Inside Buick’s New ‘Touchy-Feely’ Test Drive – Forbes

Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015

At first blush this looks like something that might come straight out of The Onion, but it’s in fact legit.

Buick just announced it plans to woo buyers with what it’s calling the “24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive” that applies a gimmicky “new age” veneer to what otherwise seems like a terrific promotional idea. It’s arguably the most eccentric marketing ploy we’ve seen since Ford asked drivers to give their cars a “Feng Shui tune up” a couple of years ago.

The underlying concept is both sound and simple. A participating dealer lets a qualified car shopper take home a given Buick for a full day’s test drive so they can give it a good workout on familiar roads without being pressured by a salesperson occupying the passenger’s seat. Accompanying the daylong loan is access to an ensemble of videos, podcasts, digital images and even a recipe for a soothing fragrance, all intended to help minimize a prospect’s stress level while otherwise appreciating a model’s merits.

And that’s where it gets all touchy-feely. Included is a motivational podcast called “The Buick Road to Happiness,” created by “happiness researcher” Shawn Achor to foster “a driver’s sense of happiness and well-being.” Meanwhile, a podcast by actor and meditation coach Jeff Kober helps a tester “increase awareness, mental clarity and focus.”

The package also includes a custom yoga video created by Chad Dennis – billed as the “yoga instructor to the stars” – that takes viewers through a sequence of exercises that can be performed within the confines of a car (though not while actually driving) to “alleviate tension, improve physical perfomance and aid mental clarity and focus.”

And for those who still might find themselves stressed out over the course of a day’s drive, the package includes a series of calming digital images that illustrate a pressure point massage technique intended to “ease tension in the head, jaw, neck and shoulders.” This comes courtesy of someone called Dr. Dot, who Buick’s release calls, of course, the “masseuse to the stars.”

The final element to help car shoppers succumb to the allure of a new Buick is a fragrance that’s “designed to elevate and stimulate the senses.” Much to our chagrin, though one of the aroma’s co-creators is named Amanda Chantal Bacon, there’s no bacon involved, but rather a mix of wood, crystals and the scent of Choccachino Buick leather.

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