The company ramped up its pre-launch efforts yesterday with an updated microsite. An ongoing teaser online campaign has already attracted more than 1 million visitors.
The new Web site offers a first glimpse of the advertising direction, with a video ad in which the vehicle seems--thanks to special effects--to drive, on two wheels, along the edge of a building cornice, several floors up, then down the cables of a suspension bridge, and through a tunnel.
"We like to call the new site 'edge-u-tainment,'" said Barry Redler, SUV and crossover group brand manager at Ford. "[We're] showing Edge in an informative way that's relevant because these [target] consumers are on the Web doing everything. It's where they get information, do banking, etc.--and they need to have a good reason to spend time with us."
Redler said the digital campaign includes social networking components.
Ford sees the Edge as serving two roles for the company. As the next big thing in crossovers--the fastest-growing segment in the industry--it's both a tool for attracting new buyers, and a way to keep Ford owners in the family who might have been looking at competitive vehicles.
Redler said Ford has attracted 1.2 million visits to the pre-launch site, and some 320,000 designed their own Edges. "We have about 20,000 orders from our dealers," he said.
One thing Ford is counting on is to avoid a repeat of its experience with Freestyle, a larger crossover that did not sell strongly, and is being discontinued after the 2007 model year.
Dan Gorrell, president of Gorrell Group, Tustin, Calif., said it's unlikely Edge will follow Freestyle, partly because Freestyle was too much like a station wagon, and not enough like an SUV in design.
"Edge is better styled and well priced," he said. "And I think its timing is good. It's in the market when those segments are expanding, and I think Ford needed sorely to have an entry here."