I saw a little sidebar piece in the New York Times today about a program the Mercury car brand has launched called the random acts promotion.
"... marketers of the new Mercury Milan aren't waiting for you to come to the cars; they are coming to you, and buying you a cup of coffee."
They showed up unannounced at Mums & Pops Cafe in Philadelphia on Friday and bought everyone free cups of coffee. They parked the new Milan outside the cafe. Interested customers were allowed to sit in the car and check out its interior, but there were no test drives. They did however receive a voucher for $50 that they could redeem for cash by showing up for a test drive at a dealership.
I love the fact that Mercury is bringing its product to the people, rather than expecting them to come to the cars. People who might never have considered a Mercury Milan might do so once they've experienced it in person. I also love the fact that they showed up announced to the owners of the shop, but unannounced and unhyped to the customers. They simply arrived and bought coffee and shared the car. What a nice, friendly and relaxed way to sell your wares (assuming the in-store pitch from Mercury marketing people was not over the top). I do hope, though, that there was some insurance issue or other good reason why Mums & Pops patrons couldn't drive the car. I think I'd be annoyed to sit in it, decide I like how it looks and feels, and then be told I'd have to show up at the dealership to actually drive it. I realize they want to get people into the store to get the sale, but I wish consumers could have had more of an experience with the car. I also realize they're offering 50 bucks for the test drive, but, given time, I might have done it for free at the cafe and they could have saved their 50 bucks.
Anyway, I like marketing programs like these, because they show that companies are willing to do more than simply interrupt you to get your attention.
More blogs about experiential marketing.