Ford is using digital media in a couple of totally disparate ways to talk about products and streamline the dealership experience.
First, the Dearborn, Mich., company is getting the word out early about its Focus ST performance variant, but the message is as much about Ford's status as a global car company under the "One Ford" strategy as it is about a specific global car.
The company is generating buzz about the factory-tuned Focus ST, which is really Ford's first bona-fide global performance car, by placing video and photography on social channels that offer a look at the car in its test phase, camouflage checkers and all. But a key message is that the testing is all over the world, since the car will be available everywhere Ford sells cars.
The company says the content, first on Ford's Facebook page (the company says it has about 300,000 fans), are about technical details, what it's like to drive the car, which is slated for a 2012 launch, and the stuff that went into making it.
The One Ford program to make the automaker much more efficient world wide are implied in the content, shot in places like Lommel in Belgium, the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, hot weather runs in Spain and the United States, and B-roads in the U.K. And they feature members of Ford's global Performance Vehicle team.
Jost Capito, a Europe-based director of Ford's Global Performance Vehicles group, is in one video, behind the wheel of the prototype talking about how road testing must take place in different regions under different situations. The film is shot at one of Ford's Europe test facilities. "We go to the UK, we go to Wales, we go to the Nürburgring, and the US and drive it in various regions there to make sure the setup is working everywhere the world; everyone gets the same tires, wheels and settings."
In a statement, Capito said the Facebook page gives Ford outreach to enthusiasts, who get a look at the final stages of development of the new Focus ST as it happens. "Social media gives us a rare opportunity to show enthusiasts how this car is progressing, gives insight into its technologies and builds excitement in this community as we finalize Focus ST's technical specifications."
The videos talk about what it is that a global-platform performance car has to have, and has live in-car footage of the vehicle being tested in different kinds of weather and road surfaces. They also get into the guts of the car's Torque Vectoring Control, the advanced Electronic Stability Program and innovations on the Ford EcoBoost engine.
At the other end of the purchase funnel, FordDirect, a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and its franchise dealers have launched a mobile service that gives people targeted information about Ford vehicles they're interested in via text messages.
The program, via Seattle-based mobile marketing and advertising company Hipcricket, localizes print and television advertising, using it as a launch pad for mobile info on vehicles a consumer is interested in and offering deals in his or her region. If one sees a TV ad about the Fusion car he or she can text "Fusion" to a short code to receive local offers. If people then enter a zip code, they get local incentives. They also can opt in to be contacted by a dealer. The company says FordDirect's Mobile Marketing Texting Service has generated a 14% lead conversion rate.