The car marque is laying the groundwork to use social media to attract different customers as it accelerates away from focusing its online channels solely on awareness building. Previous initiatives adopted a campaign mentality but Ford believes an always-on approach is now needed to generate value from branded content.
A real-time strategy is being developed across Europe to facilitate the plan, underlined by Ford’s efforts to make accessibility, transparency and authenticity the point of difference of its content. Customer assistance teams alongside other divisions such as IT and legal are being called upon to speed up content generation so that customers and fans feel like they are having a “two-way dialogue” with the brand, Ford says.
The business introduced initial elements from the strategy around this year’s Champions League final when it worked in partnership with its bespoke WPP agency Blue Hive and social media agency Snack Media to promote the European launch of the Mustang. A combination of influencers, TV, paid and earned media sold 500 pre-orders within the first 30 seconds of the match, the car maker claims.
While similar to existing approaches, Ford says future plans will use data to ensure content is connecting with the right consumers. For instance, the brand connects with technology enthusiasts to push the popular online show “This Week in Tech”, where Ford’s products such as the “MyFord” are often promoted. Future campaigns for Mustang as well the Smart Utility Vehicles (SUV) and the Vignale luxury proposition will adopt the strategy moving forward.
A spokesman for the business says the pan-European push is inspired by efforts in the US to place “the product in the hands of consumers and support them in sharing”. Blue Hive, an agency formed in 2010 to work across all Ford of Europe accounts, is supporting the plan by wrapping content around events and utilising the media for launches.
“The most compelling communications come from real people discussing your product so we aim to facilitate conversations and not broadcast”, adds the spokesman. ”What worked particularly well [for the Champions League] was that this wasn’t just a marketing activit, we integrated all consumer-facing parts of Ford so had customer assistance “live chatters” and community managers from our major markets alongside the communications teams and the team generating real time content.”
The content charge epitomises Ford’s aggressive push to take the company into new sectors of the European market with more than 25 new vehicles to be prepped for the region over the next five years. Ford, the world’s fifth largest automaker by sales, saw sales across the region drop 2.1 per cent for the year but predicts a gradual increase in European demand this year.
Revenue in its most recent quarter was up slightly up to $35.9bn (£20.9bn) compared to the 35.6bn (£20.8bn) the previous year.