Monday, 4 May 2009

Ford Fiesta - Online Fail?

Not enough bloggers in region to drive campaign, says Ford

Do they, indeed?

The excellent Dima Hmadi in today's Emirates Business 24x7 reports on Ford's international campaign to launch its new Fiesta model by getting 100 bloggers to test drive the car that shares its name with one of the London Rubber Company's finest products.

According to Hmadi's story, young trendsetters will 'live' with the car for six months, travelling as 'agents' on 'special missions' who'll report on their experiences using a variety of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Fiesta, says the story, has more than 300 fans on the Fiesta Movement Facebook page and over 600 followers on the @FordFiesta Twitter account.

Gasp! 600 followers on Twitter? What an international runaway success! Er... not.

The story goes on to outline how Ford has been 'innovating' in the Middle East, with an auction of 24 specially painted Fiestas taking place on souq.com. The auction attracted an overwhelming 70 bids which, according to a 'well informed observer' was seen as a very good response.

70 bids for 24 cars? That's 2.9 bids per car. A good response? Er...not.

And then the story goes on to make the statement that got my little goat: "Bloggers invited to offer their inputs from around the region, however, generated no response."

The Ford spokesperson goes on to waffle dramatically about online media in a terribly authoritative way, including Ford's 'non-traditional approach' to online promotion. This included a Social Media Release (SMR) that "contained Special Edition Fiesta information, special video content, images and press releases targeted to key print and online media."

Wooooaaaah there! A "social media release" was targeted at "key print and online media"???

Aren't we missing something here, Ford?

"The SMR received extensive coverage within the online community" apparently, although I can't recall anyone posting about Ford Fiestas and, in fact, a Google Blog Search yields zilch from Middle East blogs. And so does a Technorati search...

The banner advertising generated 16.7 million impressions, though, prompting over 30,000 click-throughs for more information on their homepage - and the emailer campaign generated approximately 1,700 consumer responses and another 5,000 consumers were sent "racing" to souq.com.

So, Ford sent out some emailers, put up some banner ads, sent out an 'SMR' to the wrong people, generated a woeful response to an auction, a sad Facebook membership and a tiny Twitter following.

Did Ford or any of its representatives contact anyone out there about this campaign? Bloggers? Did you "fail to respond" or did they "fail to contact you"???

If they didn't, as I suspect, contact a single damn blogger, then it would be the final nail in this woeful and mendacious account of a campaign that wasn't a social media campaign or an innovative online campaign at all.

It was a fail.

Some US reaction, from the first page of Google blogsearch results, to the campaign, BTW - because I couldn't find any Middle East coverage online beyond AME Info. Perhaps someone from Ford could put me right...

http://blogs.edmunds.com
"Ford's idea for a video contest to pick the winners was brilliant, but the entertainment value of the videos, pics and tweets that will emerge over the next several months is questionable. I mean, as nice as the Fiesta may be, it's still just an entry-level economy car."

http://toughsledding.wordpress.com
"Fiesta Movement is, at its worst, payola. Or if you prefer, blogola. And it’s the same sort of blogola that’s created huge dust-ups back in ‘07. For some background, try here, here and here. Simply put, by offering a free car, free fuel and free insurance to the agents, Ford has co-opted its agents’ messages. The moment these “socially vibrant” influencers took Ford’s booty, they became paid shills."

8 comments:

Tom Gara said...

"In the GCC, which accounts to half of the Ford exports around the world"

Incredible figure, if true, which I seriously doubt....

Anonymous said...

You seem to be appalled that they didn't contact you, I mean appalled that you didn't get to test-drive the car for 6 months.

Mai said...

@Anonymous 11:23
I don't think anyone's personally offended for not being contacted. We are waiting for ONE blogger from the region to say he/she has been contacted. Anyone? Hello? U there?

(silence)

But then again look at the agenda of the Arab Media Forum next week. The entire speaker panel includes ONE BLOGGER, from Algeria. Well done to him, but ONE?

http://twurl.nl/x5dton

And they didn't even bother putting a link to his blog on the site.

Dima Hamadeh said...

Ford's PR agency called this morning to ask about my source of information on the bloggers bit. Well, that was Ford themselves.
I have noticed something here, aside from all the unimpressive figures, aren't clients and their PR agencies supposed to be on the same page? Anyways, the agency refused to confirm or deny that part.

Seabee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seabee said...

What's the phrase - all mouth and trousers? Plenty of jargon but actually not understanding what they're talking about, which is all too typical of too-large companies.

Add me to the 'Not Contacted' column - but has anyone considered that bloggers wouldn't be seen dead in a Fiesta anyway?

tbenson1@ford.com said...

Hi Alex,

In response to your post we would like to clarify a few points:

The auction for the Fiesta campaign in the UAE was only for one car – the Special Edition Fiesta that was selected to be number 1 of 24; so the 70 bids were only for that number 1 Special Edition Fiesta.

We didn’t undertake a full-fledged blogger outreach programme. Only a few, UAE based media that have their own blogs, such as Kipp Report, Emarat Business, Adnation, etc, were sent information.

The initiative was part of an integrated marketing campaign that had a digital component. It was a success as we raised AED63,000 for charity through the auction. To date, all 24 Special Edition cars have already been sold.

Digital marketing initiatives are new to this market and we look forward to doing more. Thanks for your post and for the comments; we look forward to getting your perspective on future campaigns.

Theo Benson
Marketing & Product Manager
Ford Middle East

Fadi said...

It is weird. I linked to this post in my article about the subject but it doesn't show up here!

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