Ford Launches Fiesta With Young, Social Media-Savvy Influencers

2013 Ford FiestaInspired by marketing in the gaming and tech industry, Ford decided to invest in a “pre-launch” for the automaker’s Fiesta model, looking to create buzz and “develop demand before the product even really exists.”

Social media was an essential tool for this campaign, allowing potential consumers to “opt in” if they were interested in learning about the newer model.  Ford used to social to gain essential product feedback – before it was even on the market – and to dramatically increase awareness about the Fiesta, by using influencers to spread the word.

Ford began with concerns that hyping the new model would mean a total lack of interest in existing models. “If you talk about the new product, who would buy the old one?” asked Jim Farley, group VP of global marketing, sales and service for Ford Motor Co.  However, social media allowed people to self-select. “They weren’t going to buy the old car anyway, so we could show them the product a year ahead of time,” Farley told MediaPost.

The company then had time to respond to feedback from potential buyers, about anything from liking the European colors better to wanting a cupholder “sized to their Red Bull.”

While Ford was responding to the requests of potential buyers, they faced another major issue: the Ford Fiesta had “zero name-plate recognition” in the U.S.  The plan? Enlisting 100 “social-media whiz kids” to drive Ford Fiesta models for six months.  The payoff? “Ford didn’t launch the car; our Fiesta agents did. Auto writers interviewed these agents, not executives, and it produced 28 million views,” Farley told MediaPost.

Before Ford ran even one traditional ad, the brand had created 60% nameplate awareness for the Fiesta. According to Farley, these results “showed me the power of social media.”  The campaign was so successful that Ford now sets aside 20% of every launch budget for “pre-launch activities.”

What do you think of this campaign – particularly in comparison to Chevy’s Klout-based campaign for the Chevrolet Sonic?