Finally I’m writing about a social media campaign right here in my own back yard. It’s one that nicely integrates a number of social media spaces, including MySpace, Flickr and Twitter. The campaign is for the launch of the new 2009 Ford Fiesta in Germany. It’s geared (pun intended) to young drivers, who of course are digital and online community natives.
The first thing that caught my attention was the MySpace page and a promotion centered around the theme “Mitten im Jetzt” (This is now.) Friends of the page were invited to upload photos and videos. These were then displayed in MySpace and on a giant Ford Fiesta billboard on the Ku’damm, one of Berlin’s liveliest thoroughfares. Visitors to the page could vote for their favorites and winners received iPod touch players.
Links on MySpace connected people to Flickr, where those who joined the community again could upload photos related to the “This is now” theme. An interactive collage made from these consumer-generated photos enveloped the car on the Ford Fiesta launch web site. A Twitter feed kept people up-to-date on winners, additional activities and events around the launch, and specific times when photos and videos would be shown on the screen in Berlin.
What should have been better was the launch theme. “This is now” doesn’t feel like much of an idea to stimulate the creative juices of the YouTube generation. It lacks edge. It doesn’t take a stand. And how does it relate to the new Ford Fiesta? The Ford Fiesta is hip? The Ford Fiesta is “the choice of a new generation?” Been there, done that.
Contrast this with the recent “I am a PC” campaign from Microsoft. Different target, but similar mechanism. PC/Microsoft users were invited to post videos that were displayed on public screens across the country in the US. That initiative had a clear strategy at the heart of it — destroy the myth that PC users are uncool, uninteresting, establishment types, as portrayed in Apple advertising. PC users are just as creative and individualistic as Mac users, if not more. What PC user wouldn’t be motivated to get behind that and post a video?
Ford Fiesta earns kudos for attempting to appeal to young drivers through the social media and communities where they live online. But they missed the boat in failing to build that effort around a compelling idea, grounded in the values of the brand, that would really ignite the community. Perhaps that’s one reason that the number of MySpace “This is now” friends (1344) and photo entries (944), as well as Twitter followers (68), was nothing to set anyone’s spark plugs afire. And I wonder to what extent this effort did much of anything to get even those people to buy into the brand and spread the word about it.