Ford of Europe Tackles Distracted Driving With Daydream VR Experience

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Aug 2017

Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme is dedicated to teaching teens the skills they need for safe driving. To take on distracted driving specifically, Ford of Europe is going big. As in, VR big. “Ford Reality Check,” a new Daydream VR app, allows young drivers to see the possible consequences of everyday driving behaviour.

Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Wear your seatbelt in the correct position. Obey the speed limit. Avoid distractions from passengers. Never text and drive.

Newly licensed drivers have a lot to remember when they first pull out of the driveway, putting them more at risk of being distracted behind the wheel. The irony is that new drivers tend to think they’re invincible—a full 93% of new drivers feel as though they’re skilled, safe drivers, and 86% perceive themselves as safer drivers than others on the road.1 And yet, one in four European drivers has been involved in a car accident.1

That’s why Ford developed Driving Skills for Life (DSFL), a global programme designed to help young drivers improve their skills in four key areas: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed management, and space management. Created in 2003 by the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association, DSFL operates in 35 countries and has trained more than 1M drivers since its inception. So far, the brand’s efforts have included web-based trainings, impaired driving simulation courses, hands-on clinics, and digital games.

DSFL has helped countless novice drivers learn important safety skills, and it was looking to take those efforts to the next level. Or really, the next dimension.

One of the best places for drivers to learn new skills safely is in simulations. So Ford of Europe and its WPP agency partners teamed up with Happy Finish and Google to bring innovative VR technology to its DSFL events—and to users at home.

Creating an immersive, educational experience

Teens love tech. Teens love games. Teens love driving. Based on these simple insights, “Ford Reality Check,” the first Daydream app that replicates the key distractions young drivers face on the road, was born. Ford of Europe and the Google team knew that to reach (and educate) famously hard-to-engage teens, they would have to do something truly new—and truly cool. That’s why Google’s Daydream VR was the perfect platform.

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Using the Daydream controller, users simulate driving while trying to avoid virtual distractions, including taking a video call, responding to a text message, or changing the music, among others. For example, drivers can snap a VR selfie and see a potential consequence of this. At the end of the experience, the (digital) drivers are shown what percentage of the time they took their eyes off the road. At the end of the experience, the (digital) drivers are shown what percentage of the time they took their eyes off the road.

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“For the first time, Ford of Europe, H&K, Happy Finish, and Google have created a new VR tool to promote safe driving behaviour amongst teenagers. The result is a great digital tool that will educate a young generation using a gaming approach,” said  Emmanuel Lubrani, Senior Manager, consumer and social media at Ford of Europe GmbH.

Getting people excited about VR with targeted YouTube ads

Ford of Europe brings “Reality Check” to all DSFL clinics, but the brand wanted to get it in front of as many new drivers as possible. So it’s making the app available in the Google Play Store.

To get the word out, it turned to YouTube, the best place to reach its core audience. The team crafted a teaser video that will drive users to the Google Play Store to download the app.

The brand plans to test variations of the ad among different user segments, using affinity targeting to reach audiences that are interested in automotive and driving safety content.

With “Reality Check,” Ford of Europe is doubling down on its commitment to keep young drivers safe by leveraging emerging technology to meet teens in the two places they love spending time: in the car and on the web.