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Ford Hosts a Taurus Tweetup in Denver

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As part of a 100-city social media blitz to promote its 2010 Taurus, Ford descended upon Denver last night to host a tweetup where attendees could inspect the new car and test-drive it on our rain-slicked streets. I was among the local bloggers they invited to Katie Mullen's downtown and observed the following:

The mileage on the new Taurus doesn't seem very 2009
I went on three separate test drives with three different drivers. On the second of these trips, tech blogger Dave Taylor asked the Ford rep about the car's mileage. The response amounted to between 16 and 19 miles per gallon. Taylor was notably surprised that Ford is doing such a big push for a vehicle with such low mileage when so many motorists are looking to save money on gas.

As someone who regularly commutes from Boulder to Denver, I agree. It's a formidable and daunting market for automobile sales -- doubly so for a model whose name has slipped in public favor over time. Better mileage would have been a great way to reintroduce the car to younger buyers.

Though they may not get the whole fuel thing, Ford gets social media
Most of us in the social media sphere have heard about Ford's Fiesta Movement, where a small group of new media influencers were each given a Ford Fiesta to drive and document for six months. It was a nod to experiential media, whereby "Trust us" marketing gives way to "Test us" marketing.

Organizing a series of tweetups throughout the U.S. to promote its new Taurus seems like a continuation of that new focus. Bloggers from Mile High Mamas, About.com and a few other sites milled around the pleasantly unstructured event, asking questions and, in general, kicking Ford's tires after so many years of commercial spin.

I tend to associate Ford with old ways of thinking, but the no-pressure vibe of the Taurus tweetup was evident throughout. I was able to chat with Executive Director of North American Product Programs Frank Davis and he seemed human -- not a walking dispensary of Ford mantras and safe words. Even the informational pamphlets were unobtrusively distributed.

If 2009 is the year that Ford finally began listening, I'm glad that a few Denver voices rose above the din. If they're smart, they won't let the conversation end when they depart for Michigan.

For tweets from the event, search #fordtaurus on Twitter.