I recently happened upon Ford's new social media marketing campaign that surrounds the re-launch of their Fiesta car. After looking into the campaign at length, I've decided I want to do a three part series on it (or four, if I feel so inclined), analyzing it in detail. Why? Because I think the campaign sucks - a lot. However, I think that there is a lot that can be learned from taking a closer look at Ford's mistake.
If you need filling in, Ford recently selected 100 "Agents," as they've dubbed them, to test out the 2010 Ford Fiesta for the next 6 months. These Agents are all Millennials, and social influencers. Ford selected these Agents by their geographical dispersion and their affinity towards social media; aka the more digital friends they had, the more likely they were to get a car. According to Ford: "[The] 100 agents are spending six months behind the wheel of their own Fiesta, sharing their experiences, and completing monthly missions to show you what experiencing the Ford Fiesta is all about, way in advance of the U.S. launch in 2010."
This sounds about as exciting as a colonoscopy.
I don't care what car you drive, a morning commute is a morning commute; it sucks, it's boring, and nobody talks about it in a positive manner. I've yet to hear someone tell me "wow, my experience driving to work this morning was exceptional, and it's all because of the new car I bought!" All you hear about is how much traffic sucked that morning, where the accidents were, how long you waited at the staggered onramp light. So please tell me Ford, why would I ever care about someone's daily "experience" driving your car? If the Agents are not writing about how much their commute sucked, they're probably not being honest.
I could understand it if it was something like a Land Rover, and they were writing about all of the cool off roading they did, or a Wrangler and how they made it up to the mountain to board despite the crazy snowfall that kept everyone else at home. But let's be honest about it, it's a hatchback – it's not much of a game changer.
This leads me to wonder if Ford knows how Word of Mouth Marketing (Viral marketing to the cool kids) actually works. While I don't have any qualms with them basically purchasing Fiesta fanboys (and girls), I actually think that was a strategic move, the topic isn't something that's actually going to provoke more consumers to pass along their message. Consumers are going to pass along a link/brand/commercial/video whatever, if it is something that they like and find valuable or entertaining. It doesn't matter how much you pay your Agents to pass along your campaign, if the campaign isn't interesting, then the consumers that the Agents share your message with will not continue to pass it along via Word of Mouth. If they really wanted to reach Gen Y, as they stated, they should have had a campaign that appealed to Gen Y's interests and not just their communication channels.
What Ford did well:
- Identified the "influencers" of social media
- Beautifully designed website
- Careful launch along with New York International Auto Show
What Ford did wrong:
- Unexciting campaign
- Nothing (good) that will drive consumer Word of Mouth
-- Now Let Me Clear My Throat --