Control: Ford gets human

Control: Ford gets human

Last summer, Ford of Canada reps travelled the country, talking to consumers about their perception of the struggling automotive brand. What they found was compelling.

‘They saw automotive companies as corporate monoliths,’ says VP general marketing Dean Stoneley. ‘They were looking for a friendlier, more human interaction.’

After six years under the tagline ‘Built for life in Canada,’ Ford needed a change. Stoneley and the marketing department drew on the consumer research to develop the new tagline: ‘Powered by you.’

‘Everything’s about the consumer, and we came up with this notion that ‘a car is just a car until it’s powered by you,” Stoneley explains.

To introduce this new direction, agency of record Y&R Toronto replaced the metal and rubber of a Ford car with the flesh and bones of dance troupe Pilobolus in a TV commercial. The spot drove users to Ford.ca to view a making-of video, which garnered 25,000 visits the day the spot was launched.

”Human Car’ is signalling a change, but where we can really behave differently is in the digital space,’ Stoneley explains. ‘Our goal is to be a leader in our category and even outside of our category. We want to create a

one-stop shop for consumers and be completely transparent.’

To accomplish this, Ford of Canada has launched two websites: the first, live since February, is Fordpoweredbyyou.ca, a forum for Ford fans – and everybody else – to sound off about the brand and its products. Created by Y&R and Black Angus Media of Toronto and completely unmoderated, the site’s real message to consumers is not so much the content as the space itself: Ford is listening to you.

‘If we’re saying now that Ford is powered by you, we have to actually give people a forum to express their thoughts and concerns,’ says Y&R creative director Chris McGroarty.

The second web effort is the relaunch of

Ford.ca, the first in eight years. The new site, which went live last month, embraces all aspects of Web 2.0 from comment boards to third-party reviews to interactive media content and podcasts. Potential buyers can get raw feedback from Ford owners in the Ford Answer Centre, which will also incorporate auto ratings from Yahoo Canada. The Build & Price feature lets users customize their Ford and then compare it to other models or competitors’ vehicles.

Stoneley, who worked with Kansas City-based agency VML on the site, says, ‘There’s no more of this sermon from the mount. We’re not going to preach to you about how we’re best in class. We’re creating a very different web experience than anybody else in the category.’
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