From today (18 November) until 20 November, Ford is hosting its Driving Skills for Life training sessions at ExCel London. The interactive sessions are designed to give young drivers between the ages of 18 - 24 a hands-on experience covering hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed/space management, distraction and cyclist awareness, as well as advising them on the dangers of drink and drug driving and taking selfies at the wheel.
What is the significance of Driving Skills for Life to the Ford brand?
The event is organised by a philanthropic part of Ford called Ford Fund, and it is set up to encourage driver safety, with Driving Skills for Life our flagship global programme. We know that young drivers - people aged under 25 - are twice as likely to have a car accident in comparison to the rest of the population. Driving Skills for Life is a programme aimed at that audience to help them gain the skills to make them safer drivers.
How does experiential play a part in the training sessions?
There's a theoretical part to safer driving but there's no better way to learn than through a hands-on experience. There is probably no better way to deliver driver skills training than via an experiential environment.
What has been the reaction to the training sessions?
We have quite a challenging audience to reach. Under 25 year olds are very elusive and it's difficult to get them to show up to an event. But what we do see with those who do attend, is that they have a hugely positive response, and we get really high satisfaction levels. Last year our satisfaction levels were over 97%. We get a great response; people are not quite sure what to expect, but then they come along and get a hands on experience and they love it."
What role does experiential play in Ford's wider marketing strategy?
When you sell cars, there's a lot of rational things like engines and specifications, but ultimately it comes down to sitting in a vehicle and experiencing it. We put our product in front of people and that is experiential, so that [experiential] plays quite an important part in our marketing mix. We use different kinds of technology, but only if there's a need for it. We've never tried to be the first or to shoehorn things in. At the moment we've not been using it [technology] at events, but that's not to say we wouldn't do it in the future.
Is there experiential activity planned for the future?
Our next big event is a major European one called Go Further, we're taking a mixture of employees, our dealer network and some journalists to Cologne for a big, immersive event. We've converted one of our big manufacturing halls into a venue and we're going to be showcasing some of our new technology that's coming, some of our future products, and some of our mobility tools. That's happening on 29 November. It will be live-streamed on Youtube, so there's quite a big build up to that [the event]."
In September, Ford and Refinery29 created a glow-in-the-dark garden for New York Fashion Week.
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