After a tough few years for the automotive industry, most of the manufacturers are getting back up to speed, with some agressive marketing campaigns and more favourable economic conditions leading to a 14 percent increase in new car sales in September. Ford increased its share by nine percent, and it's hoping to increase that even further for its Mondeo model with the help of a paid-for reality show called The Test Driver.
The show is running on TV3 before the Sunday night sports news and online and it involves a series of tests that showcase the car's various features, with a new brmm-brmm on offer for the winners. There were around 200 applications to be part of what JWT's managing director Simon Lendrum calls "less a series of ads, and more a 'micro-series'".
- Check out the first week here.
"Test Driver is doing brilliantly," Lendrum says. "The public response for contestants was outstanding, and the resulting series, consisting of a game show focused on a number of driving tasks using the Ford Mondeo, is performing really well. Ford has developed a great reputation around the world as leaders in integrated communications thinking, and this is a great local example that we're excited to see unfold over the coming weeks on Sunday nights on TV3."
Making advertising interesting enough so consumers might actually want to watch it certainly isn't a new tactic. Neither is making advertising that might be confused for editorial content. But following recent commentary about MediaWorks' Focus TV masthead and the use of Toni Marsh as a 'reporter', or TVNZ's The Extra Mile masthead and the use of Back Benches host Wallace Chapman as host, this project also straddles that line, with the use of Jeremy 'Clarkson' Corbett as the host and a campaign calling for entries that openly called it a "new show".
"The internal combustion engine is in my blood," says Corbett on the website. "If you tap my accelerator, do I not rev? If you cut me off, do I not beep? This show is about incredible driving, so, y'know, if you can't do, host."
JWT is also currently trumpeting the new Focus—and particularly its car of the year accolades and impressive parking technology—in a largely outdoor campaign. And it's created an rather comical event to showcase it, with the parker of the year championships taking place at the Cloud this weekend.