Social media spotlight: Ford Explorer’s “Go. Do” gets it done
Ford, along with Montana-based sports marketing and comms specialists Outside Media, launched a Facebook campaign earlier this month that lets users compete for a sponsored adventure in the new Ford Explorer 2011. While the campaign tactics itself are far from revolutionary, Ford continues to distance itself from the rest of the SUV pack, building the Explorer into the social brand of choice. Here’s the breakdown.
The Social Strategy: Ford’s most recent social campaign for the Ford Explorer SUV isn’t particularly eye-catching. The campaign, called “Go. Do. Adventures.“, asks weekend warrior types to upload aspirational videos, pics and essays to one of a variety of sites (yes, Facebook too) detailing their dream outdoor adventure. The most clever ideas will be awarded with a week-long trip in the new Ford Explorer 2011. The trip will be filmed in a series of shortish online films and then documented for (an easily-sharable) posterity.
“We want people to get out there and experience their environment with friends and family in a fresh new way, and the new Explorer is the best vehicle to do it in,” Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service, said at the outset of the campaign. “Ford has reinvented the Explorer, and with this new campaign we’re inviting consumers to be just as inventive by coming up with their ultimate adventure.”
Wait a second: a car company gives the keys to the public to record and share their adventures with the rest of the online public. Where have you heard this formula before? Right, here with the Volkswagen Tiguan and here with the Ford Focus.
Okay, so maybe not top marks for originality, but it’s probably best to view this campaign as part of a larger and more sustained effort by Ford to build the biggest following of outdoorsy SUV lovers. Last July, Ford got the SUV social community buzzing by debuting the Explorer 2011 on its Facebook page. And it offered anyone who liked the Ford Explorer Facebook page a chance to win one of the new Explorers. Without a doubt, this most recent campaign is a continuation of the build-up from last year. Talking more broadly, Eric Peterson, Explorer communications manager, said “This provides a platform for a larger audience to experience Explorer. We started the conversation by revealing Explorer on Facebook and are continuing to advance that dialogue online.”
The Result: The campaign officially started on February 9, a day when Ford Explorer Facebook page had about 139,000 fans. Today, three weeks later, the number of fans has increased to only 142,500. As shown in the daily and weekly fan growth rate graphs bellow, the Ford Explorer is well below the Facebook average.
But let’s not call this campaign a dud. Ford is navigating through a pretty rough sector at the moment. The SUV market, after all, is getting hit in the economic recession, and new green movements in the auto industry are making big cars seem, well, dirty. It’s pretty clear that the Ford Explorer marketing team is trying to tap into a small but dedicated niche of SUV supporters online then.
How are they doing overall? From our tally, the Ford Explorer is the most popular of all individual SUV brands on Facebook (see graph bellow).
Ongoing Analysis: The final outcome of this particular social campaign will have to wait until Ford selects its top contestants and the ensuing getaway videos are released to the online public. At that point, it will be interesting to see if Ford is able to cultivate any excitement from non-SUV fans. So far, its Facebook page is dominated by active family types and outdoors enthusiasts.
One thing is clear though. Over the past year Ford has taken a specific model and made it into the dominant brand in its market on social channels. It has distanced itself from the pack with by building a vibrant and loyal online following at a time when petrol prices are going through the roof and the green movement is on the attack.
Can Ford save the SUV though clever and sustained social media campaigns? Emissions make us gag, but we’ll try to stay optimistic.