For The Newhouse Eric Mower Advertising Forum’s first spring event, Matt VanDyke, Director of Marketing Communications at Ford in the U.S., brought to life a presentation entitled “Breaking Out of the Box.” After quickly detailing Ford’s recent history in the automotive industry and its future plans, VanDyke explained the company’s thriving marketing efforts in traditional and non-traditional arenas, including print, TV, and radio as well as within the erupting digital arena.
In an effort to revive the automobile manufacturer after the hard-hitting 2008 recession, VanDyke and the Ford Marketing team focused on a single mission: to improve consumer opinion and consideration of Ford in comparison to its U.S. competition. Four main automobile qualities were found to interest consumers the most: Quality, safety, green operating ability/fuel economy, and technology. Ford built on these interests, developing a campaign centered on engaging the consumer in order to create an open conversation, not merely the one-way dialogue produced by the usual mass television and print advertisements.
Uniting the company’s marketing teams across the globe, Ford narrowed the number of different platforms or messages presented to the public. A constant stream of communication allowed teams in every country and continent to measure the success or failure of inventive social media marketing strategies presented in a test country. By employing interested consumers to become “agents,” Ford reintroduced their Fiesta model to the U.S.; allowing consumers to test drive the car for 6 months and in return to post a minimum of 6 responses to an online site. An overwhelming response of “agent” applicants as well as videos/posts from the chosen applicants led to an explosion of online attention from consumers and media outlets. With a 56% vehicle familiarity before the Ford Fiesta was even officially launched, the campaign was labeled a success and propelled Ford to be named one of the Top 10 social media brands by Ad Age.
Extending the success of the Fiesta campaign, Ford has begun a similar effort for the Ford Focus entitled the Ford Focus Rally. Instead of spending money on traditional media when the cars first roll onto dealer lots, Ford has developed a Pre-Launch, Launch, and Post-Launch method of advertising, a combination of social media and traditional advertising used to enact the fullest potential of consumer interaction and response.
VanDyke’s clear and concise presentation of Ford’s inspiring work was well worth the time. For someone who knows very little about cars, I now, as a consumer, feel very informed and empowered. Ford’s strategy of putting the consumer’s interests first isn’t revolutionary, but the way the company went about proving their intentions was ingenious. The Ford Marketing Communications team was named Ad Age’s 2010 Marketer of the Year, a well-deserved honor for incredible work that has certainly raised the bar.