REINVENTING FORD EXPLORER by Wpp for Ford

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REINVENTING FORD EXPLORER

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Industry Cars
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Agency Wpp
Released August 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Automotive and Transport
Advertiser: FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Product/Service: REBRANDING
Global Managing Director, 360° Digital Influence: John Bell (WPP Social Media)
Vice President, Digital Strategy: Kaitlyn Wilkins (WPP Social Media)
Senior Digital Strategist: Karen Untereker (WPP Social Media)
Content Activation Manager: Jessica Solloway (WPP Social Media)
Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy: Ian Sohn (WPP Social Media)
Media placement: Facebook Tabs (Pre-Launch) - Facebook - 5 July 2010
Media placement: Facebook Advertisement, Phase 1 - Facebook - 5 July 2010
Media placement: Conversation Management and Teaser Content - Facebook - 12-19 July 2010
Media placement: Facebook Advertisement, Phase 2 - Facebook - 12-19 July 2010
Media placement: Facebook Tabs (Launch) - Facebook - 26 July 2010
Media placement: Multimedia Content (videos, live event) - Facebook - 26 July 2010
Media placement: Facebook Advertisement, Phase 3 - Facebook - 26 July 2010
Media placement: Homepage Takeover Advertising - CNN, Yahoo, etc. - 26 July 2010
Media placement: Facebook Tabs (Post-Launch) - Facebook - 9 August 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Twenty years ago, the Ford Explorer defined the SUV market. By 2010, consumers needed something different. So Ford reinvented the Explorer, the SUV category and, subsequently, the way to introduce new vehicles to the market. We had to break out of the auto show mould with the 2011 Explorer Reveal and bring the all-new Ford Explorer to the people.

So, Ford took to the largest social network today - Facebook. Facebook fans would see the Explorer before anyone else via an exclusive vehicle reveal, and get access to Ford before, during and after reveal day. Subsequent media reveals in nine North American cities would come to life on Facebook, and a paid media push would help drive traffic and awareness.

We designed the strategic campaign to reposition the Explorer as the SUV for the 21st century and engage existing Ford fans, while creating relevance and awareness among those who may not otherwise have paid attention. Ford took an aggressive 360° approach that few companies today are employing – blending owned, earned and paid efforts to scale a social media program.
And it paid off. Big time.

The Situation
The Ford Explorer pioneered the SUV market 20 years ago and quickly became one of Ford’s all-time bestselling vehicles.

Over the last decade, rising gas prices, the creation of the crossover segment, and the over-saturation of the SUV category crippled vehicle sales. Simultaneously, Ford was struggling with relentless competition and the collapse of the US financial market in late 2008.

Ford decided to overhaul:
• Its business – instituting a One Ford plan to streamline product development
• How it communicated – focusing more on consumer media.
• The way it "revealed" vehicles – reaching consumers where they engage everyday

The Goal
The new Explorer needed to be repositioned as the SUV for the 21st century consumer. In addition, the program had to start with the reveal, but provide a platform for use through early 2011 when the vehicle would become available.
To meet these needs, the team sought to:
• Drive substantial online awareness around the reveal
• Build up a Facebook page of engaged fans to keep interested and active until vehicle availability
• Demonstrate the value of "leading with social" – proving that social media can play an integrated role in driving earned media, as well as vehicle sales.

The Strategy
Use social media to elevate the emotional story behind the reinvention of the Explorer, through exclusive, first-to-know content that encourages participation and sharing.

The strategy had to be applied to three launch phases, and utilize popular social channels (e.g. YouTube, Twitter, Flickr ) around a single Facebook hub where everything could be "liked", creating generational buzz on our fans’ newsfeeds.

• Pre-Launch, 6/24-7/26: Stimulate Facebook fan growth through a steady stream of exclusive teaser content and conversations, punctuated with truly engaging "firsts" on Facebook.

• Launch, 7/26: Apply strategic filter to creative and conversation in order to bring people back again and again.

• Post-Launch, 7/27-Winter 2011: Sustain the conversation and engagement, but place primacy on conversion - driving fans to FordVehicles.com.

Throughout, the car must remain the star - the story needed to remain the Explorer - not the innovative way in which it was revealed to the market.

Execution
Pre-Reveal:
- Landing Tab: Call-to-action encouraged people to "like" the page with 30,000 "likes" unlocking a Facebook-first vehicle giveaway.

- The Wall: A steady stream of teaser shots, videos, Q&As with Ford execs, and messages from Ford spokesperson Mike Rowe kept fans engaged. All activities supported by a Facebook media buy.

Reveal Day:
- Landing Tab: Interactive timeline unlocked hourly content. The world’s first look at the Explorer came before The Today Show debut via an emotional reveal video featuring the stories of the Explorer production team.

- The Wall: Execs like CEO Alan Mulally participated in livechats while the best content from all 9 cities was highlighted.

- Promotion
Traditional media supported the reveal
Ad takeovers on CNN, Yahoo! and other sites featured in-unit “liking.”

Post-Reveal:
- Landing Tab: Like-able “hot spot” Explorer touted features, pushed to FordVehicles.com.

Documented Results
Online Awareness:
- Top US search trend on Google, no.1 trending topic on Twitter
- 99MM social media impressions in three days
- Domination in social media (48,000 mentions) and positive share of voice (64%)

Engaged Fans:
- 1000% growth in fans to 60,000.
- 20% of fans came from friends’ newsfeeds – a result of the "like" strategy
- Facebook fans took 30,000+ actions
- Nearly 300,000 video views in two weeks

Value of Leading with Social:
Users who went from an ad unit to Facebook and THEN FordVehicles.com:
- Had 1% higher conversion rate for key buying activities than those who clicked from an ad to FordVehicles.com
- 77% of fans said the reveal positively impacted purchase consideration
- JumpStart media’s tracking showed 52% increase in "share of shopping" (2010 automotive Super Bowl advertisers saw 14%)

All this was achieved while keeping the "car the star" and redefining "Ford" to consumers.