Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ford Fiesta Movement & 100 Agents of Change.

Have you heard about the Ford Fiesta Movement? It may sound like a grass roots Buy American campaign, but it’s really a pretty ingenious ploy by the Ford Motor Company to generate some buzz around the stateside launch of the European Ford Fiesta model.

It seems that Ford has signed up 100 “agents” who have been given a new Ford Fiesta to test-drive for 6 months. In Ford’s words, they’ll be “lifestreaming their experiences, and completing monthly missions to show you what the Fiesta is all about”, via personal blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

So who are the agents? As you might expect, Ford has smartly selected a group of new-media savvy individuals from Generation Y who had to post an application video to be chosen. A glance at these Millennial profiles seems to indicate most of the agents were selected for their online presence, as many of them have already established blog sites and a built-in audience.

Are these agents really just paid shills? It appears there’s no “pay-for-say” involved, although gas, maintenance and insurance are included with each vehicle. There’s also a little expense money thrown in to cover “mission” expenses. And Ford promises they’ll let their agents speak freely about their experiences.

So if all this is true, kudos to Ford. It’s obvious they have great confidence in the new Fiesta. And I can think of no better way to get the blogosphere buzzing about your hot new product than by seeding it with 100 hand-picked social media mavens.

Yet, as I applaud the effort, the proof of success will be in the excitement the Fiesta Movement is able to generate. There are lots of ideas, from reality TV shows to football game plans, that looked good on paper but fell apart in the execution.

Will the “missions” build the necessary excitement once the initial buzz wears off? (After all, this campaign is supposed to go for 6 months.) Will it be a non-step lovefest or will the agents be allowed to add a healthy dose of reality by complaining about a thing or two? Will the online buzz translate into offline sales?

Stay tuned. The missions just got underway this week. We’ll see if Ford is able to keep the Fiesta Movement humming in high gear.

This blog entry was previously published May 11, 2009 on Loyalty Truth.