Ford gets real with The Fiesta Experience

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | August 22, 2011
Digital media and social networking have been explored to the fullest in the new campaign.

More than a month after launching its new sedan Fiesta, Ford India unveiled an innovative campaign that focusses on real people and their experiences. The campaign, called 'The Fiesta Experience', features four young individuals from different walks of life and their real experiences, driving the all-new Fiesta across a 10-day, 1,310 km drive from Delhi to Diu.

These four individuals were shortlisted from 700 applications from across the country, based on their personality traits, availability and their vibrancy on the social networking websites. The four participants featured in the campaign are video journalist Vikram Aditya Singh, Monica Joon, a professional sportsperson, Shruti Sharma, a travel writer, and adventure consultant Archit Rakheja.

The drive started in the third week of July and ended on July 30. The reactions of the individuals were recorded on a camera, fixed in the car. These captured footages were fed concurrently to YouTube and Facebook. The feeds on the social networking sites attracted responses from the respective friend circles of the four participants. The involvement of an acquaintance in the activity helped generate a lot of interest, engagement and interactivity, resulting in a ripple effect across the social network.

Owing to this innovative social media strategy, the company claims to have witnessed a four-time increase in the number of website visitors, 80,000 views of event live-streams, and over 60,000 impressions per video feed. It also attributes 60 per cent of the sales leads generated to this activity.

The company maintains to have not paid 'a penny' to the four participants. The only cost involved for the promotion across the social network was the technical cost of managing and capturing the 10-day drive. Following this innovation, Ford India launched its conventional ads and promotions across print and television.

The conventional ads compile the experiences recorded over a period of 10 days. At the heart of the campaign is the concept of 'word-of-mouth publicity'. After presenting the new campaign, Anurag Mehrotra, vice-president, marketing, Ford India, tells afaqs!, "Our research told us that a recommendation by a friend or an acquaintance and word-of-mouth publicity play an important role while taking a decision on a car purchase."

By focussing directly on engagement of real people and their experiences, Ford India aims to build an instant connect with the audience. "We let them experience the product, express the experience in their own words and then ploughed their experience into our communication," adds Mehrotra.

The company wanted to adopt an innovative approach by putting the customer at the heart of its activities for the new Fiesta. Nigel E Wark, executive director, sales and marketing, Ford India, tells afaqs!, "Business is about customers and having the right products for our customers. People are evolving, and hence, there is continuous evolution of communication and the media of communication.

"We wanted to focus on digital and interactive media in order to strike a chord with our consumers. We found out that more than television or print, our consumers consume a lot of information from the internet, mobile phones and tablets. We wanted our communication to be in sync with their media consumption patterns."

Wark also mentions a small research conducted on a consumer named Ajay, titled 'A day spent with Ajay'. This research helped the company to understand the media consumption and reception pattern of its average customer.

Mehrotra adds that the communication is designed in such a way that it is compatible with the various types and tribes of phones available in the market. He believes that the tablet is the 'next big thing' in India, and is due to expand its presence amongst the Indian consumers. "We designed HTML5-based ad formats to avert any technical barriers for our mobile ad campaigns. We have a strong ad presence on tablets and have also advertised on the travel section of BlackBerry Playbook. In fact, 40 per cent of the shared inventory on the NDTV website of Apple iPad is occupied by Fiesta."

The campaign aims to target the age group of 28-32 years from the Tier I and Tier II cities of India. It is created by JWT India, Delhi branch, which manages the entire account of Ford India. The media mandate is handled by Mindshare.

The Fiesta Experience campaign follows the Ford Figo Discover Smart Drive campaign across India. The company has also shifted focus largely to digital and experiential marketing. It has exponentially increased its spend on the digital medium. From a mere 2-3 per cent of the media spend, it had increased the digital spend substantially to more than 7 per cent for the Ford Figo. For the new Fiesta, Ford has more than doubled its spends on the digital media, taking it to a sizeable 15 per cent of the overall media budget.

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