the car-buying experience differently than preceding generations.
“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 sho,” Kasanic said. “This gives them a great experience, and it shows off the product in a fun and interesting way. […] 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.”