By Richard Truesdell
Although an outside observer, I've had a life-long fascination with the inner workings of automotive marketing and advertising. And as someone who believes social networking has little to do with "moving the needle to move the metal," I watched with amusement the announcement this week that General Motors is pulling $10 million in advertising from Facebook on the eve of its highly hyped IPO Friday.
Ford, on the other hand, seems to be doubling down its involvement in the social-networking universe, increasing its Facebook presence just as the marketing folks at GM are cutting theirs. Is this just another way of saying that GM is old school, while Ford is cutting edge?
I don't watch much network television (and might even be the only person in America who's never seen an episode of American Idol from start to finish), so I had to read in The Detroit News and on Forbes.com that Ford just launched a new worldwide advertising and marketing program called "Go Further."
And, as expected, the campaign has an integrated social-networking component. The Ford marketing team hopes it will connect the brand with new car buyers and the innovative products the company is bringing to market in several sectors.
The first "Go Further" TV spot on American Idol featured five vehicles with no brand identity. At the end of the spot was a web address, GoFurther.com, where the identity of the brand and the five vehicles were revealed: the 2012 Ford Focus Electric3, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid3, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi3, the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid3, and the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi3.
This was a gutsy move, designed both to attract attention and to drive sales on both coasts--where Ford's market share falls below its national average and where it still competes less successfully with import brands like Toyota and Honda. With these spots, the company is admitting that the biggest obstacle in marketing Ford products is the Ford brand itself.
After the unbranded spots ran initially, they were quickly replaced