In a bid to engage customers well before the launch of the Ford Ecosport, the carmaker has launched a 360-degree campaign, ‘Urban Discoveries’. The campaign will have digital at its core, with a microsite running a contest inviting people in 12 cities to 'discover' little known spots in these cities. The winner will drive away with a Ford Ecosport.The campaign has been created by Global Team Ford.
In conversation with Campaign India, James Farley, executive vice president - global marketing, sales, service, Lincoln Motor Company, and Vinay Piparsania, executive director - marketing sales and service, Ford India, explain the concept, Ford’s digital push, and more.
Campaign India (CI): What's the thought behind the 'Urban Discovery' campaign for the launch of the Ecosport?
James Farley (JF): The approach is to generate interest in the vehicle many months before it is available in the market. We wanted to create authentic conversations on a large scale using the digital platform to generate interest about the vehicle. We wanted to invert the traditional way of communication in India, and accordingly have launched a digital-centric campaign. Other media will also be used in the campaign, but everything will be around digital. It's not Ford that is talking to people, but it's the people talking amongst themselves. We'll amplify this by using social, digital and even traditional media. This campaign will lead to the launch. It's a simple idea, yet new for the auto industry in India.
Vinay Piparsania (VP): With the EcoSport pre-launch campaign, we have the whole opportunity to engage with the consumer. It's a way of how we'll be a part of his life; we're trying to get an emotional connect with real people through real world experiences.
CI: There is a view that Ford’s advertising and marketing in India is not as aggressive as that of some other players here. Is that true?
JF: We are a challenger brand in India. We can't challenge the other brands in the country by spending lots of money on advertising. We need to be effective instead.
CI: How is the profile of the Ford buyer changing? Is s/he getting younger? What is the case in India?
JF: The centre of the universe for Ford is moving East. We are also looking at lower price points now, as our consumer is getting younger. By nature, we are launching vehicles that are very different from the Ford of old. We were first known for very large vehicles, now we're looking at the other end. Globally, the way we are promoting our cars and who we are promoting it to, is also changing.
CI: Ford has been acknowledged as a front-runner in social media and digital engagement. What's driving this thinking? In markets like India, especially, are you moving a tad ahead of the curve consciously? Could there be a flip side to this, in terms of losing out on traditional media engagement? (Or is every customer who fits the profile of a Ford owner digitally savvy?)
JF: The target profile that we are engaging with sees digital as a big part of their profile. Among all the countries, India has shown the biggest response to our digital campaigns. If you look at us now, we are surrounded by smart phones and apps. This has already caused a transformation. I think that the biggest advantage is that India, as a country, is one of the largest consumers of Facebook. So, it's natural that any campaign we do now has to leverage digital. When you have an innovate product, like we do, innovation is required in communication too. Following our campaign for the Figo and Fiesta, we realised that 60 per cent of our consumers say that digital is their first source of information. This wasn't the case until a few years ago.
(Read the full interview in the issue of Campaign India magazine dated 8 March 2013)