Ford Escapes to Coachella

Ford makes their mark on the popular music fest in Death Valley.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

When you think of Coachella, the massive outdoor music festival that fills the Indio desert just outside Palm Springs, Calif. for a couple weekends each summer, the Ford Motor Company might not leap to mind.

Sure. some of the kids who spent the weekend sparking up and checking out their favorite alternative (and mainstream) bands may have got out to Coachella in the Fords they borrowed from their parents, but the third largest auto maker in the world might seem an odd player in the cottage industry of product tie-ins that now plows into the desert right alongside all of the musicians.

But, Coachella presented Ford with the perfect opportunity to promote and demonstrate their new Ford-based NBC TV reality series, Escape Routes. Hosted by YouTube’s iJustine, The six episode Escape Routes will send six teams of two on adventure excursions/competitions built around the new Escape.

To promote both the car and TV series, Ford was sending journalists to other Escape Routes excursions like Napa Valley in April. You get the idea. Ford is on a push to make the Escape cooler and younger – while getting it scene in cool places.

Ford invited automotive and lifestyle journalists from across the country into Palm Springs to drive the 2013 Ford Escape around the hot, dusty mountains – and the hotter, dirtier music fans – during the festival’s first three days – as the event now runs the same program on consecutive weekends to meet ticket demand.

Ford is hoping that by teaming up the evolved 2013 Escape with stylish, often alternative outings that younger buyers with a little scratch in their pockets might enjoy. The next step for the Dearborn, Mich. auto giant is to convince those younger buyers that the Escape is a stylish, youth-centric choice for drivers looking to make their outings with small SUV comfort and cargo capacity.

With its updated exterior styling and fuel saving, green Ecoboost turbo-charged engine (optional), the looked at home on the sometimes ritzy Palm Springs streets and had enough oomph to get up the surrounding paved mountain trails.

Ford set up camp just outside the festival grounds at a private home taken over by musicians and transformed into the KROQ Coachella House. A small gathering of maybe 100 or so music fans with private invites or prize tickets were treated to short intimate sets by bands like The Hives, The Shins and Death Grips.

In between sets, fans could enjoy intimate interviews with the musicians, swim in the small lap pool, play a little pitch and putt golf or pet the horses who wandered the nearby paddock.

All the while, a couple proud, polished 2013 Ford Escapes were a sand pebble’s throw away – just to remind all in attendance that Ford was helping to pay for this party, too. Time and sales figures will tell if buyers in that prized “Coachella” age range are drawn to buy an Escape.