Ford Joins the New "Escape the Room" Trend and Adds Innovation to the Popular Game


For the millennial generation, "escape the room" competitions have become one of the most popular interactive activities around. Taking a concept rooted in a pretty basic type of point and click computer game, team members are locked into an actual room, and must use various objects and clues that have been left in the room in order to get out. At the end of June, Ford used this trendy pastime to create an experiential marketing event to promote the Ford Escape. What made Ford's use of the pop culture craze unique is that rather than alluding to a popular activity, they actually expanded on the theme, creating a game that was more elaborate than the popular versions for which tickets sell out quickly. Additionally, the technology that is built into the Ford Escape was so integrated into the fabric of the game, that in order for players to succeed, they needed to pay close attention to the parts of the event that can often cause people to get distracted: product marketing.


The game was limited to 1,000 lucky participants, even though it was held in a massive 35,000 sq. ft. New York City location. As the name suggests, escape the room games generally require players to get out of one room in order to win, but for Ford's event, this was expanded to the requirement of getting out of 5 separate rooms to achieve success. There was only 30 minutes allowed to finish the entire course, meaning that there was only 6 minutes allotted to escaping each individual room.

In order to get out of each room, the player would have to use knowledge of one aspect of the technology included in the Ford Escape. This means that during the pre-game information session, when players were introduced to the 2017 Ford Escape. Seated inside the SUV with a brand ambassador pointing out highlights the players all had a vested interest in paying close attention: their success in the game depended on it.

The game was designed by the master and creator of the original "Escape the Room" physical adventure games, Victor Blake. It was anything but a throwaway game, as many teams were not able to finish it in time, and so "lost," but no doubt had a lot of fun even without victory. Prior to beginning the course, participants were filmed in a Ford Escape goofing around in front of a green screen. From there, the course began. Centered around needing to move through New York City locations, achieve professional success and make it in Hollywood, the game did not lack variety, but what made it truly stand out from all other escape the room games, was it required the participants to actually drive Ford Escapes. From driving to a "coffee shop" (within the building) to pick up a coffee for the bus, to getting a parking space and using the 2017 Ford Escape's self-parking feature, the product that Ford was seeking to promote couldn't have been better integrated into the actual event.

On the one hand, the event was touted as the ultimate alternative to a regular test drive. However, many of the participants are likely not in the market for a car at the moment, and were there to play the game. But as millennials, they are at an age where they are buying their first new car, or will in the next couple of years. What better way to put the Ford Escape firmly at the front of their mind when they are ready to make that purchase.

The Ford Motor Company Fly-In Theater: Giving Wings to Marketing Efforts

Ford is a notoriously proud EAA AirVenture member, and it’s supported the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration for years. Having crafted decade-long relationships, its Fly-In Theater never fails to impress associated members, onlookers and brand visitors. EAA members examine the Fly-In Theater’s events through several lenses—and each promotes top entertainment practices within aviation’s yearly family reunion.  

Events, Concerts and Communication

From July 19 to July 25 in Oshkosh, WI, the Fly-In Theater supplements Ford Motor Company’s finest experiences. The EAA AirVenture opening day concert fires off activities, followed by Ford and EAA’s enhanced and annual EAA AirVenture’s follow up shows. The Fly-In Theater’s Super Saturday packs the Ford Hanger with excitement, entertainment and high-energy events. Multiple opportunities are in store, and Ford Airventure is always ready to provide visitors with connection opportunities.

Versacom and Ford Motor Company’s Marketing

Of course, marketing is an end-game marker of the Fly-In Theater. Ford’s 2015 gathering is powered through Versacom: responsible for the company’s marketing communication efforts. A customer drive, consumer-first agency, Versacom has historically served companies with innovative communication services.

Impacting the industry for over 35 years, Versacom serves clients through intensive marketing efforts, communication resources and lead generation. The Ford Motor Company’s Fly-In Theater is very reliant on Versacom’s feature efforts, and exceeded expectations define their partnership. The industry’s bar is constantly raised, and intelligent, creative marketing concepts are needed to stay ahead. Industry conditions are demanding, and immediate delivery, high-quality services and incomparable value drive both Versacom and Ford Motor Group.

Supported Evolution and Ingenious Marketing Solutions

Ford Motor Company has crafted a highly intuitive marketing event, and the Fly-In Theater meets visitor expectations with nearly limitless industry potential. Adjacent to EAA’s Camp Scholler camping area, the Fly-In Theater matches  entertainment with attendee education. Thousands of patrons experience free, aviation-themed films and entertainment. The area’s five-story screen is highly accessible to large crowds, and previous, big-hit films like Wings and Pacific Rim have been featured.

High-tech activities are also present—making the Ford Hanger a central action hub. Cockpit demonstration systems, “flyby” lectures and informative performance discussions fill the area, and ultra-realistic road courses keep visitors entertained. For Ford, the event is filled with market-boosting potential. Demos, displays, historic crafts and legendary planes are also supported.

Oculus Rift headsets highlight Ford’s recent inclusions—and the virtual reality system provides up-close-and-personal flight simulations to accompany fighter flight tests. The industry’s nod to modern technology is vital to Ford’s industry expansion—as America’s top-hitting vehicle brand rests its good faith in up-to-date technology.

Their acute marketing angle proposes technological evolution, and it reveals soon-to-be bestsellers on a consumer level. Many big-sellers, like the Focus ST, the Ford Edge, the Lincoln SUV and the Lincoln Navigator have all appeared at the Ford Fly-In Theater.

Celebrity Support and Aviation Enthusiasts

The Fly-In Theater’s hanger section is annually established as an “Autograph HQ” for celebrity appearances. Performers, special guests and aviation enthusiasts make appearances, providing a healthy environment for everything Ford.

Collectibles, Mustang celebrations and the Ford Transit Connect’s ice cream distribution are but a few of the Ford Fly In Theater’s amenities. With surrounding campgrounds and luxury-style visitation accommodations, the Fly-In Theater is ready for action.