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2009 Chicago Auto Show: Ford's Interactive Display Designed to Turn Show-Goers into New Customers

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CHICAGO, February 11, 2009: The F-150 SVT Raptor simulator offers a rollicking taste of Baja. The Mustang Garage buzzes with the "Pimp my Ride" crew hard at work, and the Taurus opens like a clamshell to reveal the technology and features hidden under the sheet metal.

The extensive interactive exhibits at the Ford stand at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show offer a wide array of exciting technology and family entertainment, but there's more than just fun and games at stake here. The Ford show stand is designed to turn car-loving show-goers into loyal customers and give Ford an edge in the hyper-competitive marketplace.

If it seems like Ford has auto show displays down to a science, it's because the company's Marketing team has been working for the past year to make its stand at the Chicago Auto Show more interactive and engaging for the show-goers who will be streaming through McCormick Place over the next week.

It's not just about entertaining consumers. This new level of interactive experience is smart business. Approximately 24 million people are expected to attend U.S. auto shows in 2009. More than 650,000 people attended the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit last month.

"The best way to convince potential customers that Ford is different is to do so in person," said Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president, Global Marketing and Communications.

"This year we've paid attention to every detail of the experience they'll have and we're highlighting our 'Drive One' strategy around fuel economy, quality, safety and smart technologies. This is a chance to show everyone -- even the skeptics -- how good we really are," Farley continued.

During the last auto show season (Sept. 2007 to April 2008), Ford's new interactive display was able to generate tens of thousands of customer leads from people visiting the Ford exhibit at auto shows around the country. And with new, more interactive displays for this show season, Ford hopes to attract even more potential car buyers to its show stand and ultimately into dealer showrooms.

Data shows that customers who visit a Ford display at an auto show buy at a higher rate than those consumers who do not visit an auto show. At NAIAS alone, the Ford stand generated more than 3,600 leads, an increase of 51 percent over last year's show.

The kiosks and touch tables that showcase and demonstrate product features and benefits -- even the magician entertaining the crowds -- are all part of a careful strategy designed to drive potential customers to Ford's stand and keep them long enough to learn about the exciting vehicles and technology Ford is putting on the road today and in the future.

These displays provide show-goers with "hands-on" brand experiences, from the teen driver benefits of MyKey(TM) technology, to actually seeing leaves growing on the vine inside the Fusion Hybrid SmartGauge(TM) with EcoGuide from driving in an economical way. Touch tables illustrate a wide variety of Ford features, from the environmental benefits of soy-based seat cushion foam to the power and fuel economy from Ford's EcoBoost(TM) engines.

Features that pique the consumer's interest, such as the Taurus Theater, where visitors can step inside a cutaway Taurus and become immersed in an audio-visual presentation, offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to educate them on one of Ford's most important new products.

Ford's commercial truck leadership is displayed on "Main Street," a hands-on, tangible set of examples demonstrating the many uses of Ford heavy-duty trucks and vans in everyday American life.

"The product specialists on the stand go through an intensive 10-day training program," said Darrell Bryja, director of Global Auto Shows and Events. "They sit down with the engineers and the marketing team so they fully understand the products and can answer any questions that might be posed."

From the Fusion Racing Game, where contestants race against the clock, to the Powertrain Touch Tables, where visitors can check out hybrid technologies and talk to an "EcoBoost Scientist," the exhibits are designed to grab consumers' attention and leave a lasting memory that will draw them into a Ford showroom.

"We know the show is a family experience," Bryja said. "So we do our best to make sure that Ford has something for everyone. Maybe Dad's interested in EcoBoost, and Mom wants to check out the hybrid. The kids might be interested in the magician or racing the slot cars. No matter the family member, Ford has something for them all."