Sears Auto Center is revisiting its "Exploring My America" contest, which it introduced last year at the top of the late spring and summer driving season. The effort is a promotion dangling "dream journeys" in the U.S.
The company is featuring eight such road trips as prizes in a consumer-content effort located at ExploringMyAmerica.com. To get a shot at the road trips, people have to make and upload video pitches to the site. A panel will select finalists and there will be a final public online vote to choose two teams to participate in each road trip.
The effort takes a social-media turn when the winners are obliged to chronicle their trips on the contest Web site, Sears Auto Center's Facebook site, Twitter and YouTube.
The first trip, with a motorsports theme, is to the Coke Zero 400 race at Daytona International Speedway in late June with a May 29 deadline for videos.
Joe Finney, president of Sears Automotive, said the focus of the trips last year was on great American roadways and that this year will be about favorite destinations. The effort also features trips to pro baseball games, a music festival, a spring break destination and college and pro football games.
Each of the teams chosen to do the trips (comprising a minimum of two people and a maximum of four) get $1,500 for food, gas, lodging and other expenses. They don't get a vehicle, but they do get a 21-point inspection from Sears and tires and services from Sears brands like DieHard. They will also receive $500 in Sears Auto Center store credit.
Each team also gets a hi-def camcorder and Wi-Fi card for v-blogging. The participants have to interact with people they encounter, find interesting stories and file them to the site. Each team's car will also be outfitted with temporary Sears Auto Center and sponsor signage to identify the traveling crew.
Finally, Sears Auto is offering a grand prize for the teams that do the best video blogging on the road, with online voting determining the winning team. Sears is priming the voting pump by entering those who vote for the videos in a random drawing for prizes.