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.

Southwest Airlines, Millennials and Music

Wouldn't it be great if companies could tap into the ideas of student entrepreneurs, and bring to the forefront brilliant ideas that the Millennials have in business? And then take those ideas and bring them into fruition? It sounds like a far-fetched idea, but that's exactly what Southwest Airlines did in their Recess 2016 Spring Tour.

Mix Music and Business to Attract New Entrepreneurs

Mid April (April 5 through April 18) Southwest Airlines reached out to 18 universities and colleges to find current student entrepreneurs. Southwest Airlines gave the students the opportunity to meet with the biggest investors and venture capitalists in the country to pitch their startup ideas. These entrepreneurs were then entered into a bracket style competition to compete for a cash prize of $250,000.

After each stop on the tour, the students were invited to an after party concert which featured artists such as Tory Lanez, GoldLink, and Lil Dicky. The concerts and party atmosphere of the competition's after party attracted students to consider the message that Southwest Airlines had to offer: “Your ideas are important and we want to know what you think is important to your generation.”

A Win-Win Situation for All Involved

In Southwest Airlines' Recess 2016 Spring Tour, everyone who participated was a winner. It encouraged Millennials who are naturally more attracted to innovation to team up with investors and venture capitalists, thus networking the two groups. It helped Southwest Airlines develop loyalty among the Millennials that are the most brand loyal generation to come along. Southwest Airlines fostered further loyalty with offering round-trip airline tickets as giveaways.

By introducing new companies and new brands to college students, it is likely to foster brand loyalty in those students throughout their lives. This is vitally important when considering that college students are often the business leaders of tomorrow. By introducing the college students to investors and venture capitalists, it gives the students a deeper understanding how business works and what's required to take their brilliant idea all the way to a product or service. At the very least, it gives the college students inroads into investors and venture capitalists.

Creating Loyalty through Innovation

Because the Millennials embrace technology and innovation more than previous generations, it's important for companies to position themselves as innovators. Millennials look for new technology when considering their brand loyalty. Consumers often form their brand preferences while they are young, which is why it is imperative to reach the Millennials now. Through Recess 2016 Spring Tour, Southwest Airlines has created an appealing way to reach Millennials in an unique venue.