Fresh from its primetime reality TV series experiment with NBC, Escape Routes, Ford is about to embark on yet another branded-content experiment. Plugged In is a weekly online-only series on Yahoo! Screen that's designed to promote the company's first-ever all-electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric, with a reality TV-style competition series (Yahoo's first) that launches May 29th.
The online teaser sets up the show's premise (and reinforces Ford's new "Go Further" tagline) for the branded entertainment partnership: Ten two-person teams will compete to win individual Ford Focus Electrics by hopscotching the country to visit celebrities, who will help the Plugged In teams navigate a kind of road rally cum scavenger hunt built around the celeb's own lives and locales.
So, for instance, the hunt will take the show's teams to San Francisco to visit actress Alicia Silverstone and to Los Angeles to mess around with actor David Arquette. Other celebrities involved include singer India Arie, actor Adrian Grenier, J.R. Martinez, last season's Dancing with the Stars winner, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, and Jenna Bush Hager, the former First Daughter.
Plugged In kicks off with the Arquette episode, and winning teams in each city will circle back to LA for the finale episode on August 7. Interestingly but not surprisingly, the targeted cities are primarily on the coasts, because the coasts — especially California — are where the primary American EV markets are. Only Chicago and Austin, Texas, are on the agenda from the nation's mid-section.
The Yahoo-exclusive series "recogniz[es] the power and reach of the web as we continue to rely more on the power of digital media," Matt VanDyke, Ford's director of U.S. marketing communications, said in a press release.
And just as Ford is pursuing its own path in promoting its EV, it also has chosen a tortoise approach rather than a hare strategy in pursuing the limited market for these cars. Unlike General Motors, for instance, whose Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid with all-battery-powered capabilities, Ford chose to let the all-electric market shape up more before plunging — make that plugging — in.