Alternative marketing thinking

iCONTRACT

Ford gets the social marketing mojo

Some months ago we spoke about Ford’s fiesta movement. Now that Phase 1 has come to an end, it’s time to look back at what Ford’s gained from the effort. Grant McCracken writing about the activity thinks the company has got social marketing just right. Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car — virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford pre-sold many thousand units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign. To sum up the campaign again: Ford gave 100 consumers a car for six months and asked them to complete a different mission every month. And away they went. At the direction of Ford and their own imagination, “agents” used their Fiestas to deliver Meals On Wheels. Grant quotes Bud Cadell, from Undercurrent, the agency that created the Fiesta Movement “The idea was: let’s go find twenty-something YouTube storytellers who’ve learned how to earn a fan community of their own. [People] who can craft a true narrative inside video, and let’s go talk to them. And let’s put them inside situations that they don’t get to normally experience/document. Let’s add value back to their life. They’re always looking, they’re always hungry, they’re always looking for more content to create. I think this gets things exactly right. Undercurrent grasped the underlying motive (and the real economy) at work in the digital space. People are not just telling stories for the sake of telling stories, though certainly, these stories have their own rewards. They were making narratives that would create economic value.” Grant has some deep insights on why the campaign worked. Fiesta’s campaign worked because it was founded on fair trade. Both the brand and the agent were giving and getting. And this shows us a way out of the accusations that now preoccupy some discussions of social media marketing. With their gift economy approach, Ford and Undercurrent found a way to transcend all the fretting about “what bright, shining object can we invent to get the kids involved?” and, from the other side, all that “oh, there he goes again, it’s the Man ripping off digital innocents.” It’s a happier, more productive, more symmetrical, relationship than these anxieties imply. A must read for anyone interested in how brands can engage with social media. And according to Scott Monty, the social media guru at Ford, the company is already soliciting applications for the second installment of Fiesta Movement.

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