Ford to extend pre-launch campaigns

Ford is to extend the length of pre-launch marketing activity for future models after hailing the success of activity to promote the B-Max family car.

Ford to lengthen pre-launch activity

The car launched last week after six to nine months of promotion – the longest period of activity Ford has ever rolled out ahead of the introduction of a new model.

A further pan-European advertising campaign highlighting its unique wide opening door frame that combines hinge and slide doors to open as wide as 1.5metres, is due to launch later this month.

Pre-orders for Ford B-Max have already reached 1,000 cars – the equivalent of £20m in sales – higher than the car maker would normally see.

Anthony Ireson, Ford UK marketing director, told Marketing Week that a longer period of pre-launch activity is likely to be replicated for future model launches, particularly for cars that are in new segments of the market.

Car manufacturers have traditionally opted for more intense “episodic” pre-launch marketing traditionally seen in the automotive market.

The shift is driven by consumer interest in new product development from car brands, and the availability of information between regions that didn’t used to exist. Ford, and other car marques, used to restrict information about models based on when and where they were due to launch. Now it makes more sense to embrace the exchange of information rather than hide behind it and let the “rumour mill spin,” he says.

Ireson says: “Previously marketing was slightly condescending to customers by not talking about new models until two weeks before launch. It was often regarded as negative, but now we take the front footed approach and because people want to talk about it we may as well embrace that.”

He adds that the challenge for Ford’s marketers is that it is more complex to manage a number of new model launches at the same time, rather than focussing on one launch campaign at a time.

Meanwhile, the automotive brand is also looking to focus its campaign activity using fewer channels that achieve its business objectives more effectively rather than using every available channel every time.

He cites a partnership with The Telegraph and Global Radio as part of the B-Max campaign offering readers and listeners access to exclusive events over the summer as an example of how Ford is focussing its efforts.

Ireson says: “Sometimes you can spread yourself too thin and not make an impact. We’ve got to focus down and stop getting distracted [by the multiple new channels available. It [the channel] has got to work for what you want it to. [The Global and Telegraph campaign] had a great impact without a social Twitter or Facebook elements, but other campaigns might be Facebook only.”

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