LOS ANGELES -- After an initial wave of viral marketing for its upcoming Fiesta small car, Ford plans a second round of "Fiesta Movement" social-media activities in early 2010.
The first round was about building awareness of the car, last sold in the United States in 1981. Ford gave Euro-spec Fiestas to 100 young drivers last spring and asked them to post their impressions on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social sites.
The second round of online buzz will show off the features of the Fiesta.
Twenty teams of drivers in major metro areas will use their Fiestas to complete "missions," the details of which were not divulged. But Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of global marketing, said the entrants will be chosen in markets where small cars do well.
"The first message was, 'There's this car called Fiesta, and it's cool,'" he said at this month's Los Angeles Auto Show. "Now we're going to show what Fiesta does differently from Yaris, Fit and Corolla."
In an interview, Farley admitted that he initially opposed social networking as a marketing tactic for the Fiesta. Farley, who launched the Scion youth brand as an executive at Toyota, worried that Ford would not execute the idea correctly.
"I was skeptical. I wanted to see all the details. I was worried that we would do what Pontiac did with Oprah, where it would turn into a giveaway and we wouldn't get anything out of it," said Farley, referring to Pontiac's giveaway of 276 G6 cars to the studio audience of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2004.
But Farley believes the Fiesta marketing campaign succeeded.
"The Fiesta Movement accounted for 5.9 million YouTube views, 3.3 million Twitter impressions and 1.4 million miles" driven, he said. "We had one car stolen, a couple wrecked and a few stains we can't identify."
Viral online marketing won't be the only way Ford takes the 2011 Fiesta to market. Farley said small cars sell equally to young people and budget-conscious retirees.
"We will have a traditional launch," he said. "We will use traditional media, but the messages will be different. We know it's OK to sell to old people, too."