|Ford's Gone Scrappy
By: Don McLean
Engagement. That is one of the key ideas behind getting consumers involved in your brand. After the American auto industry had their troubles, Ford had to reinvent the way it did its marketing or it would fail. One of the ways they did it was through engagement.
In a presentation at Madonna University by Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales, and Service at Ford Motor Company, he said the company is “…very scrappy. Big, but scrappy.” What Farley meant by being scrappy is that the company changed their thoughts towards marketing. "When I came, marketing was an afterthought to sales," he said. Farley changed all that. Ford had little time and money to get it right. They had to think on their feet and did not have any room for error.
Error they did not. Farley mentioned a number of scrappy marketing things the automaker did to reinvent the brand. These stood out the most:
These are just four examples of Ford's brand-building success. Every example has a couple things in common. One, it has never been done in the industry before. It is socially engaging. It is out-of-the-box. It also hits its target market dead on. Farley's bet on keeping the big automaker's marketing 'scrappy' was what some in the beginning may have seen as risky, but it paid off.
Focus ST Commercial: Ford closed down the streets at night in Key West. They brought in two new Focus STs and professional drivers. People gathered in the streets to watch the ‘race.’ Ford then asked those who came out to take video with their phones. Onlookers sent the videos to Ford and in the end it was the first user-generated cell phone commercial. It cost Ford virtually nothing. Watch the commercial.
Focus Movement: In the Focus Movement, Ford launched the 2012 Ford Focus with Doug the Puppet. This was the first launch of a car by way of sock puppet. Scrappy? I think so.
Mustang Customizer: Ford launched the Mustang Customizer, where consumers can go to the website and create their own new dream Mustang. Each week they list the fan-generated car of the week on their Facebook page. Ford's success with this customizer has gone so big that it has pushed Mustang to have the largest following of any car in the world on Facebook with 4.58 million likes and counting.
Random Acts of Fusion: For Random Acts of Fusion, Ford hired Ryan Seacrest and Joel McHale to give away 100 brand-new Ford Fusions all across America. The pair are giving away cars quicker than Elvis gave away Cadillacs. Along the way, Ford is filming a documentary. One look at 'Random Acts' and you can tell that it is a brand builder that is revolutionary for the likes of an automaker.
What ways could being scrappy pay off for other brands?
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.
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