On the 18th July, the city of Detroit, the birthplace of the US car industry and of major motoring brands including Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and of course the Ford Motor Company, applied for bankruptcy protection after its debts spiralled to over $18bn (£12bn). Since then, a Michigan state judge has ordered the plan’s withdrawal, arguing that the proposal threatened pension benefits, but this event demonstrates yet again that the area is suffering badly from sixty years of decline.
As a form of response, the manufacturer of the Model T, Escort and Fiesta amongst many others has placed an emphasis on sponsoring a range of activities. This has included the UEFA Champions League and Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, the radio stations Xfm and TalkSport, the five New Zealand rugby union franchises plus the Autopia ride at various Disneyland resorts. In addition, Ford has supported fundraising initiatives, for example the Lord’s Taverners, and is involved in a variety of motor sports, such as rally and drag racing.
The organisation also embraces a range of social networks. On YouTube for instance, there are numerous channels associated with their various operations, including two for their American and European divisions, which both feature over five hundred videos of stunts, interviews and insights into the work of executives, the manufacturing of their vehicles and subsequent marketing campaigns. This enabled me to find out something rather intriguing: they really did use a stuntman and pool to advertise the pillar free B-Max, rather than CGI!
Apart from this, Ford also has a significant presence on Facebook and Twitter, with pages once again for their motor racing, geographical, car make and brand divisions such as Mustang. In addition, the company gives customers the opportunity in the UK and US to ask questions about credit, parts and other issues. Furthermore, the world’s fifth biggest car maker also has a presence for their European clients on Flickr and Google + and gives the users of Twitter the opportunity to engage with a number of their communications and community managers, via verified accounts.
At this point, you might be thinking that Ford’s advertising and social media efforts aren’t unique. However, the organisation have created initiatives that stand out from the huge crowd. In 2009 for example, the company announced the Fiesta Movement, an online competition which asked why do you want a new car and resulted in a hundred vehicles, plus all the essential extras, being given away to new drivers. It was so successful, it is being reintroduced for the next year’s new car. This clearly demonstrates therefore why Scott Monty, Ford’s global Digital and Multimedia Communications Manager, is considered by Forbes Magazine to be one of the top ten influencers in social media.