Hopefully other automakers were taking notes.
The great Ford GT sweepstakes has just ended and the winners and losers are taking to the Internet to celebrate their good fortune/commiserate with one another over missing out on the chance of a lifetime. As someone who has followed the GT lottery story closely I can safely say that the biggest winner in all of this madness was Ford. The Blue Oval has just shown all other companies that sell supercars how it should be done. Yes, even the snooty Europeans could learn a thing or two from Ford's three-ring GT circus.
Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past few months, let's recap how the GT was won. Ford invited the public to apply for a chance to own the supercar. There were a bunch of questions to answer, and the automaker also asked for a short video from entrants about why they should have a crack at the supercar. Only 500 units were available and over 7,000 applications were received. This unique approach grabbed the media's attention but it also ensured that Ford's application process would still bring in publicity long after the press release announcing it was sent out. Just about every bit of the application process was newsworthy. What were the questions asked? How many applications were received?
The best part is the crowdsourced content created by the whole video element of the application. We started seeing videos from automotive YouTube channels detailing why such and such should get a GT, as some owners publicly campaigned for their spot. This was publicity Ford didn't have to pay for. The transparency behind the purchasing process was also a breath of fresh air. Normally a supercar is announced and then a little while later we learn that deliveries have begun. What happens in the interim is interesting news, but most automakers usually guard that info. Not Ford. Its openness assured that there would always be something to write about.
I'll admit that this process was a bit gimmicky. I'm sure the folks over at Lamborghini or Ferrari would have a heart attack if you suggested that a limited-edition model should be sold this way. However, the Ford GT application process is somewhat similar to how those aforementioned automakers conduct business. Ferrari and Lamborghini are all about brand identity and protection. Not just anyone can buy an Aventador SV or a LaFerrari Spider, at least not at launch. Part of the reason why Ford instituted an application process was to vet potential owners. The automaker didn't want people who would tuck the car away in underground vaults, immediately flip it or just not appreciate how special it truly is. Does that approach sound familiar at all?
The way Ford sold the GT was unique and may never be repeated again. However, such an outside-the-box approach shouldn't just be viewed as an outlier in an industry notorious for conformity. If anything, automakers should have been taking notes. In today's social media-obsessed world where breaking news is only relevant for an hour or two, Ford managed to land the GT on the front pages of car sites seemingly every single week, usually without having to release or leak info. Autocar is saying that a second round of orders for the next 500 GTs could be taken as quickly as this time next year. Hopefully Ford brings its unique ordering process back for 2017, although by that time it may not be considered special anymore.