Ford, Pandora Launch Cause-Marketing Effort


Ford and Web radio station Pandora are partners in a new cause-marketing push featuring artists John Legend and Jewel. 

The fourth-quarter campaign allows Pandora visitors to use the platform's social share feature to share a "mixtape" from playlists compiled by either artist. When a song is shared, Ford and Pandora will make a donation to the artist's charity of choice. Ford signed Pandora to its Sync platform earlier this year.

Promotional ads on Pandora with Ford branding feature the artists speaking about their favorite causes in short videos. The artists ask listeners to download their music and a portion of the paid fee is donated.

Matt VanDyke, director of U.S. marketing communications at Ford, and Tim Westergren, Pandora founder and chief evangelist, revealed the new program on Tuesday at the IAB Mixx conference on digital media as part of Advertising Week events in New York.



Ford is doing similar programs with This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcasts, Podtrac, and Revision3 Internet television that touts Ford products without traditional ads. The Revision3 program gave hosts of its tech culture show, Diggnation, a 2011 Ford Fiesta equipped with Ford Sync and asked them to talk about the Sync program with listeners.

Westergren says the program builds on efforts the media company started last year that had artists asking consumers to download their own favorite songs. "It's in our backyard; we are using musicians with connections to Pandora, and we can weave information about their upcoming tours and releases into the campaign," he says.

VanDyke said that Ford's marketing focus on its Sync product -- an in-vehicle media platform that allows passengers to stream content such as Pandora from their smartphones and other mobile digital devices to their vehicles' audio systems -- makes mobile apps a marketing opportunity.

"I look at this space and say if apps are a $4 billion business by 2012, we had better be active and learn how to engage with people ... for me as a marketer, most in-vehicle mobile advertising is bad and this gives us a platform to do work that is engaging."

But VanDyke said the company is not looking to monetize Sync by using it as an advertising space for third-party advertisers. "Right now, we are looking at it solely as a way for people to bring their devices into their cars without having to install other products. It creates consumer value to drive overall sales," he says.

Westergren said cars are the Holy Grail for Pandora because 50% of radio listening happens in vehicles. "We are excited about the prospect of making Pandora as ubiquitous as broadcast radio," he said, adding that 65 million people use Pandora and 40 million are using it on mobile devices.

Westergren said that since Pandora was founded on personalizing the music experience, it is essentially a "unicast" experience, allowing for targeted marketing. "Because you are having a one-on-one conversation you are no longer taking one message and blasting it out in a 'spray and pray' method. You can control messages to the individual receiving it. It allows us to tap into personalization and create meaningful messages at scale."


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