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The automotive industry has some of the savviest event marketers, practically inventing the product launch process. One way to get media access to the latest and greatest vehicles is through local ride and drive events staged all over the country. These take place on different terrains; everything from race courses to mud tracks, ice and even deserts.

Ride and Drive Events

Each event is typically focused on specific types of vehicles, a couple of examples include: The Motor Press Guild (MPG) hosts Droptops & Dirt, which combines comparisons on challenging roads and trails in off-road vehicles, as well as drives through scenic, twisty canyon roads in convertibles. The New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) hosts Winter Vehicle Test Day featuring courses on ice and in inclement weather. The Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA) features an event for convertibles, coined ‘Topless in Miami’ where many luxury vehicles like the Jaguar F-Type SVR, Rolls-Royce Dawn and Audi A5 can be found “cruising around topless.” Lastly, The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) features a truck rodeo, near the Longhorn River Ranch, where all the big bad trucks, SUVs and CUVs battle it out on tough, country roads for the highly sought after and prestigious awards that can be earned at the Texas Truck Rodeo.



Most recently Ann Marie, account manager, was at Mudfest with our client, the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). The annual event features the best trucks, crossovers and SUVs of the year, hosted by Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA). The ride and drive event showcases many different styles of vehicles from the luxury BMW X2, to the gritty Ram Rebel and everything in between; a wide array of vehicles are represented and put to the test each day.

The two day event, featuring 50 to 60 guests, is broken into two divisions; the Day 1 focus is sealed surfaces, where vehicles’ handling, precision, turning and speed are tested, along with back up cameras and other cutting edge technologies. The Day 2 focus is off-road courses where trucks and SUVs are taken over logs and through mud, and into trenches, testing each vehicle to its limit.

Media Involvement

Each ride and drive event is different, but in general have the same goals to test out new or improved vehicles by putting each one through a series of rigorous tests generally as a first look, new body or trim style or just new vehicle – this gives journalists the opportunity to evaluate, write and report on each vehicle tested. After two days of testing vehicles, 26 NWAPA media professionals evaluated vehicles and announced winners in many different categories based on performance. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4 was named top vehicle this year.

As for us, we’re already looking forward to next year.

Ann Marie Fortunate is an account manager supporting Franco’s automotive, tech and B2B clients. Email her at [email protected].

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