“You've just won a NEW CAR!”
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a Price is Right moment. But it sure felt like one when the Ford Motor Company offered Coca-Cola Journey a new 2017 Ford Escape for JourneyxJourney, our epic three-week, 4,000-plus-mile storytelling road trip across America. The trip might have never happened without Ford. That’s the power of partnerships. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
The pie-in-the-sky dream that started three years ago was this: to put Coca-Cola Journey on the map by taking a literal journey. To do this, the team would set out to find and tell unique Coca-Cola stories across the U.S. — not by phone, not by email, but the old fashioned way: in person.
The idea simmered on the backburner for what seemed like an eternity, but kicked into drive again last summer when my coworker Emily Bucherati and I were on a completely unrelated call with Ford’s social media team. Just as we were about to hang up, I was overcome with a bout of word vomit and began pitching the road trip idea. There was no immediate, “We’re in!”, but we were cautiously optimistic.
And sure thing, Ford called back… this time to discuss next steps for making the road trip a reality.
First step: Finding the perfect vehicle fit. With our specific road trip needs taken into consideration, the 2017 Ford Escape was declared our future home away from home. The project had finally become more than just a dream.
Ford often loans new vehicles to bloggers and influencers. That’s nothing new. But lending one to another company like Coca-Cola? This was a first.
“Certain brands make sense teaming up, right? Ford and Coca-Cola are iconic brands that make sense,” says William Mattiace, product communications, Ford Motor Company. “Everyone loves a road trip, and what’s better than a road trip with a Coke?”
The partnership opened the door for JourneyxJourney. Working with Mattiace, social media producer Pete Kidd led the charge on the Ford side, while Bucherati and I took the wheel on the Journey side (figuratively and literally, of course). The teams worked together on everything from mapping out the route and coordinating social media efforts, to designing a unique car wrap for the Ford Escape that would evangelize both Coke Journey and Ford on the road.
[Click here for a behind-the-scenes look]
“We wanted to make sure that you guys were getting the logistics taken care of, and everything you needed to have a great ride, a great trip, a great experience and a great adventure in the new Escape,” says Kidd.
All of the endless planning, meetings and work needed to get the wheels spinning fed into fueling the overall mission – to "drive" Coca-Cola Journey storytelling in a new, innovative direction by producing compelling content fueled by consumers, customers and employees.
Our mission was right in line with Ford’s mantra, #GoFurther. That was exactly where we wanted to take our content – further.
“For us, [JourneyxJourney] was a unique opportunity to take the Escape and tell that story through different channels and avenues we hadn’t done before as part of our vehicle launch,” says Kidd. “The opportunity to execute a shared collaboration with a great company such as Coca-Cola, enable storytelling through Coca-Cola Journey, and bring awareness and visibility to the Ford Escape.”
In that same vein, Mattiace adds, “The concept was particularly intriguing because it wasn’t about trying to sell a Coke or trying to sell an Escape, it was about sharing experiences. That’s the core of the Escape brand.”
The Coca-Cola Company and Ford have a history of working together on sustainability initiatives like PlantBottle packaging, and share business values rooted in innovation. What made JxJ particularly interesting was the experiential aspect. The 2017 Ford Escape was trailed by a 40-ft. motor home that served as a “Mobile Brand Publishing HQ.” Traveling as a publishing caravan, Journey was able to not only drive storytelling, but also actively produce high-quality content while on the road. It had never been done before.
“This project was experimental for Ford, as well. We didn’t know what the outcome would be or where it would go so we continued to push ourselves to do things that are a little bit different and out of the ordinary for us. In that sense, [JourneyxJourney] was something quite huge,” explains Mattiace.
In the end, Coke Journey traveled to more than 20 locations, produced 40-plus videos and written stories, and sent 200-plus social posts across five social media handles. In addition to driving content, the team also spread brand love – a value that can’t be measured with a number, but was certainly felt and received along the way. The Journey-branded Ford Escape served as a reminder of Coca-Cola’s presence, not just in a bottle but in communities across the country. Even inside the Escape, a custom cooler built by Motor City Solutions kept hundreds of Coca-Cola aluminum bottles nice and frosty as a way to share Coke moments with fans, customers and employees along the way.
On a personal level, the entire process of working with an incredible partner like Ford was an amzing win. With the support we received from the very first phone call to the moment we reluctantly gave back our “baby,” the Escape, Ford was there: fueling our dream, powering our journey.
“Our role in [JourneyxJourney] was enabling you guys to do something that was a first, not just for us, but for Journey as well. I hope that’s one thing [The Coca-Cola Company] is proud of – you and Emily took this on and made it a first for Journey. We were just happy to help and enable you guys to do it,” concludes Kidd.
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