DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will rely on experiential marketing to tout Lincoln vehicles, Ford’s marketing chief said. The strategy differs from the company’s increased spending on digital and social media to promote Ford brand vehicles.
“It’s pretty clear that Lincoln is going to require a pretty different strategy in marketing,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of global marketing, sales and service, at a media dinner this week. “Social media has allowed us to break a lot of myths. But luxury customers need to know more than something they read on Facebook.”
Farley will use some social media to do pre-launches for new-to-market Lincoln vehicles. But mostly Ford will take Lincoln vehicles to venues where luxury customers can touch and even drive them -- in other words, experience them.
‘Get people into’ vehicles
“Experiential marketing will be a key part of Lincoln’s future,” Farley said. “That means having serious conversations of where to take the products to get people into them.”
He listed auto shows, high-end food venues and travel destinations as some options.
Ford plans to give Lincoln seven new or significantly improved products by 2014. By that time, Lincoln is slated to get a new vehicle, likely a crossover, based on the global compact car platform that underpins the 2012 Focus due this quarter.
This week, Ford paid to fly 100 bloggers to the Detroit auto show. Farley spent an hour talking to them in person. He calls that “earned media.”
He noted that one major food manufacturing company doesn’t introduce any new product, packaging or marketing idea to the board of directors until first running it past a key blogger.
Social media for Ford brand
Farley has used social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube extensively to promote Ford brand vehicles. For example, in 2009, he launched the Fiesta Movement, giving 100 young people Ford Fiestas to drive and asking them to blog their impressions online and in videos.
He launched the 2011 redesigned Ford Explorer on Facebook rather than at an auto show.
Now, he is about to kick off the Focus Rally in which six couples will compete in a road rally driving the 2012 Ford Focus across America.
Ford spent 25 percent of its media budget on digital and social media in 2010, which Farley said was a “significant” boost over its 2009 spending in those areas. He hints that that allocation will rise again this year. He declined to say by how much.
“Customers are skeptical of big corporations and so we rely more on other media —social, digital and earned media,” Farley said. “We are aggressively moving money to those three areas.”