I’m not a “car guy” and I don’t follow the situation in Detroit super closely, but from a Social Media perspective at least, Ford seems to be doing things differently, taking risks and making a genuine effort to change the perception of the company by engaging consumers in new and innovative ways.
Yesterday they kicked off what they call Fiesta Movement. In a nutshell, they are giving a Ford Fiesta (which will be available in the U.S. sometime in 2010) to 100 people so they can test drive it for six months. Ford is even throwing in the insurance and gas I believe. That’s a massive program with some serious logistics involved. The kickoff yesterday in New York involved test drives on the streets of Manhattan and an early evening Tweetup at Nero.
Ford, to use a football term, was ‘flooding the zone’ on this one, with Scott Monty, Ford’s Social Media guy; Rohit Bhargava of Ogilvy PR; and the gang from Undercurrent (Julia Roy, Bud Caddell with additional support from Mike Arauz) all pushing this thing forward. That a lot of horsepower.
The results? PSFK was very positive in their review of the Fiesta, and The Wall Street Journal gave the campaign a lengthy write-up. The chatter on Twitter was overwhelmingly positive from what I saw.
I’m intrigued to see how this goes, especially the content generated from the 100 ‘agents’ who have been given Fiestas. They’ll be posted videos to YouTube, using Flickr and blogs as well to tell their stories. 100 people for six months will generated a massive amount of content that will be (ideally) interesting to consumers, but should also yield incredibly valuable data for Ford.
As Social Media platforms are adopted by more and more consumers (and brands) it will be more difficult for marketers to stand out. Ford is wisely hedging their bets by producing a massive amount of content. I’m sure they realize that some percentage of the 100 won’t produce compelling content, but if four or five do, that could be enough. If the program is ultimately successful, I think you’ll see more companies adopt this ‘saturation bombing’ technique, and some won’t do it as well as Ford/Ogilvy/Undercurrent.