Ford is having their own "Big Drive" this Sunday during Oprah's show. They have been recruiting Ford owners to host parties at their homes in an attempt to improve Ford's perception problem. "It’s making sure you’re truly connecting consumers with the product," said Connie Fontaine, Ford's experiential marketing manager. She and Ford believe that the perception problem can be solved once people actually drive a Ford. The hosting Ford owners are inviting friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to "talk up their cars."
Several things came to mind when I read about this in the NYT on the train ride to school today. When will these people get to "experience" the cars? During commercials? "Quick John, go drive around the block! Before the show gets back!" Besides that, when will they actually be talking about the Ford cars anyway? I don't see how you can ask someone to talk about something at their own party during a T.V. show. It's very awkward to say the least. "Hey, let's talk about something else, how about my Ford?"
Plus I imagine there will be a wide variety of cars parked outside the host's home, cars that probably belong to owners who thought a lot about purchasing it and love it. The purchasing cycle for a car is many years, so when will the impact of this party be felt?
I think at most of these parties, Ford will get lost in the background as just another sponsor of "Oprah's Big Give." The connection between Ford and a house party is minimal to say the least. On the other hand, something like watching the American Idol finale at your friend's house who has Verizon Fios just makes sense. Whether or not you decide to talk about Verizon Fios, you will still be experiencing the quality of their service. It would for example make sense for a new author to sponsor a book club's group meeting. It would not make sense on the other hand for Timberland to sponsor a book club's meeting. Sure, someone probably loves their pair of Timberland boots, but how many people at the Book Club really want to hear about it?